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Organic CoffeeJust-picked coffee beans. All coffee plantation photos by Ana Labate | SXC.

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November 2006
Updated November 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Coffee

The Best Organic & Fair Trade Coffee

What You Drink Can Change The World

CAPSULE REPORT: Coffee is a heavily sprayed crop, and for many people who want to avoid pesticides, that means organic coffee. But there are many other reasons to drink organic: environmental concerns and concerns for the welfare of the coffee workers are two. Ultimately, however, people buy coffee because it tastes good. We tasted a bunch of organic coffees, and our product reviews are below. We liked quite a few organic coffees, many of which have a way to go to reach mainstream standards. Our favorites include Arbuckle’s, Dean’s Beans, Don Francisco’s, Jim’s and Green Mountain. Dean’s Beans was the best value at $7 a pound (it’s kosher-certified, too). Jim’s Organic Coffee won for the highest percentage of “editors’ favorite picks” (two of three entries).

This is Page 1 of a 5-page article. Click the black links below to view the other pages.

 

Overview

While this is an article about organic coffee, not about social reform, it’s hard to write about one without the other. When you talk about organic milk, it means that the cows enjoy better living conditions. When you talk about organic coffee, it means that entire villages of people are able to rise from acute poverty to a living wage...that they have health care and education for their children. So if you just want to read the coffee reviews, skip to the organic coffee product reviews. If you want an earful about the social movement behind organic coffee, start here.

For most coffee drinkers, having a morning cup of java every day is so routine that it’s easy to forget the beans you choose affect the lives of coffee growers and workers all across the developing world. According to industry statistics, for every pound of coffee sold in the United States, which is typically priced for retail between five and nine dollars, the average coffee farmer receives less than thirty-five cents and pickers receive less than fourteen cents.

The price disparity for coffee sold ready-to-drink at restaurants and coffee shops is even greater. A crop of beans sold in the United States that will be sold by the brewed cup is estimated to be worth about $750,000. From that small fortune, the small farmers and the field pickers who work for large concerns don’t earn enough to scrape by; the majority live in a cycle of poverty that most people enjoying a $4 latte will never know about.

Cup Of CoffeeSome consumers who are aware of this make a socially-conscious choice when buying coffee, but to others, it’s all about the taste. At the end of the day, taste will always be the most important factor in what coffee people drink. Consumers who care about health and the environment choose organic coffee, which is grown pesticide-free and with concern for the land and the environment. People who are concerned for the benefit of the workers and the environment choose Fair Trade coffee. Most “aware” people seek products that are both organic- and Fair Trade-certified. Let’s start with an overview of these classifications.
Photo courtesy of Revival.

 

Go To Page 2: Fair Trade-Certified

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