Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sips of Coffee

Fair Trade, shade grown, organic, conventional, sustainable, decaf or regular.
Lot's of choices surround the amazing coffee bean that more than 50% of Americans drink on a daily basis. What do they mean?
Let's take a more in-depth look at what you should know before taking your next sip.
  • Fair Trade is where people in developing countries are paid a fair wage for sustainable farming practices.
  • Shade grown is what it sounds like, coffee beans grown in the shade. Cultivating this way increases biodiversification and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Since it takes longer for coffee to grow in the shade, the overall acidity is reduced due to increased sugars caused by slow growth. Tastes yummy!
  • Organic is where neither pesticides or herbicides were used to grow the beans, making your cup of Joe chemical-free.
  • Conventional coffee is coffee grown in the full-sun and the majority of commercialized coffee is grown this way. Folgers, Maxwell House or any other producer that doesn't use organic practices falls into this category. Due to the use of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, production is quicker and much higher allwoing for cheaper prices to be passed onto the consumer. Remember, cheaper is not always better!
  • Sustainable is where the farmers use minimal amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, conserve resources and protect the environment.
  • Decaffeinated coffee can be appreciated by some who enjoy the taste of coffee, but can't take the caffeine high. Just remember there is a bit of caffeine in every decaf, but only about 1/40th of the amount found in a regular cup of Joe. Just be sure that if you drink decaf you choose a coffee that was decaffeinated using the Swiss water process. This is where water, rather than solvents, is used to remove the caffeine from the beans, leaving you with a chemical-free decaf.
Phew! A lot to consider before buying your next pound of coffee, huh? If we make choices that are beneficial to ourselves, the environment and the farmers,our pocket books may be a bit slimmer, but the overall positive impact we have on our planet is worth it!

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