Organic Coffee

What are the Qualifiers for Organic Coffee?

When it comes to the modern food industry, it seems the term “organic” is popping up everywhere. Whether you wish to buy popcorn or vegetables, organic options are ever-present. While there is a basic-level of understanding among most consumers, many are confused regarding what this term actually means? Moreover, how does organic growing methods affect the coffee industry? Is there really a difference between organic coffee and non-organic brands?

In layman’s terms, organic coffee simply refers to the cultivation and harvesting methods used to produce coffee beans. When this term is used, it’s basically stating that the growing methods used did not harm the environment and through the implementation of fertilizers, chemicals or pesticides. Ultimately, what attracts consumers to organic coffee is the lack of potentially harmful compounds found in the majority of commercially produced food items.

Organic vs Certified Organic Coffee

In order for coffee to be labeled organic, it must pass unique certification requirements. However, this is where things become sticky. There are literally hundreds of coffee brands that claim to be organic, but the reality is far from the truth. In fact, retailers may tout their products as being “organic,” when in fact they still use chemicals and other forms of pesticides throughout the cultivation and harvesting process.

There is a massive amount of confusion regarding organic and certified organic. If a coffee label simply says “organic” it’s quite likely this coffee is not in fact organic. Rather, these manufacturer’s choose to use this term as a means of attracting “health conscious” consumers who are willing to pay a higher price for naturally grown and cultivated products. This deceptive practice is under legal scrutiny, but because the label did not state “certified organic” there is very little recourse. Therefore, it’s imperative that you don’t simply choose a coffee labeled organic, but rather “certified organic.”

Organic Coffee Certification Process

There are many third-party organizations that oversee the certification process of labeling a coffee product organic. Generally, coffee plantations can only receive this certification if their growing methods are currently void of chemicals and pesticides. If the farmer used chemicals in the past, the farm must sustain from chemical fertilizers and pesticides for at least three years before it can be considered for organic certification. Moreover, if the farm plans on growing organic and non-organic coffee, there must be a significant amount of space between each crop to prevent chemical contamination among the organic coffee bushes. Along with sustaining from chemicals, coffee farmers must utilize growing techniques that are sustainable. One of the most common grow techniques that’s required for organic certification is to rotate crop location. By rotating annual crops, it prevents the soil from becoming over-used and depleting its nutrients.

If you are interested in purchasing fair trade organic coffee, you can buy Driven Coffee online. This is just one example of many different coffee companies that carry certified organic fair trade coffees.

coffee tasting techniques

Effective Coffee Tasting Techniques

Are you looking for a way to enjoy your cup of coffee beyond simply adding a different flavored creamer? Throughout the past several years, the coffee industry has experienced an uptick in the number of specialty blends and beans. Referred to as third wave coffee, the beans are now being produced to highlight the unique flavors and textures only found in specific beans. If you wish to enrich your appreciation for this commonly consumed beverage, you must focus on enhancing how you taste the coffee. While this can be a lifelong process, there are several effective coffee tasting techniques one can adopt to enhance how your tongue experiences the complexities found in the best coffee beans online.

Coffee Tasting Technique 1: Perfect Amount of Beans

In order to thoroughly enjoy a cup of coffee, and to ensure you extract the maximum amount of flavor, it’s imperative that you brew the perfect amount of beans. As a general rule, for every 6.5 ounces of boiled water, add 0.46 ounces of freshly ground coffee. This measurement is accepted by professional-level coffee tasting companies – yes, there are positions where their entire job is to taste and evaluate the flavor of coffee. Talk about a stimulating career choice.

Coffee Tasting Technique 2:Water and Grinding

In order to ensure there’s no cross-contamination due to the water, it’s imperative you use filtered water. Never use tap water when brewing coffee to evaluate its taste. Compounds found in tap water are known to dramatically alter the natural flavor profile of coffee grounds. Now, comes grinding your coffee. Never purchase pre-ground coffee, as it immediately begins to lose its natural flavor as soon as it’s ground. Therefore, only grind what you will be instantly brewing. Make sure to wash the grinder blades between coffee types to prevent flavor exchanges. After grinding, take a moment to smell the coffee. It’s important to learn how specific coffee beans smell before they’re introduced to water. This will help in future coffee selection endeavors.

Coffee Tasting Technique 3: Boil the Water

Now, it’s time to boil the water. Boil enough water only for the amount of coffee you wish to brew. Make sure the water comes to a rolling boil before you remove from heat. Here’s the trick of the trade: allow the water to rest for 25 to 30-seconds before you pour over the ground coffee beans. This allows the water to cool just enough for maximum flavor extraction.

Coffee Tasting Technique 4: Preparing the Coffee

Instead of using a standard coffee maker, to truly appreciate the flavor of the coffee, slowly pour the hot water over the coffee grounds, which are already in the cup. Do not pour too fast. Be gentle to prevent damaging the coffee. Once the coffee cup is filled with water, allow the coffee to brew for four minutes.

Coffee Tasting Technique 5: Enjoy!

Now that the coffee has had four minutes to brew, the surface of the water will feature a nice crust of grounds. Take a small spoon and push through this crust. Take a moment to inhale the aroma – it will be strong and beautiful. Carefully remove the grounds from the water surface, and slowly sip the coffee. Like wine, allow the coffee to rest in your mouth for several seconds before swallowing. Push your tongue around the coffee to appreciate the fine flavor details.

fair trade coffee

Criteria for Organic Fair Trade Coffee Labeling

Did you know that coffee is the second most valuable commodity within the entire world. In fact, the only product traded more frequently than coffee is petroleum. With over 25 million coffee farmers and workers sprinkled throughout the world, this is among the most lucrative industries throughout the world. However, with profitability comes greed, and with greed comes corrupt business practices. In an attempt to thwart coffee producers who utilize cheap labor and support farming practices, Organic Fair Trade labeling was established. According to Global Exchange, an international human rights organization, coffee with Fair Trade labeling was cultivated, harvested and imported based upon a strict set of guidelines and standards.

Fair Trade Coffee Growing Conditions

In order for a coffee to be declared Fair Trade, the beans must be cultivated through a specific process. In fact, nearly 85% of coffee that’s considered Fair Trade Certified is either certified organic or passively organic. Perhaps one of the largest issues within the coffee farming industry is the use of pesticides and other harmful growing techniques, which leave the soil ruined for future generations. One of the most important criteria for Fair Trade Certification is how the coffee beans are grown.

Typically, smaller farming organizations do not have the money to utilize environmentally-safe techniques. Because of this, Fair Trade Certifications ensure the farmers are paid a wage that allows farmers to retain the best ecological practices for sustainable farming. By purchasing Fair Trade Certified coffee beans, you’re purchasing coffee that was cultivated using safe, chemical-free conditions, while simultaneously ensuring the farmer’s received ample compensation for their work. In fact, Fair Trade certification costs are not paid by the actual growers, but by the consuming countries or the roasting facilities. This ensures farmer’s are not having to spend their hard-earned money to prove their sustainable farming techniques.

The Difference Between Organic and Fair Trade Coffee Certifications

Perhaps one of the most commonly confused topics within the coffee industry is the difference between organic and Fair Trade Certified coffee. In fact, many consumers believe these terms are interchangeable. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even coffee beans that are marked as organic may not have been cultivated or imported according to the strict guidelines established by the Fair Trade Network. The harsh reality is most organic coffee is not Fair Trade, which means the working conditions of the farmers, and their compensation, does not match the standards set forth by this organization. Fair Trade coffee beans are best online, since they can be roasted upon order and delivered to your door.

Light or Dark Roast – What’s the Difference?

There is a common debate among many coffee lover circles: what’s the difference between light and dark roast? Moreover, is one roasting method better than the other? It may seem that answering these questions is impossible as what one person finds enjoyable another may find repulsive. This being noted, in order to gain a true understanding of your favorite cup of coffee, it’s imperative to understand the differences between these two roast levels. When you truly understand the differences between light and dark roast coffee, you’re able to make a more educated decision when it comes to choosing the best cup of coffee for your particular taste requirements.

Light or Dark Roast Caffeine Content

Perhaps one of the biggest areas of confusion regarding light and dark roast coffee is its included caffeine content. There are several misconceptions when it comes to this topic. Many coffee drinkers believe that the darker the roast, the greater the caffeine concentration. This notion was popularized several decades ago when dark, oil-rich coffee was considered “gourmet,” which attracted the mouths of the more “cultured” coffee drinkers.

While dark coffee is known for a far more intense flavor, this intensity does not necessarily mean a greater caffeine content. The confusion regarding caffeine content became even more muddled with the latest release of specialty, or third wave, coffee. Lovers of third wave coffee appreciate the light roast these beans undergo, and while a light roast features a far different flavor than darker roast varieties, the truth of the matter is its caffeine content is not protected due to its lighter color.

Here’s the truth: caffeine content is not related to its roast, but rather the actual bean according to this article.  In fact, if you were to lightly roast one bean and dark roast an identical bean, the caffeine content would be uniform. The difference in caffeine content is not based upon the roast, but rather the volume of coffee that’s used during the brewing process. Therefore, if you want a more caffeine-rich cup of coffee, add two scoops instead of one.

Light or Dark Roast Flavor Boldness

Perhaps one of the most common arguments within coffee groups is a light roast is far more mild than a dark roast. While this is a very convincing argument, it’s nothing more than just that – an argument. When comparing the boldness of coffee, the actual flavor is based upon the bean and not necessarily the roast. In fact, the strength of a coffee should not be your first concern. Rather, the qualities of a great cup of coffee are within its flavor complexity and character.

However, there is a difference in flavor profiles based upon the roast. For example, lightly roasted coffee tends to have a deeper flavor filled with high floral scenes and an intense sweetness. As a general rule, the lighter the coffee roast level, the more present the beans’ natural, or “original,” flavor will be. As coffee beans are allowed to darken through a longer roasting process, the unique flavors characterized within a particular bean become lost. Eventually, two completely different beans will ultimately taste the same if roasted long enough. Therefore, if you’re more interested in enjoying the unique flavor of a bean, go for a lighter roast.