I’m a big coffee drinker, and I’d be willing to bet that you are too. In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee every single day, and the average coffee drinker has over 3 cups on a daily basis!
Unfortunately, however, most of the coffee that’s available on the market today comes from farms that spray a ton of chemicals in order to grow it. It’s one of the most heavily treated crops on the planet.
Since all of those chemicals can be ingested when we drink our daily cup of joe, it’s best to drink organic coffee instead.
You may be wondering what to look for when you’re buying organic coffee though. We dive into that below, and we’ve also found some of the best organic coffee brands that you can buy right now!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
The Best Organic Coffee Brands in 2021
If you’re looking to purchase one of the best organic coffee brands, Lifeboost is our top pick. It’s one of the pricier options on our list, but the price tag is a reflection of the incredible high quality of the beans.
Lifeboost’s farmers don’t use any chemicals during their growing or roasting processes, and their beans are rich in antioxidants that can reduce your risk of various diseases. Their roasts are all single-origin too, which contributes to the great taste.
In my opinion, the best-tasting coffees come from high altitudes, and Lifeboost’s coffee is grown in the shade of guava trees on a small plantation in the mountains of Nicaragua – 5,700 feet above sea level.
They offer a wide variety of roasts and blends, and you can subscribe to receive your favorites at your door on a weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly basis. Not only is it convenient, but the subscription will save you a lot of money too (nearly 50% off of the retail price)!
Kicking Horse is another great organic coffee brand that you should check out. They’re a small company that sources their coffee from small farms throughout South America, Central America, Indonesia, and Africa, and they roast the beans locally in Canada, which means it’s extra fresh and of extra high quality!
You also get a lot of variety with Kicking Horse. You can order their organic coffee beans in bulk if you have a coffee grinder at home (if not, check this one out or try a manual grinder for less noise), or you may be able to find their ground coffee at your local grocery store if you’d like to save time!
Kicking Horse is the largest fair trade coffee roaster in Canada, and they were also voted as one of the country’s best places to work, so you can rest assured knowing that you’re supporting a company that puts people over profits.
They sell one of our favorite decaf coffees too!
Pura Vida is another great organic coffee brand that you should check out if you’re looking for an eco-friendly company. They’ve been around since 1998, which means they know what they’re doing when it comes to growing high-quality beans!
Their commitment to sustainability also extends into their business practices. You won’t find any pesticides or herbicides used on their coffee beans!
The beans are shade-grown and they’re all Fair Trade too. What’s more is that the profits fund programs to help at-risk youth around the world.
Each bean is also carefully handpicked so that you get the highest quality possible.
Thrive Market is best known for their wide range of organic foods, and they have some really good coffee as well. It’s one of the least expensive organic coffee brands on our list, so it’s best if you’re on a budget.
Their breakfast blend coffee is one of our favorites, and we always get whole beans for the freshest flavor!
If you’re not a member of Thrive Market already, you can sign up for an annual membership to get their amazing discounts on organic coffee and many other organic products as well! They also offer organic tea and hot chocolate for those days that you need to take a break from coffee!
Like your coffee extra-strong? This will be the winner for you!
The self-proclaimed “world’s strongest coffee” is made with extra dark beans, so it’s perfect for those of us who love a hearty cup of coffee. In fact, through multiple 3rd party tests, Death Wish Coffee has shown to have twice as much caffeine as other organic coffee brands.
All of their beans are sourced from India and Peru, and they’re certified Fair Trade and USDA Organic.
Does Starbucks Use Organic Coffee?
Of course, we couldn’t write an article about coffee without talking about Starbucks. Unfortunately, they don’t offer an organic roast at this time though.
However, you can still find organic options in their stores. For example, you can purchase Evolution Fresh Organic juices in most U.S. Starbucks locations.
You can also order your hot chocolate or plain brewed coffee with organic milk if you prefer. All in all, there’s still a lot of options to choose from when you go to Starbucks, and many of them are still good for your health.
Why Should You Drink Organic Coffee?
In short, organic coffee is more sustainable and better for your health. This is because conventional coffee is one of the most destructive crops on the planet. Here’s why:
Conventional coffee contributes to deforestation. Many farmers clear acres and acres of trees in order to grow coffee beans in mass quantities, and it’s often grown in developing countries where deforestation and water pollution are a major concern. Organic coffee is usually shade-grown, which cuts down on pesticide usage (because birds prey on the pests) and over-watering.
Organic coffee is also often grown in ways that are beneficial to the soil, local wildlife, and surrounding plants and animals.
Conventional coffee is often processed with harmful chemicals. Many big coffee brands use chemicals in order to bleach the coffee beans, which removes some of their natural oils (thus the need for a cover-up chemical like carnauba wax). Some of the added chemicals are linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
Conventional coffee is farmed with harmful pesticides. These pesticides can seep into the coffee beans and become a part of your morning cup of joe. The best organic coffee brands usually source their beans from farms that don’t use synthetic fertilizers or harsh chemicals on their crops.
Is Coffee High in Pesticides?
The unfortunate reality is that almost all conventional coffee beans are heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides. This is because conventional agriculture is more focused on growing the highest volume of a single crop as possible, even if it takes large amounts of pesticides to do so.
The only way to ensure that you’re getting clean coffee is to buy it from a reputable source. Fortunately, there are many options for organic coffee out there (like the ones listed above)!
Does Roasting Coffee Kill Pesticides?
There’s been plenty of talk about how roasting coffee can kill off any and all chemical residues that may be on your beans, but many scientists disagree with the notion that all pesticides are completely destroyed by heat. Many pesticides are absorbed into the bean and aren’t killed during the roasting process.
Watchdog groups like Consumer Reports have found that some pesticides are completely resistant to heat, and others degrade over time into other chemicals that aren’t any better for you.
The good news is that many of these chemicals have been banned for use on any coffee products in the United States (for example DDT), but almost every country uses pesticides that haven’t been banned or regulated by the US Government.
The best way to avoid these pesticides in your coffee is to buy coffee beans or grounds that are certified organic by a reputable agency (like the USDA).
What to Look for When Buying Organic Coffee
When you’re buying organic coffee, there are some things to look for that aren’t necessarily as important when purchasing other types of food. You’ll want to do some research to find out where the coffee comes from, how it’s grown, how it’s processed and roasted, and what kind of certifications it has.
Origin: The country in which the coffee is grown can have a dramatic effect on the flavor and quality of your coffee. You may already be aware that there are single-origin coffees and coffee blends. Single-origin coffee is coffee that comes from a single region of the world. Coffee blends, on the other hand, are made with beans from different regions.
It’s important to look for proper sourcing information and craft roasts when considering a coffee purchase. These days most roasters just have “blends” available without any information about which origin beans their products contain or where they’re sourced from.
Growing Methods: There are many different ways to grow coffee plants, including in a field or with the use of shade trees.
Coffee plants that are grown using shade trees are more sustainable and decrease the use of pesticides. Shade grown varieties also allow growth during drought periods because they’re shielded from winds that dry out climates.
Processing Methods: Can you tell how the company processes their beans? If so, are they processed using chemicals or do they use methods that have been proven to be safe and effective?
Roasting Methods: How does your coffee brand roast their beans? Do they use high heat and other harsh, chemical-laden methods in their roasting process? (You can find out by asking them!)
Packaging: Is the package biodegradable or recyclable? If not, is there a recycling initiative at the company’s headquarters? Is the package made from corn or other bioplastics? If not, can you get a paper bag to go instead of one that’s lined with plastic?
Fair Trade: When you’re buying organic coffee, the best thing to look for is fair trade. You may have heard of this term before in relation to other products, but what does it mean when we’re talking about organic coffee?
In short, fair trade involves working with a cooperative of farmers using sustainable farming techniques and paying their workers double the minimum wage
Timing: Whenever possible, buy freshly roasted beans as opposed to ground ones. They should be less than two weeks old. This will give you a better-tasting cup!
USDA Certified Organic: The USDA created this certification to ensure that coffee beans (and other products) sold in the United States are grown without pesticides and other chemicals.
If you see the USDA certified organic stamped on a bag or can of coffee, then you know that it meets these criteria. This is by far the most commonly used certification of organic coffee.
Rainforest Alliance Certified: The Rainforest Alliance is one of the most strict growing certification programs you’ll find in the world. It requires that farmers and workers commit to sustainable farming methods for at least 3 years before they can get certified. These techniques include things like crop rotation, composting, and other techniques that are proven to enrich the soil and yield better coffee.
Rainforest Alliance also requires that every year the coffee farms be inspected to insure that these sustainable farming methods are continuously being used.
European Union Certified Organic: The European Union organic regulations are some of the strictest in the world. Farmers receiving this certification must meet all of the same requirements as USDA certified farmers, but they must go one step further and do a complete environmental impact report on the farm. This ensures that their farming practices are not harming the environment in any way.
What Makes Organic Coffee Better?
Organic farming is a lot more difficult than conventional coffee farming because organic farmers don’t use the chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that conventional farmers do. Because they have to maintain the soil quality year after year without letting it get contaminated, farmers have to spend weeks tilling the ground, removing weeds that sprout up, checking the soil quality and making sure it’s up to par.
Organic farmers tend to have a smaller yield than conventional ones because they don’t use chemicals, but this doesn’t mean their coffee is inferior by any means. Organic coffee is actually of higher quality than conventionally grown coffee in many ways.
Organic Coffee Tastes Better: There are certain natural compounds that allow you to taste the difference between conventional and organic coffee. Conventional coffee has been treated with chemicals like mold inhibitors, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. The flavor of these chemicals can sometimes be strong enough to overpower the natural flavor of the coffee bean.
Organic coffee, on the other hand, is grown without the use of toxic chemicals. This means that you are able to taste every one of those complex flavor notes that make great coffee so amazing.
Organic Coffee is Better for You: There are certain toxic chemicals used in conventional farming that have been known to cause cancer and other health problems. These chemicals can make their way into the beans, which means you are ingesting them when you drink coffee.
Organic Coffee is Better for Farmers: Though roasting coffee burns off some of the chemicals and pesticides used in conventional coffee, these chemicals can still be quite harmful to the farmers and workers who grow the beans. Many pesticides have been known to cause skin rashes, liver damage, and other serious side effects.
Organic Coffee is Better for the Environment: Not only can conventional coffee be bad for the farmers, but the chemicals used in farming can also contaminate the local ecosystem and harm animals and other people that live nearby. They’ve been known to cause massive fish kills along streams and rivers near conventional coffee farms. This is because these chemicals linger in soil and water for decades.
Conventional coffee growers aren’t required by law to test their crop for harmful chemicals or even check if their water source has been contaminated by nearby farms. Certified organic coffee farmers, on the other hand, have to test their crops every year for chemicals that are banned in the U.S., such as DDT and dieldrin. If they find any of these chemicals, they can’t sell their crop as “certified organic”, which means they won’t be able to get the USDA certificate of approval
Why Is Organic Coffee More Expensive?
Organic coffee commands a higher price because of the extra work required in order to grow it.
1 . Organic coffee is grown without any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Instead, they must rely on more natural and time-intensive methods of getting rid of pests and weeds.
2 . Organic coffee is also typically grown at higher elevations (where it gets colder) using more space (which means less crops can be planted). This makes organic coffee significantly more expensive to produce.
Organic coffee is a great choice for those who are looking to support sustainable farming practices or simply want the best-tasting cup of joe. Organic coffee often commands a higher price tag because it requires more time and effort to grow than conventional methods. But don’t let that scare you! When you buy organic beans from one of these top brands, your taste buds will thank you for all eternity.
If you’re a big coffee drinker, you may also want to check out our Volcanica Coffee review. We tested out their shade-grown and organic coffees, and we’ll definitely be adding them to this list once they get their USDA certification!