What is the deal with this organic thing? It kind of feels like companies would try to sell us organic socks if they thought we’d buy it for longer than 30 seconds. When it’s a seal slapped on food that we’re putting in our bodies, though, the need for concrete answers solidifies.
Organic food has different standards worldwide. The European Commission (EC) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversee varying standards, but the organic food has the same general goals no matter where you go. Cycling resources and promoting ecological balances are top two concerns, as well as conserving biodiversity.
When it comes to choosing coffee, opting for an organic brand feels like a good choice — not only are you free of any synthetic pesticides, but you can feel pretty good about your choice knowing that the workers who picked your beloved coffee fruit aren’t exposed to the toxins, either.
It’s a win-win. That in mind, we’ll chat about the best organic coffee brands in 2018 and see just how much pleasure we can derive from that morning cup of joe. But, first, let’s understand what we’re talking about.
To earn that coveted organic seal, dispensers must pass a number of requirements, including inspections, to gain their certifications. It may surprise you how far out these requirements go.
For that little USDA organic label, the plots where the coffee is grown must be synthetic-pesticide free for no less than three years. Natural pesticides can still be used on the crops, however.
Organic beans must also be roasted on entirely separate roasters—much like how entire factories must be nut-free to label their product as safe for those with allergies. There’s also a thorough cleaning process involved to retain the organic status.
To be honest, the connection between “organic” and “healthier” is tenuous. There are varying opinions (just like the regulations) about whether there are health or taste benefits, mostly because science can’t give a definitive yay or nay on the matter, so I’m not going to force feed you any of that stuff.
What I will say about growing organically is the preservation of natural resources, in this case soil, and retaining biodiversity, both of which are important for the planet. This bit is the real, bonafide bonus of opting for organic coffee.
All that said, let’s take a closer look at the options, in no particular order, mostly because… well. Laziness? But ranking systems are pretty arbitrary, so enjoy the chaos!
Light & Dark
Medium & Dark
Keeping in mind the viking roots in this coffee, you may want to clink your glass and let loose a hearty skål every morning before your first blissful sip of this medium roast coffee. The passionate cry will wake up all of your taste buds in preparation for the nutty, chocolatey notes of this brew.
Valhalla Java prides itself on providing a strong cup of coffee that’s both organic and fair trade. Plus, if you don’t like it, Death Wish Coffee Company does the total opposite of what their name implies. Rather than having employees sitting around sending endless vibes of ill-fortune and destruction your way, they give you back your money — no harm, no foul.
Now that’s all something worth crying good health to.
Tiny Footprint was founded in 2010. It’s the first Carbon Negative coffee company and they have some pretty sweet math to show they don’t make any unsavory impact on the Earth. One pound of coffee equals a nice donation from Tiny Footprint to support the Mindo Cloudforest region in Ecuador. They’re contribution to preventing deforestation outweighs their carbon footprint from coffee production.
Hence, Tiny Footprint.
This aptly-named company doesn’t just have a unique platform—they use unique equipment, as well. They roast in a vintage 90 kilo German-built Probat drum roaster retrofitted with modern fuel-efficient ribbon burners. If you have no idea what that is/looks like, join the club. It’s just a cool set of words when you string them all together, and they sound authoritative enough that I believe them.
The coffee is fruity, florally, and cocoa-ey, and it’s great for making cold brew coffee (if the name didn’t already give it away).
This batch starts off as enticing as they come—dark roast and 100% arabica whole bean coffee. It’s the perfect trifecta for making a perfect cup of joe, whatever type it might be. The brown sugary flavor is undoubtedly energizing first thing in the morning, while the organic label reminds you of the ethics behind the brand.
Sustainably grown, hand crafted, and small batch roasted, you can feel the personalization in every single cup you drink. They’re anti-overroasting and happy to take any compliments on the smoothness.
Have a sweet tooth? This organic breakfast blend may help you sate it without giving yourself a sugar high. It tastes a bit like roasted nut, a bit like a chocolate brownie, and a bit like caramel, which basically just sounds like a delicious dessert to me.
On top of being organic, this bag is Fair Trade and Kosher, as determined by the Orthodox Union. It’s a combination of medium and french roast, which sounds heavenly, but it’s also pre-ground, which you know damn well that I’m not a fan of. Read every other article I’ve written if you want to know why.
It’s whole bean, so that’s the first obstacle easily hurtled on this one. It’s 100% Arabica and touted as low acid, which is sweet relief for anyone who’s stomach can get a bit touchy. If you just thought, “wow, you’ve really pegged me there,” you should check out this article on low-acid coffee options, many of which are organic.
To reduce their footprint, Subtle Earth does a number of things, like growing at a high altitude to reduce the need for any pesticides. Higher altitude makes for better coffee anyway, so it’s definitely a win-win, without question. They’re big recyclers too — all of the fruit that’s separated from the precious coffee bean, the cherry, is composted into a fertilizer.
They’re dedicated to freshness, too. They roast to order, rather than on a schedule, to make sure that your beans go from roasters to your mug in as little time as possible. To be honest, this is a company after my heart, especially with notes of honey, cocoa, and caramel lacing their flavor profile.
I’m a bit of a sucker for simple, clever logos, and Jo really takes the cake. The aesthetic just works for me, and it’s organic and fair trade and 100% arabica. I think swooning like an 1850s lady in a corset seems appropriate at this juncture.
If you think that starting your morning with toasted almonds, sugar cane, and caramel sounds like a slice of heaven, those are the professional cupping flavors you’ll find in this cup of Jo. Humor me, just laugh.
Okay. Take a ride with me. It’s an adventure through time, to the birthplace of coffee, which is what Yirgacheffe is largely lauded as. Marley Coffee is organic, which would explain why it’s on this list, but it’s largely different from the others here.
It’s flavor profile is discussed more as wines are, fruity and aromatic, rather than like an indulgent dessert — Yirgacheffe coffee is the stuff that earns you your dorky, coffee connoisseur badge. It’s an 8 oz. bag that needs to be consumed within 3 weeks, but, if the reviews hold any merit, that won’t be difficult to accomplish.
Have respect, brewers! This bag is from the motherland.
There are a lot of buzzwords associated with this bag, including “single origin” and “responsibly sourced” and “environmentally-friendly roaster.” The beans are roasted immediately before packaging, which helps with our hunt for freshness — remember, fresh is best!
The unique note to this bag would be pear. When it intermingles with the brown sugar and cashew hints, it creates something altogether new that you would be remiss to pass up.
I like a brand that tells it like it is. I can admire the boldness, but they sure as all that’s good in the world better back it up.
There are a lot of positive words associated with this 2 lb. bag, including grown responsibly, sourced responsibly, roasted responsibly, packaged responsibly… And, while the writer in me groans at the repeated usage of the word “responsibly,” I logically know that all of those things are good. So, ya know, good job, Real Good Coffee Co. You’re good.
It’s a dark roast with a single origin in the Sumatras, and the soil certainly packs a punch. With notes of bell pepper and cedar, plus a lemony acidity, this is the kind of morning wake up call that won’t let your taste buds keep slumbering.
Kicking Horse Coffee is all organic, so you can happily look through their entire stock of coffees and choose a bag. I was about five seconds from choosing to add Kick Ass to this list, mostly so I could use the words kick ass, but Three Sisters takes the cake.
I mean, you can’t argue with Three Sisters. You’ll lose.
This beaut of a bag is named after a trio of towering Canadian Rocky Mountains, and it’s a blend of light, medium, and dark. The beans are from Indonesia, Central, and South America, but roasted in Canada to give it the kindness the rest of us desperately need.
It smells like toasted coconut, chocolate malt, and dried fruit, but tastes like sweet tobacco, stone fruit, and cocoa, so let this cuppa take you for a beautiful ride. How about it, eh?
I told you that I’m not going to tell you organic coffee is healthier for you, and I still won’t. There’s no definitive proof.
What there is definitive proof of is the fact that it’s healthier for the planet. Pay the few extra bucks per bag and smile knowing that you’re a better person than the dude or dudette grabbing non-organic options.
The winner this round is, without much of a choice, Marley Coffee, Organic One Love, Ethiopian YirgaCheffe, Ground Coffee. The other coffees didn’t stand much of a chance — this stuff is from the birthplace of coffee.
If you’re insisting I pick another, too, alright, alright, no need to be so pushy. I’d opt for the 2LB Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee - Medium-Dark Roast. I like their platform and their flavor profile was designed by the gods. I have spoken!
Enjoy your organic coffee!