Latest Posts

  1. Moka Java: Re-Constructing the World's Oldest Blend

    Moka Java: Re-Constructing the World's Oldest Blend

    The long, storied past of Moka Java blend and how to blend it yourself.

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  2. Roasting Fundamentals: Getting Started with Decaf Coffee

    Roasting Fundamentals: Getting Started with Decaf Coffee

    Tricky to roast but better tasting than ever.

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  3. Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Two Ways: Regular vs. Decaf

    Ethiopia Organic Dry Process Two Ways: Regular vs. Decaf

    An amazing dry process Ethiopia now available as both regular and decaf.

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  4. Flores: A Balanced and Beautiful Indonesian coffee

    Flores: A Balanced and Beautiful Indonesian coffee

    Flores is a unique Indonesian coffee area, not just because the Komodo Dragons are some close... but because of the excellent quality.

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  5. Rwanda Mutovu Video Tour: Incremental Improvements, a Competition-Level Cup

    Rwanda Mutovu Video Tour: Incremental Improvements, a Competition-Level Cup

    Small improvements at Rwanda Mutovu washing station has led to a consistent, competition-level coffee.

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  6. Sweet Maria's Staff Picks: Featuring Ryan

    Sweet Maria's Staff Picks: Featuring Ryan

    ...because we have our favorites too.

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  7. Behmor  Roaster: Video Primer on Cleaning and Maintenance

    Behmor Roaster: Video Primer on Cleaning and Maintenance

    Clean your roaster. Clean your roaster. Clean your roaster.

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  8. Rwanda Kageyo : Fresh Coffee and a Fresh Infrastructure Project

    Rwanda Kageyo : Fresh Coffee and a Fresh Infrastructure Project

    We're helping fund a buildout at the Kageyo station and you can help too!

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  9. Six Under Six

    Six Under Six

    Six Super Coffees...all under six bucks.

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  10. Video: Light Roastin' With Your Behmor

    Video: Light Roastin' With Your Behmor

    Grab the controls and roast a light batch with your 1600

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  11. Honduras: Coffee Sourcing Challenges

    Honduras: Coffee Sourcing Challenges

    While we may have struggled to find a consistent source in Honduras, we continue to come up with good coffee. Find out how.

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  12. Flores as Espresso:  Manu Lalu Coop Lot

    Flores as Espresso: Manu Lalu Coop Lot

    Wet process Flores makes fantastic single origin espresso. Have a look at our cupping notes.

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Organic Certification and Green Coffee

Organic Certification and Green Coffee
Oct. 25, 2019

When we have certified organic coffees they have "organic" or "FTO" (fair trade and organic) in the coffee's name. You can view our current organic offerings here

Much of the coffee we source is grown without fertilizer or pesticide or fungicide. We know this because we travel to origin and we see the farming practices personally. Certified organic coffee, however, is a different matter. While there are many cases where organic certificates benefit farmer groups, we've probably seen as many cases where it doesn’t. Certifications are not a guarantee of stewardship of the land. 

Specialty coffee of the arabica variety (what we sell through Sweet Maria's) is generally traditionally grown - so sparse use of pesticides, if any.  It is the robusta variety coffee grown in the mega-agri-business coffee areas like Brazil, Vietnam, and China that are more worrisome. 

A lot of coffee farmers in Ethiopia and Yemen are essentially organic simply because the farmers are too poor to afford pesticides, but on the other hand, they also can't afford the official organic certification. Kenya is a different story - while still not mega-agribusiness style farms, they do use pesticides and other more western methods of pest and weed control and so it is rare to find an organic Kenyan. Most Central and South American coffee farms will use some fungicides due to Roya, the coffee rust disease, but such use is targeted and occurs long before any fruit begins to grow on the tree. 

In terms of how much pesticide reaches the cup - we think roasting, grinding and brewing could eliminate almost all traces of pesticide.  It's much more likely you could be exposed to pesticides via fresh produce like beans or tomatoes if those are not organic. We don’t want to minimize the importance of organic farming - it is a real concern for the health of the farm workers and the environment of the farms, but certification isn’t necessarily the best way to identify good farming practices.