Where Coffee Is Grown Makes A Difference In Flavor

Foods & DrinksFood

  • Author Vida Humphreys
  • Published June 29, 2010
  • Word count 681

When you’re selecting your morning brew, you may wonder whether to choose the organic coffee or opt for a slightly less expensive brand. Many differences in the way companies grow, harvest and process the coffee make a huge difference in its taste. Coffee is also no different from real estate in that it’s location, location, location, which affects the flavor of the bean. Organic coffee uses several techniques that make a difference in how flavorful your cup of java tastes.

Location of the coffee plantation doesn’t affect whether it’s organic or not. Normally the most flavorful coffee comes from Arabica coffee bean. It’s not as hardy as the Robusta variety and needs specific growing condition. This coffee plant requires temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees and at least six inches of monthly rain. Since there’s not that much real estate fitting this description, coffee growers use other lands to produce the Robusto coffee plant. These are far more burnt, bitter tasting beans but they are valuable in making Italian roasts and espresso. The type of soil where the coffee plant grows makes a difference in the flavor. This also varies by location.

Organic farmers don’t use pesticides or commercial fertilizer in the production of their coffee. Some people find that it tastes better than regular coffee, but it might just be the growing conditions and the type of bean used. Even though pesticides and herbicides invade the bean, you often can’t taste the difference in flavor. What you do taste is the difference in farming practices. Since the Arabica coffee is grown at such high altitudes, there’s often little need for pesticides, since most pests that thrive on vegetation don’t live at such extremes.

Where Coffee Is Grown Makes A Difference In Flavor

Even though the label may not specify it’s organically grown, it might be. Many of the organically grown Arabica coffees come from small family coffee farmers. The farmers sell beans in a cooperative. In order to certify these farmers, each farmer would have to undergo the certification process, something quite time consuming and expensive for their size. If the bean is an Arabica bean from small cooperatives, they probably grow it organically.

Before the bean becomes a bean, it’s a cherry on the tree until it’s dried and hulled. Farmers that grow organically also use different methods of harvest from non-organic coffee growers. Instead of using large machines that harvest the entire tree at one time, they hand pick the cherries. This makes a huge difference in the flavor. They pick each cherry at the optimal moment rather than pluck them all at one time. If the farmers pick the cherries too soon, before it’s ripe, it affects the flavor of the coffee. Cherries that are green, not the optimal bright red, are bitter. Those that are overripe taste equally sharp and bitter.

Most organically grown coffee is dried and hulled locally at the farm. This does two things for the farmers. The hulls go back into the soil as compost and it increases the price they receive. Although wet washed fermentation of the beans normally has a more consistent flavor, the dry method of spreading the coffee cherries out in the sun and then removing the dried hulls is the traditional processing method. While the coffee if delicious from this type of processing, it’s not easy to control the rate that the coffee cherries dry, so occasionally the flavor may be a bit iffy. Luckily, most places where they practice this type of processing have stable predictable temperatures and humidity.

Where Coffee Is Grown Makes A Difference In Flavor

Roasting methods, packaging methods, storage and grinding affect the flavor too. Does organically grown coffee taste different, better or worse? The fact that it’s organically grown doesn’t guarantee a more flavorful product. It just means you’ll be adding toxins to your body from one less source and that may be enough of a reason to pay a little extra for your coffee.

For more information to help you easily transition to organic living, please visit Vida Humphreys at Eat Simply Organic

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