Science News 22/08/2012

Organic coffee benefits

In the coffee production industry back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was serious health and ecological concerns about the use of pesticides. Testing revealed frequent detection of pesticides such as DDD, which is the toxic metabolite of DDT. Although the roasting process reduced levels of the chemicals it was still a concern. Fortunately, over the last ten years, governments have taken steps to prohibit use of banned pesticides.

The use of pesticides and chemicals in the coffee growing business have two sides, firstly is our health and whether it is harmful. Secondly, the environmental impact and social problems those chemicals may have on the coffee growing areas and the health of the workers who grow it.

Unlike vegetables or fruit, coffee is not eaten raw, the bean is the seed of the fruit and the flesh is thrown away. Then the seed is soaked, fermented and dried before roasting at extremely high temperatures over 400F. Finally, we when make a cup we soak it again in boiling water so it is unlikely that even the smallest amount of pesticide permitted by law will ever make it into our morning cuppa.

If you still have concerns there are now chemical free and organic alternatives. Certified organic coffee has increased its share of the global coffee market and in 2008, over eighty million pounds of organic coffee was imported into the United States and Canada, which is about three per cent of the four hundred million cups of drunk every day in the United States. The overall trend is up too with an amazing thirty five per cent annual growth rate, so much so that organic options are now easily available in supermarkets and in high street coffee shops. You can buy a wide range of organic coffees, including decaffeinated (, flavoured and instant varieties.

Buying traditional coffee, which was grown as coffee was grown before agricultural chemicals were invented is now easy. Many of the world’s finest coffee beans ( are still grown this way in countries such as Yemen, almost all Ethiopia, and most Sumatra Mandheling coffees are grown in such a state of innocence.

Organic coffee ( does cost a little more, some of this is due to the monitoring of the growing conditions and production, which increases the costs but ensures that it is free of any chemicals. The environment also benefits as no pesticides are entering the ground.

di S. C.