What does organic mean?
Today, as we re-launch Organic Simply Brazil, I wanted to write a little bit about what organic coffee can mean. Growing coffee organically can be a fact of life where you just cannot afford chemicals to spray. Consequently, this results in less harvest volume and income. These growers are the silent masses, that never certificate their crops. Many people that assume coffee has been grown organically. This is no guarantee, dare I say it; without certification.
Some co-operatives have blanket certification. This means that tens or hundreds of smallholder producers can certificate together. This is no guarantee of quality, just that the coffee is produced organically.
Then you have this scenario. You buy a coffee farm. You believe passionately in organics and you start planting, after making sure the ground has been clear for 5 years. You lose more plants to nature. Your plant food is limiting and more expensive, your insecticides (that are organic, such as neem) are less potent and more expensive again. Your yields are less, although you are rewarded with more biodiversity and sometimes better coffee. It is a lifestyle choice for some and a rule to live by for others. In many parts of the world, it is highly challenging now.
The farmers we work with (in Brazil) who grow organic coffee, struggle to understand why the UK consumer doesn’t buy more organic coffee. Historically we have bought Organic coffee for the cup quality and also because farm scale is sometimes much smaller too, and personally I like that a lot! Until this year 90% of the organic coffee that we bought has been sold as non-organic or “conventional” as it also known. Buying Organic coffee directly and then sending it to someone iconic like The Organic Farm Shop is such a great thing to do. Also, coffee is one of the few crops they don’t grow there.
To finish the post, if you have stuck with my lack of grammar and clumsy wordiness. There is some good news. This year we have seen a rise in retail organic sales. This has been people buying because the coffee is specifically organic. It means a lot and is the beginning of things to come we hope.