I was talking to a customer this morning who asked me, “What does it mean to be Certified Organic?” About 30 seconds into my explanation, I noticed him looking at his watch, and I realized that this can be a pretty dense topic. It was a nice reminder to be brief in my explanation here. If you want to learn more, please follow the links at the end of the blog.
To be organic means grown with no chemicals. That means pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer. It also means that chemicals are not a part of the processing, and that exposure to chemicals from other sources (say a neighbors coffee farm or being shipped or stored next to chemicals) is prevented.
Unfortunately, people today know that the word “organic” sells and make organic claims that are untrue in order to sell their products. Sometimes these claims are true and sometimes they may not be true or only partially true, with non-organic products being sold as “organic.” Certification is the best way to be sure that what you are getting is actually organic. The USDA in charge of organic certification, however the certification process is done through one of several certifying agencies. Cafe Virtuoso is certified by Quality Assurance International.
Certifying entities perform regular inspections and audits of growers, importers/exporters and manufacturers (that’s us). The coffee and tea that we sell has to have a paper trail back to the farm it was grown on. That funny little code on the back of your bag can be used to trace all the way back to the specific farm and crop. If we were, for example sneaking some non-organics into our bags it would be readily apparent during this audit.
Currently the rules state that organic coffee needs to be roasted separately from non-organic coffee, with a “purge batch” to be performed before roasting organic coffees. We take it a step further by only putting organic coffee in our roaster. Studies have yet to prove that purging a roaster (~450F) removes chemicals found in non-organic coffees.
Next time we will look at some of the issues surrounding the relevancy of organics.
To learn more about organics read on…