There’s a lot of jargon in the coffee world - words and phrases like ‘organic,’ ‘fair trade’ and ‘shade grown’ are thrown around in conversation and stamped on labels, but many of us don’t really know what they mean, how we got them, or more importantly, how they affect our bodies and our world.
Coffee is one of the most widely-traded commodities in the world. In order to meet the ever-growing demand, farming methods have developed that maximize production, often at the expense of the health of the consumer and the environment.
Here at WYLDER, we want to equip our coffee lovers with the information they need to make purchases that match their values for the environment, the farmers, and their own health. We’ve broken down a few of our coffee descriptions and what they mean to empower you to purchase your favorite drink with the confidence of a connoisseur.
Organic: The organic label on coffee indicates that the coffee was not produced with artificial chemical substances, such as certain additives, or some pesticides and herbicides–this means cleaner beans, land, water and air. It also means the soil farm’s fertilizer must be 100 percent organic–made from organic material like chicken manure, coffee pulp, bocachi and general compost. This leads to coffee beans richer in antioxidants, so your health also gets a boost.
In the US, organic coffee crops are overseen by the Department of Agriculture, and while their standards discourage the use of chemicals on cropland within three years preceding the harvest in question, not all USDA certified organic products are necessarily free of chemical residues. Which is why here at WYLDER, we go one step further.
Biologically Grown: When forests are cleared to make room for coffee, production increases and prices go down, but the wild ecosystem of the flora and fauna we know and love is demolished, including those natural pest-deterrents like lizards and birds. This leads to the overpopulation of coffee-ruining insects and in turn, more pesticide use–and you’d be shocked to know what all goes into some of these pesticides. It’s pretty nasty stuff.
With the conventional “clear the way for coffee” method, the natural fertilizer of these ecosystems (like animal poo and leaf decay) also go away, which in turn leads to an increase in chemical fertilizers - yes, that’s right, more chemicals.
Without the natural protection of bigger trees from the established forest and the other understory plants which create proper soil stability, rain washes away the nutrient-rich upper soil layers, eventually making new growth impossible without reintroducing nutrients like fertilizers. This water runoff carries with it all those nasty chemicals we mentioned earlier - which end up in rivers, lakes and local water supplies.
Biologically grown coffee like WYLDER is grown on farms which plant within the established forests, where the...