by Feb 19, 2016on
Organic coffee is growing increasingly popular in the US and all over the world, because it tastes better and it’s better for you, but what about the effects that organic farming is having on the coffee industry itself?
Let’s take a look at how the organic movement has impacted the coffee industry, and is actually working to grow fair trade practices and improve working conditions for coffee growers all over the world.
Organic Coffee Requires Oversight
In order to show that their coffee is actually organic, the exploding number of small coffee roasters need to ensure that the coffee they’re buying was produced in a pesticide-free environment, and that almost always means making direct contact with coffee growers.
While that doesn’t sound that revolutionary on paper, this has had a massive effect on the coffee industry as a whole. Big coffee importers can’t trace each coffee bean to it’s exact origin beyond perhaps it’s general region, and they certainly can’t afford to carefully monitor the farming practices of each small grower
It Disengages Coffee From Mass Exporters
Coffee is one of the most important commodities on the international market, which makes it highly competitive, and historically exploitative. In past centuries coffee was grown by indentured servants and slaves, and modern working conditions haven’t been significantly better until recently.
With demand for their products waning and organic quality control out of their reach if they want to keep prices down, mass coffee export/import businesses are losing their ability to control the coffee supply. The most obvious difference is that growers (with exception to kona, blue mountain, and a few other very famous coffees) are no longer forced to sell their product to mass exporters for a tiny fraction of its value (usually 30 to 50 cents per pound), because they’re increasingly getting access to small roasters who are prepared to pay significantly more for traceable high-quality coffee.
It Improves Worker Health
Using harmful chemicals and pesticides in farming has adverse effects on the health of the people who have to interact with these products every day. While most of these chemicals never reach the end consumer since they degrade or are destroyed during processing and roasting, their effects on farmers was rarely considered, and even more rarely acknowledged.
Organic farming practices allow coffee farmers to work in a safer, chemical-free environment, while also improving their incomes and improving their global business connections.