Is Organic Coffee Better for Health? Yes and No.January 09, 2020
When given the choice between organic coffee and conventional, there’s no question that organic coffee is the healthier option. However, while organic coffee is grown without harmful pesticides, it falls short when it comes to standards that are essential for a truly healthy cup of joe. The healthiest coffee goes beyond organic, and additionally qualifies as specialty-grade coffee, is rigorously tested for mold and mycotoxins, and is roasted in a smokeless machine to reduce dangerous byproducts like acrylamide.
In this article you will learn:
- Is Organic Coffee Better for Health?
- 3 Things that Make Organic Coffee Healthy
- 4 Reasons Organic Coffee Isn’t the Healthiest Coffee
- What is the Healthiest Coffee?
Is Organic Coffee Better for Health?
Organic coffee is certainly healthier than its conventional counterparts due to the fact that it’s grown without health-harming pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, but it’s not perfect.
For perspective, conventionally grown coffee is one of the most chemically-treated beverages on the market. On top of being grown with large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can harm your health, these same chemicals often hurt both the coffee farmers and ecosystems that come in contact with them as well.
However, even organic coffee can fall short. For instance, organic certification doesn’t address essential factors like the quality grade of the coffee beans or testing for mold and mycotoxins. The organic label also doesn’t ensure that coffee manufacturers have roasted their beans with the safest methods to avoid unsafe byproducts and preserve coffee’s healthy antioxidants.
3 Things that Make Organic Coffee Healthy
While organic coffee doesn’t check all the boxes for the healthiest cup of joe, it certainly has its benefits for your health, the environment, and the farmers who grow it.
1. It’s Grown without Pesticides, Herbicides, or Fungicides
97% of the world’s coffee beans are non-organic and treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other chemicals. And unfortunately, these chemicals make it all the way into your morning brew.
In developing countries like Colombia, Indonesia, and Brazil, where the majority of coffee is grown, there are few to no regulations on the chemicals and pesticides used, which means farmers can spray their crops with just about anything. In fact, some of the chemicals these farmers use are chemicals that have already been banned in America, Europe, and Japan due to their harmful effects on health.
Because organic coffee is grown without these toxic substances, it’s the simplest solution to ensuring a cup of coffee without pesticide residues, which is the healthier choice!
2. Better Soil & Water Quality
Not only is organic farming result in coffee that's safer for human consumption, but it’s also significantly more beneficial for the environment in which the coffee is grown.
Without toxic chemicals, farmers must use more sustainable practices of growing coffee, and these practices have been proven to significantly increase nutrients in the soil.
One such eco-friendly coffee farming method is the use of “shade trees” to naturally protect coffee plants from overexposure to sunlight. Shade trees keep the coffee beans in prime condition and their foliage supplies extra nutrients to the soil, resulting in higher quality coffee beans.
Shade trees eliminate the need for chemical pesticides, preserving the local ecosystem by creating cleaner soil and water, which in turn helps to fight deforestation and reduce carbon dioxide levels!
3. Safer for Coffee Growers
Not only is organic coffee healthier for personal consumption and more sustainable for the environment, but it’s even safer for coffee growers!
One survey of 81 coffee farmers in Eastern Jamaica found that most of them suffered from at least one negative health side effect linked to pesticide handling.
But when coffee is grown organically, hard-working coffee growers are no longer in contact with dangerous chemicals, creating a healthier, happier work environment.
4 Reasons Organic Coffee Isn’t the Healthiest Coffee
1. It Doesn’t Address Bean Quality
Just because a coffee is certified organic doesn’t mean the coffee beans are high-quality.
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has three quality-based categories of coffee: specialty grade, premium grade, and below-specialty grade.
Specialty-grade is the highest quality of coffee.
For a coffee to be assigned a grade, expert coffee testers look for major defects in the coffee like unripened beans, coffee pods, sour beans, as well as minor defects like husks present, broken or chipped beans, minor insect damage, and small sticks and stones.
To qualify as a specialty grade coffee, the beans must be mostly uniform in size, have a distinctive body, taste, aroma, and healthy moisture content (between 9-13%).
Specialty-grade coffees also tend to have more complex aromas. Our Clean Coffee, for example, offers fresh hints of citrus and lightly sweet notes of caramel.
2. Organic Coffee Can Contain Mold and Mycotoxins
Just because a coffee is organic, that doesn't mean it’s free of harmful mold and mycotoxins. Often, due to poor processing and storage, coffee beans can grow mycotoxin-producing mold which can cause a wide variety of health issues.
Exposure to mold and mycotoxins can cause fatigue, sinus infection, mitochondrial function, memory problems, brain fog, night sweats, hair loss, DNA damage, liver disease, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
So be sure to read the packaging and find evidence of third-party testing to make sure your coffee is mold and mycotoxin free!
3. Organic Coffee Can Be Improperly Roasted
While buying organic coffee may ensure that it’s free of pesticide residues, it doesn’t mean that it was properly roasted.
Many popular coffee brands today roast their beans at overly high temperatures which comes with consequences. This can result in dangerous roasting byproducts like HCAs and acrylamide that can make their way into your bloodstream, causing damage to the nervous system and increasing the risk of cancer.
Alternatively, the healthiest coffee brands roast their beans in small batches inside a smokeless machine. This not only ensures that each bean is roasted more evenly with fewer burnt edges, but it also eliminates the most harmful compounds and increases healthy antioxidants like chlorogenic acid.
4. There’s No Requirement that Organic Coffee is Lab Tested
While it’s long been argued that the pesticide residues on coffee beans are removed during the roasting process, new studies suggest that up to 10% of these chemicals can soak inside the coffee bean. This means that pesticides are likely to end up in your cup of coffee.
As it turns out, exposure to pesticides can lead to negative health consequences like:
- Respiratory diseases
- Endocrine disruption (hormonal imbalances)
- Low IQ and ADHD in children
- Weakened immune system
- Cancer (most commonly in the breast, prostate, and ovaries)
The safest coffee is one that’s been held accountable by a third party organization with each batch rigorously tested for different types of pesticide residue and other common health-harming compounds like ochratoxin A, aflatoxin, acrylamide, fungus, and yeast. It's only with test results like these that you can be 100% confident that the coffee you're getting is as healthy as possible!
What is the Healthiest Coffee?
The healthiest choice of coffee is one that goes beyond organic. In addition to organic certification, you should look for coffee that is specialty grade, mold and mycotoxin-free, properly roasted in a smokeless machine, and third-party lab tested to ensure it's free of harmful toxins.
Of course, these are the standards we put in place for our Natural Force Clean Coffee.
We lab test each batch of Clean Coffee for common coffee health offenders including the mycotoxins Ochratoxin A, Aflatoxin, Acrylamide, mold, fungus, yeast, and 165 different types of pesticides, so you know exactly what is - and isn't - in your cup and in your body.
And, unlike most brands, we actually share our third-party lab results (you can view them right here.)
Clean Coffee also tastes amazing, which is why we think it is the healthiest and tastiest coffee you will ever find!
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