Organic-Certified Coffee in the U.S.
Coffee lovers are more interested in organic coffee than ever before – NCA’s National Coffee Data Trends survey reports that 44% of coffee drinkers are more likely, or much more likely, to buy coffee that is certified as organic.
And it isn’t just coffee drinkers who are going organic: overall demand for organic foods continues to grow, reaching $55.1 U.S. billion in 2019 (OTA). This, of course, creates opportunities for coffee companies, and coffee farmers, to supply this growing demand.
If you are a coffee drinker, considering where your coffee comes from could be helpful when deciding whether organic coffee is right for you. Every cup of coffee starts with a coffee tree. The fruit of that tree – small, round berries, called “coffee cherries” – eventually ripens, and are picked when mature. The outside, fleshy part of the fruit is discarded, and the innermost seed eventually becomes the coffee bean. Coffee beans are then heated at very high temperatures, over 300°F, a roasting process which not only imparts flavor, but helps purify the beans.
What qualifies as “organic coffee”?
Coffee drinkers who prefer organic coffee should look for an organic certification seal on food product packaging. The organic certification provides confirmation that the coffee product has followed a rigorous organic supply chain management process and quality controls from tree to cup, intended to safeguard the organic standards, under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, which manages the National Organic Program, or “NOP.”
Standards for organic coffee
The USDA NOP program oversees standards established for organically produced agricultural products intended for sale in the U.S. The standards impact anything from the health of the soil and nutrients it contains, the types of plants grown (e.g. no GMO crops are used in production), management of pests and weeds, and impacts benefiting the surrounding environment such as carbon sequestration and improvement in biodiversity (USDA).
The USDA organic standards also require strict manufacturing and supply chain controls for roasting, manufacturing, and auditing practices. Companies following the National Organic Program also work closely with certifying agencies who uphold the organic standards.
Learn More about becoming certified as an organic business, finding an organic certifier, and new requirements proposed by the USDA in 2020 for strengthening organic standards.
Access Members-Only Organic Certification & Fraud Prevention Resources
(NCA Log-In Required)
Disclaimer: The content of this guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. The NCA makes no warranty of legal applicability or compliance. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter.