Organic coffees are just that. Beans, grown without the need for any additives during production or processing. The advantage is that unlike non-organic alternatives, coffee grown under this way is sustainable for the environment while tasting great.
What else do you need?
Here’s a list of some of the best organic coffee beans I could find, grown in some of the most unique coffee farms around the globe. Starting with the top pick:
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Lifeboost’s medium roast coffee is my favorite organic coffee on the market. The beans of this company are mountain shade-grown in Nicaragua, where they are sun-dried and spring water-washed.
This coffee has a strong caffeine kick and a very low acid level. So it’s perfect if you experience symptoms of high acidity with other organic coffee brands.
It also has a crisp, bold taste that can cut through milk. And it has no bitterness, so it can be enjoyed as black coffee too if you prefer! This coffee is also fair trade and USDA-certified organic, so it’s both an economically and environmentally sustainable option for your morning cup of joe.
If you’re looking for an organic alternative that you can drink every day of the week, I don’t think you can go wrong with these Lifeboost coffee beans.
Related Read: Low Acid Coffees
If you enjoy identifying different tasting notes like me, I’d recommend Volcanica Coffee’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
These organic beans are sourced from Southern Ethiopia, known for their light but sweet floral and fruit-toned coffees. This variety is no exception. It’s a medium-bodied cup that’s brightly acidic with a pleasant, rounded mouthfeel.
If you want a taste of Ethiopia’s rich coffee history, this heirloom coffee is perfect. It has tasting notes of ripe strawberry, pineapple guava, chocolate, and lavender, with a cedar aroma.
It makes for an incredibly complex cup with a great combination of sweetness and gentle bitterness that you’ll never get tired of!
This medium roast by the Koa coffee company from Hawaii is another organic coffee that I love. The strong, fruity aroma is so distinct and intoxicating. And the roast and how these beans are processed highlight the exotic characteristics of coffee from The Big Island.
Grown at over 1200 meters above sea level, on the mountains of the Mauna Loa volcano, you can expect a complex and sweet cup of Joe from these 100% Kona beans.
It has a tropical taste that reminds me of mornings spent on the beach. Not much is better than that feeling!
Fresh Roasted Coffee is one of my favorite organic coffee brands, and their Black Knight Artisan blend is one of the reasons why.
It’s a rich coffee with a sweet caramelized sugar body that reminds me of crème brûlée. This lives up to its “dangerously dark” reputation. But despite the distinctly toasted flavor, these organic beans do a great job of not coming across as burnt. And the resulting cup’s profile is rounded out by the lovely aroma of plantains.
Not only is this blend delicious and USDA-certified organic. It’s also certified fair trade. Other brands of coffee should start taking notes. This is how dark roast coffee is supposed to be every step of the way.
Another Fresh Roasted brew that I like is the Bali Blue Moon organic coffee. Like the name indicates, these beans are from Indonesia.
The use of pesticides and chemicals is illegal there, so they need to rely on good coffee-growing practices to improve their beans’ quality. As a result, Indonesia is a coffee powerhouse that’s home to some of the world’s best organic coffee beans.
It’s also worth mentioning that this coffee is rainforest alliance certified. This means that it’s fair trade and grown in a way that protects biodiversity.
The best thing about this coffee is how it tastes. I love taking it in the place of dessert after meals. It has a great syrupy body, with notes of dark chocolate and vanilla bean and a spiced anise finish.
It’s naturally creamy, and I like it with milk or as black coffee. If you’re looking to spice up your coffee game, these beans can help you level up.
Even if you drink coffee for the warmth it brings you and not the caffeine, I’ve got you covered. Fresh Roasted’s Sumatra Swiss Water Decaf, also from Indonesia, is an excellent option if you’re caffeine sensitive.
Earthy, bold, and creamy. Uniquely processed via wet hulling, these beans are fair trade, shade-grown, and purchased directly from small holdings in Sumatra. Use coupon SIP10 for 10% off too!
They’re certified organic, fair trade, and shade-grown by Gayonese farmers in Sumatra. They’re known for having strict organic farming practices, and it shows up in their coffee. The use of recycled coffee pulp as fertilizer enhances its natural taste and body.
It’s a bold cup of coffee, with notes of chocolate, with a creamy finish, and subtle earthy tones. And the fact that it has no caffeine makes it perfect as a nightcap!
The other items on this list have all been medium or dark roasts so far. I know some people who prefer a mild brew over a thick-bodied coffee. If you’re more included to a ligher roast, this Ethiopian Sidamo coffee is perfect.
This heirloom cultivar is a high quality coffee sourced from the Shoye Cooperative in Ethiopia. If you want a taste of Ethiopian coffee’s origins, you should check these beans out.
It’s roasted ever so lightly, which brings out a delicious blueberry acidity. Despite being mild, it’s incredibly sweet and creamy, with earthy undertones that give it its character.
Overall, it has a very complete and complex taste profile. It’s a coffee I’d like to brew for myself on a slow, rainy afternoon. If you enjoy fruity brews, check out our favorite Ethiopian beans which are often best light roasted to appreciate their floral and fruity notes.
Volcanica’s Sumatran coffee is further proof that Indonesia has some of the best organic coffee in the world. Especially if you enjoy a dark roast with earthy under tones.
What I like about this coffee is that despite being quite complex, the taste is incredibly well-balanced. It has the exotic earthiness that’s common among Sumatran coffees, with syrupy notes of brown sugar, wine, and dried fruit. And its sharp acidity and cocoa aroma make for a delightful combination!
Sumatra coffee is also known for having a naturally low acid level. So if other coffees usually gives you issues with acidity, do yourself a favor and try switching things up. Good coffee doesn’t have to hurt, and the Sumatra Mandheling coffee from Volcanica suits even the more sensitive stomachs.
Related Read: Best Coffees From Sumatra
We’ve mentioned Volcanica a few times here, and too for good reason. It’s one of my favorite organic coffee brands. This particular bag of beans is a peaberry coffee and is of the Carnavari variety, sourced from Bolivia in South America.
It’s known for its sweet cocoa tones, and they’re showcased in these beans. This coffee has a very pronounced, lingering cocoa flavor that’s absolutely perfect for chocolate lovers.
Aside from being USDA-certified organic, these beans are also fair trade. That means you get to reward the farmers for extra care they provide these beans with.
They’re grown on what are called “micro lots”. These are smaller plots of land within or around coffee farms, and they’re known for growing consistently higher quality beans. And Volcanica’s coffee right here is proof of that!
If you’ve ever wished hot chocolate could be caffeinated, this organic coffee is the answer to your prayers!
Don’t take the phrase “Death Wish” lightly. It uses a slow roasting process that naturally increases the caffeine content in your bean, making it one of the world’s strongest coffees.
I expected this whole bean coffee by Death Wish to be unbearably bitter and astringent, but that wasn’t the case at all. This blend of robusta and arabica beans doesn’t have any bitter taste at all. What shine instead are its delicious notes of cherry and chocolate.
It’s intense, bold, and 100% organic and fair trade. And with twice as much caffeine as your average coffee brand, this dark-roasted creation of Death Wish Coffee Company is far from a joke. As good as the caffeine rush this coffee can give you sounds, please brew responsibly!
These 100% organic arabica beans are sourced the Marcala region in Honduras. This coffee is sharing certified. Like being fair trade, this means that the farmers who grow it are compensated more fairly than might be the case for many coffee brands.
Central America grown with a deep chocolate aroma and flavor.
And with the quality of this Honduran coffee, they’ve more than earned their stripes. It’s a full-bodied cup, with a profoundly deep chocolate flavor brought about by its medium-dark roast. Overall, it makes for a no-frills cup of coffee. This is for those who like to keep their coffee simple but sustainable.
It’s also a low acid alternative, so you won’t have to worry about letting it go to waste if your sensitive to standard beans. It’s a safe bet, and not just in terms of its taste and low acidity. Subtle Earth is willing to give a free refund to anyone who isn’t satisfied with their medium-dark coffee!
This blend by Kicking Horse coffee company is everything you like in a very dark roast, and everything you want in a bag of coffee from Amazon.
These arabica beans are certified organic and fair trade, so you know that the best farming practices are being implemented in growing these beans.
This is reflected in the taste of Kicking Horse coffee. Notes of chocolate malt, molasses, and licorice fill the cup, and are rounded off nicely by a splash of milk. It’s a combination of smoky and sweet, with a hint of vanilla.
If you like coffee that has a lot of character while being super dark, you might just love what Kicking Horse coffee has to offer.
A Buyers Guide to Organic Coffee
The word “organic” has become increasingly popular in the food industry in the past years. But not everyone understands what it means. Some people just assume that it just means “healthy”. But while that’s not necessarily wrong, it doesn’t paint the whole picture.
When a food product is organic, it means that only feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin was used in its production. The use of anything not derived from a plant or animal on a farm automatically disqualifies it from being certified as organic.
However, the USDA does have an approved list of non-organic substances that can be used in small amounts for organic farming. Other than those, no unapproved chemicals may be used at any point of the production and harvesting process.
Zero Coffee Pesticides
According to this article by the College of Agricultural Sciences in the Pennsylvania State University, “For all pesticides to be effective against the pests they are intended to control, they must be biologically active, or toxic.”
Here lies the danger of using pesticides. If they can be used to kill pests, they can also end up doing some damage to any organism that’s exposed to them. That includes the farmers, roasters, and you as well.
People’s reactions to pesticide exposure greatly vary. A reaction can be as mild as a temporary skin irritation, but it can also be life-threatening at times. In the article linked above, pesticides are said to have triggered severe allergic reactions in some people in the past.
So to avoid all that risk that’s being uncovered by research, people have slowly started making the shift to organic food products. When you see that a certain brand of coffee beans is certified as organic, that means you can be sure that no non-organic pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides were used in the growing, harvesting, and processing of your beans.
How is Coffee Certified Organic?
Anyone can claim that their coffee is organic, even when it really isn’t. So it’s always good to look for some sort of proof before taking a company’s word for it.
For coffees sold in the U.S., nothing is more legitimate than the “USDA Organic” seal of approval. This certification requires an annual inspection in order to be upheld. And it doesn’t come free! But if sellers want to assure their customers of the quality of their coffee, it’s a price they need to be willing to pay.
The USDA has standards for considering products as organic, set through its National Organic Program.
Like I mentioned, not all inorganic substances are harmful. For these, the USDA has what it calls the “National List”. This list contains all the minor inorganic ingredients that they allow to be used for farming.
They also require that there has been no use of any of the substances prohibited by the USDA in the last three years of farming. These substances include synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Traces of these substances can still be found in the soil (and therefore consumed by plants) even after their use. And they can prove to be harmful to organisms that comes into contact with them. That’s not only a danger to you and the farmers who grow their crops, but to the area’s biodiversity in general.
Benefits of Organically Grown Coffee
Not many people know this, but caffeine is coffee’s natural insect repellent. This is why robusta beans have around twice as much caffeine as arabica coffee! Robusta is located in lowland areas, where insects are more prevalent.
And while pests are less common in the high altitude areas where arabica thrives, they’re not totally absent. Because of this, arabica is often sprayed with pesticides, so farmers can protect their harvest from an infestation.
But sometimes, coffee is processed unwashed, even when pesticides are used. This ends up leaving traces of these pesticides on the beans.
You might assume that the process of roasting makes them safe for consumption. But not much is known about how pesticides react to being roasted.
Two schools of thought are that they could either be getting roasted off as the roast progresses, or cooked further into the coffee beans.
Whichever the case may be, choosing to buy from organic coffee brands will get rid of this problem altogether. Who wouldn’t love to know exactly what they’re putting in their mouth?
Like I mentioned, pesticides can negatively affect the health of any organism that is exposed to it. Because it can enter the soil, traces of it can be found in other plants. It can be ingested by birds and other living organisms in the area.
And many farms are located near surface water, too. Pesticides can seep into the water through the soil, and end up doing harm to the fish there as well.
As you can see, the use of pesticides can threaten an entire ecosystem. But if the coffee is organically grown, that means farmers have other ways to make sure that the coffee is produced healthily and sustainably.
This is a no-brainer. Organically grown coffee is good not just for the environment, but for humans as well. As I mentioned previously, it prevents exposure to the leftover pesticide residue on coffee.
Organic farming is healthier not just for you, but for the workers who are surrounded by their crops all day at their farms. No one should be risking their health just to give us our cup of coffee, when there’s a healthier alternative is available and in demand.
Everyone, both coffee farmers and drinkers alike, has something to benefit from organic coffee beans.
Where to Buy Organic Coffee
My go-to option for getting my organic coffee is buying it online. Many roasters have their own websites that you can order from. And of course, online platforms like Amazon can deliver coffee straight to your doorstep. There are even online marketplaces that allow you to buy directly from the farmers themselves!
This is a very convenient, and more importantly safe way to buy your organic coffee beans. There’s no such thing as being too careful these days, especially with the threat of the coronavirus constantly looming over our heads.
But it’s also important for both communities and economies that consumers support their local businesses. So if you live near an independent café that sells beans, you could also buy your organic coffee from them.
These places form their own partnerships and have their own sources for beans, unlike the bigger brands. So whether you’re looking to find a diamond in the rough, or just a unique coffee experience, this is another great option for you.
In my opinion, the best organic coffee out there is Lifeboost’s medium roast coffee. It has a low acidity level, it’s strong, and super delicious. If you’re looking for a benchmark to compare other coffees against, these beans would be a great place to start.
But in reality, everyone has different preferences when it comes to anything we put in our mouths. And coffee is no exception. Chances are, the best organic coffee for you on this list might be different from my personal pick – and that’s okay too!