Organic coffee - A look behind the organic coffee scenes
Yes, we at unbound now also have an organic coffee line. In the following blog post, we'll tell you why organic coffee wasn't at the top of our to-do list for a long time and why it's worth taking a closer look behind the scenes of organic coffee.
Table of contents
Table of contents
What does organic mean in the coffee sector?
The criteria for organic coffee are the same as for other food products. They include the renunciation of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as well as genetic manipulation of the raw material. Coffee is grown on organic plantations as a so-called mixed crop, which means that other plants such as banana trees and cacao act as natural shade trees and pest controllers. Coffee trees growing in the shade have more coffee cherries on their branches, increasing yields. In addition, special emphasis is placed on recycling plant waste, such as coffee bean pods and coffee cherries. These are composted, for example, and reused as natural fertilizer.
The EU organic label: logically organic, but not fair trade at the same time
We work with the standard EU organic seal for our products. Although this guarantees the organic cultivation of our raw materials, it has no requirements for working conditions, harvesting and transport. Organic therefore does not automatically mean fair trade. This is one of the reasons why we have long avoided certified organic coffees. Since the beginning of our production, we have worked in close contact with local farmers. With our specially developed trace-back-to-farm seal, we can always track the working conditions on site and ensure and communicate fair conditions in cultivation and working conditions. For this reason, we have not seen the need to include organic coffees in our product range.
High costs for local coffee farmers - a hurdle that is difficult to overcome without help
Another hurdle with regard to the organic seal is the high cost for farmers in the growing regions. Although they receive a premium for every kilo of coffee they produce in organic quality, they have to pay the costs of the seal in advance. This is often not possible without an outside investor, as the sum exceeds the farmers' income many times over. Thus, it often happens that coffee farmers even produce their green coffee under organic conditions, but are never certified as organic due to the high start-up costs for the seal.
What are the conditions for organic coffee in cultivation and harvest?
Unfortunately, blends are often used to mix in poor quality coffees, as this is not as noticeable in the blend. You should also make sure that not too many different coffees are mixed together, otherwise the individual flavor of each variety is quickly lost and a uniform mash is created in which all roasts taste the same (bad) in the end.
In addition to cultivation without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic coffee is carefully picked by hand. Only the ripe cherries are harvested and processed. The opposite of picking would be stripping. In this process, which is often used for industrial coffee, the entire coffee bush is literally "plucked". In this process, coffee cherries are harvested in all stages, whether green, red or even already brown. This, of course, affects the quality and taste of the coffee.
Enjoy coffee consciously
These and other processes are often sold as bio-specific. However, this is not entirely true. High-quality specialty coffees, such as our Peachy Keen or Plum Crazy, also go through the same elaborate harvesting process and thus offer the highest quality even without the organic seal.
Enjoying coffee consciously doesn't mean that it has to be organic on your packaging. You can also achieve this if you consciously buy from small farms and in the direct trade process. These coffees are often far above the standards of organic coffee and are also traded sustainably and fairly.
Just so you don't misunderstand us, we absolutely stand behind our organic coffees. But truly sustainably produced and processed coffee is characterized by more than just a seal.
Why now organic at unbound after all?
However, the demand for certified organic coffee has become louder and louder in recent years. We also came into contact more and more often at the catering level with customers who run organic operations and therefore explicitly rely on the seal. Our search for high-quality organic coffee from exceptional extraction areas thus took its course. In the end, it took us about three full years to find organic coffees of our desired quality standard that harmonize perfectly in terms of taste, both as singles and in our organic blend.