Very little organic coffee is produced as 97% of the farmers use non-organic methods to improve their production and quality. Thus every cup of coffee you take may contain a lot of chemical residuals.
Do you love an aromatic hot cup of coffee in the morning?
Like many coffee lovers, I don’t feel fully awaken without a cup of coffee in the morning. I am not alone, as 64% of American adults start their day with coffee. Most of them drink 3.1 cups on average every day. It is not surprising that Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee every day and annually spend about $5.2 billion. (1) The worldwide consumption is estimated at 2.25 billion cups of coffee daily.
It is not only the aroma and taste that attracts people like you and me. There is a lot of evidence to prove that coffee contains antioxidant properties and a rich source of chlorogenic acid (Yang et al. 2011). Some studies have confirmed this acid beneficial for diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases related to oxidative stress (Garambone & Rosa 2007).
Most of the consumers don’t know that 97% of coffee, including that of Star bucks, is non-organic. (2) One reason is limited research on coffee beans as they are very complicated for analysis. In other words, there is every chance that you not only start your day with a cup of harmful chemicals but also continue to consume the same the whole day.
In a study, fifteen real coffee samples from different regions of Brazil were collected and analyzed. Initially, the samples were screened for the 123 substances, and in case of positive peaks, quantification was conducted. Seven of these samples were contaminated with pesticides. Carbendazim, thiamethoxam, and triadimenol were found in these samples.
The level of chemical residuals in coffee mainly depends upon the environment, farming, crop treatment, storage, and distribution networks. When we see that a majority of coffee production comes from developing countries, the possibility of pesticide and other residuals in coffee increases. It is fearsome when we find every acre of coffee being treated with 250 pounds or more of agriculture chemicals. (3)
When we talk about the benefits of organic coffee, skeptics argue that coffee beans are not directly sold for human consumption. The thick skin of the coffee fruit does not allow too many agrochemicals to intrude into the coffee grains. Furthermore, when coffee is roasted at 400 Fahrenheit, most of the chemical residuals are neutralized.
A study was conducted in French supermarkets to understand whether roasted coffee contains Ochratoxin A or not.
“Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a secondary metabolite produced either by Penicillia in cereal or Aspergillii in wine and coffee. OTA is a nephrotoxic and carcinogenic compound found in several food products such as cereals, nuts, beer, and wine. Similar to other crops, coffee fruits and beans can be contaminated by toxigenic fungi, which, besides altering the quality of coffee, may present a serious risk of OTA contamination, compromising the safety of the product. OTA has also been detected in green and roasted coffee beans.” (4)
The research team collected 30 samples of different roasted coffees from the French supermarkets. The report proved that almost all roasted coffees contain OTA content to the level, which can cause harm to human health.
Organic coffee is not only better for human health but also for the environment. Coffee crops are generally grown in heavy rainwater areas. It is not surprising that pesticides in coffee crops often contaminate surface water either due to rains or aerial spray, erosion of soil and also from the careless disposal of pesticides and chemical containers. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, 2012) proves that surface water has been polluted in many areas where pesticides are frequently used on coffee crops. (5)
The experience of organic agriculture in Mexico, like in other countries, dissipates the myth that organic production necessarily has lower yields since both cocoa and coffee offer examples of higher yields than conventional production (Schwentesius R. et al., 2014). In 2008, 67 organic crops were identified (Ibid). Experts in this area, however, claim that 100 organic crops are currently being produced in Mexico (Gómez, 2016). Organic production in Mexico includes not only organic crops but also new farming and beekeeping. (6)
First off, conventional coffee is known to be among one of the most chemically treated foods in the world. And while that might not affect you as a consumer thanks to coffee’s protective fruit and the roasting process, it certainly does have an impact on farmers and the environment.
Farmers may be exposed to a high level of chemicals while treating or handling crops if they are not provided with proper equipment to protect themselves. Additionally, runoff may affect surround communities, as well. Thus, there is a demand for finding ways to ensure that coffee is being produced in a way that people feel they can support.
One such push has come in the form of the rapidly growing organic coffee market. And that’s what we’re talking about today. We have everything from what “organic” really means to how to produce it. (7)
When a coffee pack labels contain a certification of ‘organic coffee’ it shows that at least 95% of the beans have been grown under conditions which can be termed as organic. They include avoiding synthetic substances like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. But some other steps also include:
• Managing land to restore, maintain, and enhance local biodiversity
• Working within the local environment without disrupting the balance of natural ecological systems
• Using methods to minimize pollution in the air, water, and soil
• Using traditional farming methods (e.g., crop rotations) to manage weeds, pests, and soil health
• Roasting organic coffee separately from the roasters being used for convention coffee
Reference: Cláudia M. Dias, Fabiano A. Oliveira, Fernando D. Madureira, Gilsara Silva, Wesley R. Souza & Zenilda L. Cardeal (2013) Multi-residue method for the analysis of pesticides in Arabica coffee using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry, Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 30:7, 1308-1315, DOI: 10.1080/19440049.2013.801088
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