Best Organic Coffees

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best organic coffees

Last Updated October 2019

Over 50% of Americans drink coffee every day. The caffeine in coffee keeps us fueled through the workday or helps us get us out of bed in the morning, but we may not pay much thought to what else coffee contains.

The Coffea plant that produces coffee beans is one of the most pesticide laden plants on the planet. Not only are the pesticides and other chemicals used in coffee cultivation harmful to your body, they’re also destructive to the planet. Fortunately, certified organic coffees are widely available — you can be both a health-conscious and environmentally aware consumer without sacrificing your java fix.

When buying an organic coffee, the considerations are the same as when purchasing non-organic: roast, whole bean vs. pre-ground, and where in the world your coffee is from. In addition to organic certifications, there are also fair trade and non-GMO certified beans.

We’re here to help you find the best organic coffee beans to brew at home or at the office. Check out our top recommendations for a quick pick or keep reading for all you need to know about organic coffees.

The coffee bean is actually the seed of the berries that grow on the Coffea plant.

What does “organic” coffee really mean?

Conventional coffee is one of the most chemically treated foods in the world. It may be treated with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Not only do these chemicals leach into the environment, including our air and water supply, but the workers who spray them and harvest the crop are exposed to the toxins. Local communities are adversely affected by these chemicals known to be detrimental to human health.

Some of the pesticides commonly used in conventional coffee include glyphosate, aldicarb, carbofuran, fenpropathrin, and terbufos. A few of these have been strongly linked to cancer.

According to some studies, 85% of residual pesticides are burned off in the roasting process of the coffee bean. However, if you’re someone who drinks three cups of joe a day over a lifetime, those toxins can build up in your body.

The good news is that coffees that receive a USDA certification are grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. They are also grown without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and using sustainable farming techniques. 

What’s more, organic coffee beans are richer in antioxidants than conventional beans and taste better to many consumers.

Bold and highly caffeinated

One cup of this Arabica and Robusta blend boasts double the caffeine of your average cup of joe. The slow roasting process of this cult favorite yields a smooth, bold flavor. Everything from the aroma to the freshness of this dark roast is top-notch.

Key considerations

Whole beans vs. ground

Organic coffees come pre-ground or as whole roasted beans. Whole beans require the extra step of grinding at home in a coffee grinder. However, this gives the freshest cup; pre-ground beans oxidize over time and lose their flavor. Grinding your own beans also gives you control over the grind size. For instance, a French press requires a different grind than a cone filter. Single-serve cups for pod brewers contain ground coffee as well, and these are available in organic. Pre-ground coffee’s biggest asset is its convenience and the fact that it doesn’t require a coffee grinder. 

Arabica beans vs. robusta beans

There are two different Coffea plant species: Coffea arabica, which produces the arabica bean, and Coffea canephora, which produces the robusta bean. 60% of the world’s coffee supply is Arabica beans, and they make for a better cup of coffee, though they are more expensive than Robusta beans. Robusta beans make up the remaining 40% of the coffee supply and have a more bitter, harsh taste; these contain more caffeine than arabica beans. Both kinds of beans are available organic.

Roasts

Most coffee beans come roasted, though some are available raw and unroasted (also known as “green”). Roast affects the fullness of the flavor, not the caffeine level. Light roasts are light brown in color and “dry,” and the beans have a non-oily surface. They have the highest acidity of all roasts. Medium roasts are medium brown in color and have flavorful. Medium-dark roasts are rich in flavor and the beans are semi-oily with a bittersweet aftertaste. Dark roasts are the darkest and oiliest of beans, and you may see a little oil shimmering in your coffee. Dark roasts deliver the strongest flavor paired with the lowest acidity.

DID YOU KNOW?

Organic coffee is grown using more sustainable methods, like using mulch and growing in the shade of other trees. This keeps local ecosystems intact instead of destroying them.

Features of organic coffee

  • Fair trade: Organic is not synonymous with fair trade. Coffee labeled fair trade means its farmers were paid a living wage and no child or unfair labor practices were employed. The use of pesticides and chemicals are limited (versus organic where they aren’t used at all) and sustainable farming methods are used.
  • Environmentally friendly packaging: Organic coffee comes in a range of packaging including bags, tins, plastic containers, and single-serve cups. Some bags and one-cup pods on the market are biodegradable, which means you can compost them and reduce landfill waste.
  • Rainforest Alliance certified: Many coffee farms are grown by clear-cutting forests, which destroys local ecosystems. Coffee that is grown in the shade of other trees actually requires less pesticides. To be ultra-environmentally conscious, select organic coffee that is shade-grown and/or certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

Coffee is one of the most widely traded global commodities, with 12 billion pounds produced annually.

Organic coffee prices

Organic coffees range in price from $0.50 an ounce to $1.25 an ounce.

Inexpensive: Low-priced organic coffees range from $0.46 an ounce to $0.61 an ounce. For a two pound bag, the range is $18 to $24.50. These are all USDA certified organic beans.

Mid-range: Mid-priced organic coffees range from $0.69 an ounce to $0.94 an ounce. For a one pound bag, the range is $8 to $15. Sustainably farmed organic coffees can be found here.

Expensive: Premium organic coffees cost upwards of $1 an ounce. At the higher end of the spectrum, a one pound bag costs up to $20. These are Fair Trade certified. 

EXPERT TIP

Coffee contains antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • You don’t have to go to a coffee shop to get in on the cold brew trend. Purchase pre-ground organic beans to use in a cold press to make ultra-bold iced coffee at home.
  • If you have indigestion or acid reflux, you may not have to abandon coffee altogether. Choose an organic coffee labeled low acid. There are some brands coffee lovers with sensitive stomachs swear by as causing no tummy trouble.
  • For camping trips or for busy bees, try an instant organic coffee. A few manufacturers make organic options that stand alone as a solidly good cup.

Top-rated medium-dark roast

For a lower-priced organic coffee with great flavor, this medium-dark roast Arabica coffee is widely popular. At half the price of other organic beans, you’ll get a perfect roast that’s not too dark, not too mild, and a little oily. The flavor is smooth and chocolatey, and it’s not too bitter if you take your coffee black. The beans are ethically farmed in Central America.

Other products we considered

For the cleanest coffee around, look no further than Bulletproof The Original Ground Coffee Premium Medium Roast Gourmet Organic Beans. Not only are the beans grown without chemicals at high altitude and hand harvested for the very best bean, but they are also processed to minimize mold contamination. Farmers grow with traditional methods and this coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified. This mild roast has low acidity. This brew is often used in butter coffee recipes and is a top choice for Keto diet followers. 

A dark roast coffee from the town that knows their coffee, this Seattle-based Real Good Coffee Co. USDA Certified Organic Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee delivers a reliable, consistently smooth taste at an affordable price. Made from responsibly harvested Arabica beans, there’s no bitter aftertaste, which may account for why it tastes milder than most dark roasts. The fresh beans come in a big, two-pound bag that’s great for larger households or coffee addicts.

Choosing an organic coffee means you’re not compromising the health benefits of drinking coffee with harmful chemicals, fertilizers, or GMOs.

FAQ

Q. Are there health benefits to drinking coffee?
A.
Yes, quite a few, actually. Coffee is one of the top sources of antioxidants in the American diet. Antioxidants fight free radical damage, which can cause cancer and other chronic diseases. The type of antioxidants that coffee contains are called polyphenols. Coffee also increases circulation in the liver and protects liver health. It protects against neurodegenerative disease, like Alzheimer’s, and promotes cognitive function. Caffeine increases energy as well as athletic performance. It may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. To retain the health benefits of coffee, only use organic beans to avoid chemicals that are detrimental to your body.

Q. Does it matter where in the world my coffee beans are from?
A.
In terms of taste, different regions of the world produce coffees varying in flavor. For instance, coffee from Asia is heavy bodied and earthy, whereas coffee from Africa is fruity and floral. Latin American coffee tends to be sweeter and balanced. In terms of environmental impact, Brazil and Vietnam are two countries that clear cut forests to grow coffee without shade. Be aware that coffee grown this way uses more pesticides. Different countries also have different rules and regulations for certain pesticides. When in doubt, select beans that are USDA certified organic. 

The team that worked on this review
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