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  • July 30, 2021 4 min read

    What is Certified Organic Coffee: What You Need to Know

    Over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed in this country every day but do most people know what’s in their cup? If you are drinking conventional coffee, did you know that it is one of the most highly chemically treated crops in the world?

    Your coffee may have been grown using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or insecticides. That can have a big impact on the taste but the risk to your health is even greater. The safer alternative is to opt for organic coffee.

    But don’t be fooled because there is a difference between organic coffee and USDA Certified Organic Coffee. Read on to understand the difference and how it can impact you and the taste of your morning java.

    What is Certified Organic Coffee?

    What is Certified Organic Coffee? In the United States, the term “Certified Organic” is an official certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and means the product complies with defined national standards.  The company has gone through rigorous inspections to ensure they meet these defined guidelines.

    To receive this certification, everyone involved in the product lifecycle, from seed to final packaging, must meet a strict set of international standards. The growers must use natural processes to grow and harvest the coffee beans while adhering to defined standards and practices. They are not allowed to use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or genetic engineering; only natural substances may be utilized. The soil also must be chemical free for more than three years.

    The coffee producer must also comply with these same international standards. Everything they do as they process the beans from how they transport and store the beans to how they roast and package the final coffee.  All steps in the product lifecycle must follow strict guidelines. This includes assurance that non-organic products never commingle with organic products and equipment/facility cleaning processes only utilize organic cleansers and approved methods.

    All certified organizations are regularly inspected to ensure they are following all guidelines. If they do not meet or exceed the standards, then they will have their certification revoked.

    What Is the Difference Between Organic, Made with Organic and Certified Organic?

    Food labeling is important but can be very confusing and often misleading. Products use terms like ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ or ‘certified organic’ and this can cause confusion as to what the difference is between products. 

    Here is a little more to help you understand product labeling and help you determine if a product is organic.

    “Organic” Products

    The use of the term ‘organic’ on food labels is not strictly regulated. The USDA works to enforce regulations and standards with the term ‘organic’ on food labels but unless the product displays the official USDA Organic seal or clearly identifies a USDA-accredited certifying agent on the product label, there is no guarantee the product is actually organic.

    “Made with Organic” Products

    The “Made with Organic” descriptor is a USDA approved claim that can be used for products containing at least 70% certified organic ingredients. The producer must be certified by a USDA accredited agent. These products are not allowed to use the USDA Organic seal, but they can say “Made with Organic” on their front label along with the specified ingredients that are certified organic.

    This means that up to 30% of the ingredients are considered non-organic as they do not follow the USDA’s strict organic standards. However, these ingredients still must follow basic food standards and be non-genetically engineered.

    Certified Organic

    Products that use 95% certified organic ingredients and follow strict processing rules are the only products that can be labeled “Certified Organic” or “USDA Certified Organic.” As you can see, that means it is incredibly difficult to get this designation and everything must be inspected and certified to the highest degree.

    Only after all these inspections and approvals can these products use the USDA Organic seal.

    This is a difficult certification to receive. You must follow extremely strict rules and not all coffee companies are able to follow these guidelines. That is why it is so important to understand the difference between the organic and certified organic. The best tasting coffee comes from the highest quality beans and strictest processing methods.

    Other Reasons to Love Certified Organic Coffee

    There are other reasons to love certified organic coffee. It is grown using processes that are good for the environment and the soil. This means you can sip on your morning coffee and know you are helping support farmers and sustaining the ecosystem into the future.

    Most certified organic coffee beans are also shade grown. Shade growing is not a requirement for organic certification but with the absence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, organic growers rely on the shade to provide a proper habitat to grow coffee. This is important because coffee grown in the shade, grows slower. This means you will get coffee beans that offer a richer, fuller flavor. They also have less acidity which makes it less bitter. Shade grown coffee farms attract more than 150 different species of birds which again helps the environment to thrive and rebuild itself year after year.

    More Details About Certified Organic Coffee

    When you see coffee with the USDA Organic seal, you know you are getting a high-quality, organic coffee. The processes used follow the USDA’s guidelines to create a healthy cup for you and the world, every time you have a sip.

    Coast Roast only produces and sells USDA Certified Organic Coffee. Everyone involved in the process, from the farmers to the transportation companies and ultimately to us the producer. We all complete yearly certifications to ensure all Coast Roast coffees adhere to the strict guidelines and are USDA Certified Organic.  Now that you know what certified organic coffee is, you will have the peace of mind knowing you are getting the highest quality, and best tasting, certified organic coffee anywhere.