Thursday, September 29 is National/International Coffee Day (you can get lots of freebies at different retailers later this week), and so to celebrate we thought we’d help you understand how organic farmers grow and harvest their coffee beans.
So here we go!
Most Coffee is Grown in South America…
…But that doesn’t mean it isn’t grown here in the U.S. In fact, if you desire, you could plant some coffee trees here in the U.S. and grow your own organic beans. But for this post we’re going to talk about organic coffee farming in general.
Organic coffee growers use no synthetic chemicals or fertilizers in the growth or production of their beans. What this means to you – and everyone – is that you enjoy cleaner water, cleaner land (it’s not stripped of its nutrients), and better tasting beans. (Organic coffee beans also have more healthful antioxidants.)
Organic growers use natural fertilizers such as chicken manure, compost and even coffee pulp, therefore not polluting our water system – or our soil – with harmful synthetic chemicals.
Coffee trees thrive in shady spots, but conventional coffee south of the equator tends to be grown in forests that are plowed of trees, thus subjecting the coffee trees to the blazing sun. However, conventional farming has created a hybrid coffee bean, one that does well in full sun. Yet the forested ecosystem of natural pest deterrents such as lizards and birds no longer have a place to live, so the insects overrun the coffee plantation, leaving farmers “no choice” but to use a lot of chemical insecticides.
What’s more, when the rain comes, there’s no forest cover to protect the coffee beans. Soil also washes away and natural soil nutrients with it.
Organic coffee, on the other hand is grown in leafy forests that provide safe homes for wild animals and plants. These types of coffee farms also can handle unusual weather patterns better.
Harvesting Organic Coffee Beans
Conventional coffee farmers tend to use massive harvesting equipment to take the beans from the trees, potentially hurting the beans as they are removed. Organic coffee farmers, on the other hand, hand pick each bean from the tree. (Each bean actually is “encased” in a cherry; it’s the cherry that’s picked from the tree and the redder the cherry, the riper the bean inside). The farmers then squeeze each bean from its cherry and then soak the beans in order to remove any excess cherry pulp.
The process is time consuming and labor intensive and that fact is one reason why organic coffee is more expensive than conventionally grown coffee.
But the taste and smell of organic coffee is well worth it!