Does buying organic coffee really matter? That is the question that I have avoided for years. I LOVED my brand and my roast of coffee. I chose to be ignorant. I knew that I SHOULD be buying organic, but, I LOVED my coffee.... and besides, Organic Coffee is more expensive.
My husband emailed me an article about coffee. This article forced me to look at exactly WHAT I was putting into my body every morning. The more I researched, the more I knew that I needed to change my daily brew.
Did you know that after oil, coffee is the most traded commodity in the world? Did you know that after water, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world? In order to keep up with the worldwide demand, coffee farmers have had to take coffee plants out of their native growing habitats and move them to large scale coffee plantations. In their native habitat, the coffee "bean" grows in the shade of large, tropical trees. They grow slowly and are protected from pests by the birds that nest in the trees above.
To keep up with worldwide coffee demand, coffee farmers have cultivated the coffee bushes on large coffee plantations. There are acres and acres of coffee plants that have been re-located to sunny fields. Because they are now in the sun, the "beans" ripen at a faster rate, and produce more coffee per bush. That is great for the farmer, but not for the consciensious consumer or for the environment. In order for the coffee bushes to survive in their non-native habitat, without the protection of the birds and the shade, it is necessary for the coffee to be doused with both pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Not only are the "beans" laden with chemicals on the outside, after years of these practices, the soils that the coffee plants grow in are saturated with the pesticides and chemical fertilizers. In some areas, the run-off is actually seeping in to local ground water, streams and rivers.
Oxygen is the enemy of coffee. Once roasted, coffee beans have a VERY short life. Roasting of the green beans brings out the natural oils in the coffee and once exposed to air, these oils turn rancid in quite a short period of time. You often hear of coffee being "stale", but did you know that your coffee actually turns rancid? When roasted coffee is exposed to air, oxidation rapidly breaks down the aromatics into dull, upleasantly woody flavors. With darker roasts, it gets worse, since the oils, bleeding to the surface, become rancid. The staling of the beans accelerates with each day of exposure. Ground coffee will lose the vast majority of its aromatics within 24 hours of exposure.
Interestingly, some people who get an "upset stomach" from coffee have actually found that it is not from coffee itself, but rather from drinking coffee that is stale and has gone rancid.
Because of the quick deterioration of the coffee oils and flavors, it is recommended that you treat your coffee beans like a loaf of fresh bread. Consume your freshly roasted coffee beans within 10-14 days of the date that the beans were roasted on.