Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Café Aficionado : The coffee growers

Early this year, I had posted an article on coffee that outlines some pros and cons regarding consumption. I love coffee.  It has been my morning drink since young adulthood.  

However, with all the recent emerging studies, like most folks, I’ve become ambivalent, and nowadays would often reach for a tall glass of water or coconut water in the mornings.

Surprisingly, my love for a cup of steaming coffee in the mornings has not completely diminished, I’ve just curtailed it.  On the other hand, on afternoon snacks, I’d still prefer it – hot or cold – over soda. 

What’s even more intriguing is that lately, I find myself fascinated by the stories behind coffee – from growing to distribution to various studies on its consumption.  Perhaps, it is because coffee is the second most traded product in the world after petroleum with a global production that tips the scales at about 6 million metric tonnes. In addition, the Quiño Farm here in Bohol, yields 3.2 metric tons of coffee green beans per hectare, which is about ten times higher than the 0.3 to 0.4 metric tons local average.

Be that as it may, here’s another article based on a study I had recently come across online.  Incidentally, I plan to post articles about coffee on a regular basis from now.  I am entitling this series: “Café Aficionado.” 

According to article by April McCarthy, as much as we savor our morning brew and many health benefits are being discovered regarding drinking it, in the last hundred years, its growing methods have been evolving in less desirable ways.

For one thing, it is said that the conventional farming methods utilized by coffee growers have become very polluted. Coffee is now one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world; coating the beans with chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. Moreover, these chemicals seep through the ground water and eventually make people sick in the regions where coffee is grown. Over 1,000 chemicals have been reported in roasted coffee, and 19 are known rodent carcinogens.   

It takes five years for a coffee tree to reach maturity, and its average yield is usually the equivalent of one roasted pound of coffee.  And to ensure maximum yield from their crops, coffee growers resort to toxic methods, including the use of harmful chemicals to rid the crops of insects and pathogens.

As a precautionary measure, health advocates recommend that consumers brew their coffee within 4-6 weeks after roasting. The industry standard shelf life is 1 year. Regrettably, over 70% of coffee importers do not follow these protocols, which far exceeds the time range for sales and stock.

It is further recommended that coffee lovers think twice before having another cup of that “satisfying” coffee from  Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, or any other establishment that offers coffee produced by conventional methods.  If at all possible buy your coffee only from those produced by using organic sources with certified credentials. Check your labels and ensure you are purchasing organic certified products.

In the States, there are supposedly renowned coffee beans and brands for organic java which are trusted by coffee aficionados worldwide, such as Green Mountain, Fair Trade Organic, Sprouts Farmers Market and Tom Thumb (Safeway), to name a few.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this information. I will be seeking out organic coffee from now on. Our modern farming methods have gone so far beyond ethical, it is sometimes frightening. Sometimes it is overwhelming to know what one person can do to change things. But buying organic is something we can all do.

    1. Hi Karen, yes if you can, try to get organically-grown coffee, especially for you and your family's consumption.

  2. i started drinking coffee at a young age, and we had organic coffee. my grandfather grew coffee, my lola roasted and grind the beans in her kitchen. we still use barako up to this day--but i don't think it's organic. i remember there was a coffee plantation in Negros when i was growing up, owned by the Oriartes. i wonder what happened to it.

    1. From what I was told, Luna, barako coffee is not completely organic, but it has less chemicals than the other coffee beans grown here in the Philippines. Those I know who aren't that much of a coffee lover choose barako for that reason.

      I didn't get into coffee til before my adulthood, because we were given powdered canned milk, KLIM. Not sure if it was all that healthy for us kids.

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