Did you know that when it comes to pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, coffee is the third most sprayed agricultural crop in the world behind cotton and tobacco? It seems thousands of little creatures, plants and fungi want their coffee, too.
So, most of the major coffee producers coat their crops with a witches’ brew of toxic chemicals to fight these intruders and increase crop yields. The question is not whether the chemicals they use make their way into your morning cup. At peak temperatures above 450 degrees the roasting process will most likely burn off any residual chemicals or render then inert. But the real question is what do these chemicals do to the environment and communities where they are sprayed? There, the data is clear. The effects on groundwater, nearby crops, and people’s health is well-documented.
Yet, this is just one reason to choose and promote organic coffee. Without the advantage of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides, coffee farmers have to take better care of their trees to experience the same quality and crop yields per tree as their toxic competitors. Most use the biodiversity of other indigenous trees to shade their coffee trees and provide added nutrients to the soil. Organic farmers have to choose viable soil and water sources in order to avoid adding synthetic nutrients later. They have to grow their coffee at higher altitudes, which dissuades many insects and parasitic plants, resulting in a slower-developing, more complex-flavored coffee bean.
Organic farmers have to accept a trade off of lower overall yield in exchange for a more bio-diverse habitat. In return, coffee roasters and their customers pay them a premium to continue the practice. At Groundwork, we think it’s money well spent.