Skip to comments.Organic coffee: Why Latin America's farmers are abandoning it [lib suicide watch ]
Posted on 03/07/2010 7:16:48 PM PST by Moe Tzadik
GUATEMALA CITY Some 450,000 pounds of organic coffee sit in a warehouse here, stacked neatly in 132-pound bags. It's some of the world's best coffee, but Gerardo De Leon can't sell it.
"This is very high quality and it's organic. But ... the roasters don't want to pay extra these days," says the manager of FEDECOCAGUA, Guatemala's largest growers' cooperative, which represents 20,000 farmers.
De Leon is asking $2 per pound for the unroasted coffee, about 50 cents more than the going price. But he says he'll soon have to sell it as conventionally grown coffee, which sells for less.
That's why many Mesoamerican farmers here are starting to give up on organic coffee: The premium price that it used to fetch is disappearing.
(Excerpt) Read more at seattletimes.nwsource.com ...
Wow thanks for memories.
You can't roast the caffeine out; caffeine content is a function of the beans used, not how much they were roasted. When I buy coffee, I look for the beans that appear moist in the hopper, then freeze them at home and grind right before use. I suppose some people might think dark roast has a "burned" flavor, but to me, it's the richest flavor. The coffee flavor just isn't as strong in medium roasts, and I don't drink light roasts. I make coffee *very* strong. And I love Starbucks. Coffee preferences are very much a matter of taste, and there is no "superior" style of preparing coffee.
Farmers are price takers, no price makers.
>> I wont consume anything organic!!!
I hope only to protest feelgood liberalism - otherwise, it’s often better quality food.
“its often better quality food”
You’re full of shit!!!!
>> The dude needs to sell it direct to consumers online.
Yup, but it still needs to be roasted and cleared for critters.
Also, there is less caffeine in the darker roasted coffees than in the lighter ones.
The quick answer is that for the most part, lighter roasts actually have more caffeine than darker roasts. When coffee beans are roasted, the beans undergo a series of physical changes including growing in size, becoming lighter in weight but also burning off some caffeine. The longer the beans are roasted (the darker the beans), in general, the less caffeine they will have solely due to them having more and more caffeine being burned off.
Many people think that if coffee beans are dark roasted and have a fuller flavor, then the coffee is stronger and contains more caffeine. Quite the opposite! Most light roasts will have more caffeine than their darker roast counterparts because the roasting process causes the beans to go through physical changes that make them burn off caffeine as a result.
Sorry for being a little obsessive!
“I insist on Chase & Sanborn.”
I only buy Community Medium Roast coffee.
Maybe the caffeine isn’t roasted out, but I can’t stand the burned flavor at Starbucks, even if you can bring your guns. Remember that the French roasted cork to produce ersatz coffee in WWII; when your roast is THAT dark, you’re basically percolating charcoal briquettes...
I heard that some people roast their own beans at home. Maybe that would solve everybody’s problem, from Mrs. Olsen to poor Organic Juan Valdez down there.
P.S. Folgers will do, but I like Farmer Brothers...
I imagine it isn’t all roasted out, but there is less caffeine in dark roasted beans than lighter roast.
I love Starbucks, and any other coffee shop that can give me something close to the coffee I remember in Europe, especially France.
I wouldn’t go so far as to try to roast my own beans; my oven probably doesn’t have the fine temperature control needed. But I buy the darkest roasts I can, with beans so dark they look like dark chocolate.
I can’t tolerate most coffee that comes in cans.
“Ill stick with my Folgers.”
I’ll stick with my YUletide BANquet.
It’s cheap and gets the job done.
I like Costco’s Seattle Mountain Roast Columbia Supremo.
I use a popcorn maker to roast coffee. It usually turns out quite good but its too smoky to roast inside and doesn’t work in cold weather.
Ah, so you have happy memories of le cafe de la belle france... That explains a lot!
Actually, I was thinking of a counter-top device that I’m sure I’ve seen advertised - “perfect roast every time” or some such, enough for a cup at a time, or maybe a pot. But since you like Starbucks, you can always find your blend.
My problem is that I’m in the same boat as the libs on whom so many posters are dumping their Folgers: I like the expensive stuff, but hate paying for it!
132 lb. bags
Guatemalan coffee is NOT bagged in 132 lb. bags.
It is measured by the POUND, not the Kilo. Period. Dot.
150 lb. bags, 250 of which make one trading unit = 37,500 lbs., which is about as much as can be loaded into a truck without exceeding 80,000 lb gross vehicle weight limits...
Other localities bag their green coffee differently. Colombia bags in 70 Kilo increments (154-155+ lb.s depending upon the leakage through the weave, by the time it leaves a U.S. shipper's dock).
Most Asian coffees are bagged in 60 Kilo (132+lb.) bags.
Sumatra, Java, New Guinea, Sulawesi, Flores, etc., all bag in 60 Kilo, along with every African coffee I've dealt with.
Hmmm, I'm thinking Colombia is the only with 70 Kilo. Even Panama (if memory serves) bags in 150 lb. Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, & Brazil , all bag 150 lb. NOT "Kilos".
Obviously, the news writer doesn't know beans.
The real "high grown" coffee from whichever nation, doesn't even much need the 'organic' labeling.
If it is truly high grown, the pests typical to coffees in lower elevations are generally not present, hence the lack of pesticide use for those locales.
In the high altitudes, non-organic fertilizers are pretty much unheard of, too.
The 'organic' labeling for such coffees is superfluous, not to mention expensive to get, and at least used to have such stipulations that the ripe cherry couldn't be gathered into 5 gallon plastic buckets, but had to be put into baskets made of 'native orgainic materials', preferably woven indigenously...
Which has nothing to do with being "organic" unless one is a Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange sycophant.
Ever smell a Korean kimchee field? In the hot sun? Only shade the shadow of the cloud...of flies?
I only want U.S.A. raised 'regular' produce, and only buy what I can't grow.
At least we have COR labeling now, so we can make a real choice.
$1.50 -$2/pound for raw beans?
For the difference in prices at the store for roasted beans, I could use one of those 132# bags, and do my own roasting...
What did he say his phone number was?
Community Coffee here in La. Folgers??
I just launched a mouth full of store brand coffee at my screen... Thanks for the chuckle...
I am a little more serious about my beer...
When i was in college back in the late 70s, i did an exchange program in Colombia. I have NEVER had coffee as good as what i had there. They supposedly export all of their best beans but even 100% colombian coffee beans, hand ground etc, here, NEVER taste as good as the coffee did there. We toured coffee plantations, coffee processing plants etc.
Organic coffee does taste better but.....This seems like a supply and demand problem. High demand from US and Euro greenie types resulted in huge acreage of organic coffee trees. Probably during the bubble years
Now there is an oversupply so if you make the extra effort to go& grow organic there is no reward
Liberals WANT to be made to behave (after all, they can’t control themselves), as well, they want the rest of us to be made to “behave” according to their mandates for the environment, etc. It’s working.
I will have to try an Ethiopian coffee the next time I order coffee. Taste is the primary reason I make my own at home. For around $11/lb, I have enough good quality coffee to last at least two weeks.
Greetings from North Texas.
I’m going to make a wild guess, you currently live near sea level, and were at altitude in Columbia.
(nully testing a theory)
First off, all grocery coffee is stale. Roasted coffee stales in about three to five days after roasting. There is a point between twelve hours and three days that the coffee is typically at it's peak flavor.
Second, many store-bought coffees are not all Arabica beans, which is the most flavorful type. Many grocery brands are cut with Robusta beans, which boosts caffeine and can be grown at lower altitudes and better harvested with machinery.
Organic or not, the best coffees can be found at small coffee farms, where attention to detail both in cultivation and cherry selection. Most of what I buy comes from a lefty group known as Sweet Marias (www.sweetmarias.com). I don't question their politics - I just enjoy some of the best coffees the world has to offer. You would be very surprised at the variety of tastes and flavors you can find between different origins and farms.
This is my roaster:
It's a nice hobby, and the best thing is - like beer brewing - you have something very good that not many store brands can duplicate.
That was back when I roasted about 20 bags a month on larger roasters (but not so large they didn't still qualify as what is termed "small batch" roasting).
Am not in the coffee biz, anymore, but I do miss the variety. I don't miss that sorry excuse for a drum roaster, though. As a 'sample' roaster, it was no good. I could never get rid of the plastic taste. Lining the small dump bin with foil might have helped.
Never buy an AlpenRost --- not of the vintage pictured, anyway. I could do better or as good, in a frying pan over an open fire.
I see the one you have has a cooling bin. I'll assume it's air suction cooled, much as larger roasters. It appears there may even be a thin, narrow sweep at the bottom? I can't tell from the photo, but passing under the beans, lifting & stirring a bit would be good.
What kind of overall time profiles do you use? A bit less than ten minutes? 12?
I've gotten the impression that with micro batches, shorter roasting times than typically used with actual commercial roasters, is better.
Trying to match the roast profile I used in larger roasters would tend to 'bake'. I found that out when using a 30 Kilo machine, roasting both large, and smaller amounts.
The larger batches would develop well under a certain profile...trying to match that profile, in the same equipment, with a load 1/4 the weight, wouldn't give identical results.
The smaller loads not only would want to roast faster, but liked it, too.
But then again, there are lots of variables. Air temp, air flow volume, what the radiant heat transfer rates of both the drum itself, and the individual coffee are like, etc., not to mention moisture content of the bean, in the first place(!)- bean density & size, all enter into the equation.
As far as your claim that roasted coffee is "stale" after three to five days, most pros would differ on. It outgasses for about three days.
And yes, I typically always like it best right out of the roaster. (I should have ALWAYS cupped the next day, avoiding the initial out-gassing, but I didn't)
I've probably brewed thousands of cups that way, snatching a handful from the cooling bin. BUT --- some coffees & blends actually mellow out after a few days, even a week, with the overall cup improving as harsher edges sort-of round off. Been there, done that. Heavier bodied coffees can tend that way...
yep. when its burnt, you call it a darker roast.
If you want strong coffee, you use more grounds when you brew it. :p
yep. demand by itself is what people are actually buying. which actually has apparently gone down, because the price was so high.
What I dont get, is why he has to sell it as conventional coffee..? why not just cut the price by $.25 or so and sell it as slightly cheaper organic coffee? Or does Guatemala have a fixed price floor on organic coffee?
Why don’t we get the Afganny poppy farmers to grow coffee instead?
One of my dad’s coworkers has a friend in Columbia who owns a coffee plantation or something, and brings back a bunch of coffee when he visits, and brings some up to the office for everyone :) It was delicious!
“my wife once bought a five-pound bag of this hippie coffee, on sale at the local co-op. It was the best coffee I’ve ever tasted”
Only good thing about hippies I ever noticed was their food.
“Folgers Black Silk.”
Heaven in a cup.
I look for the beans that appear moist in the hopper, then freeze them at home and grind right before use. I suppose some people might think dark roast has a “burned” flavor, but to me, it’s the richest flavor. The coffee flavor just isn’t as strong in medium roasts, and I don’t drink light roasts. I make coffee *very* strong. And I love Starbucks. Coffee preferences are very much a matter of taste, and there is no “superior” style of preparing coffee.
I like what you said there. Light roast coffe isn’t coffee, it’s tea imo.
One of my faves from when I was in Germany
Um ... that's because it is burned. Seriously. Dark roasts are actually turning to charcoal at that point. If you like that flavor, fine.
Lighter roasts allow more nuanced flavors to emerge, akin to tasting fine wines. The whole roasting process is complex: if you're not familiar with "first crack" and "second crack" and "city roast" vs. "full city roast", then the palette has a long way to go.
Visit Sweet Marias for an intro to connoisseur coffee.
i was in college in Pittsburgh at the time, and currently live in DC, don’t know the various altitudes, but let me know what you figure out!i have never tasted coffee in the US as good as i had when i lived in Colombia, no matter where i bought it or what i paid for it. The coffee farms we visited were in various parts of Colombia. The stuff they sold in the grocery stores in vacuum packed blocks was superb, that’s what i brought back.
you are lucky to have a contact like that! i have also visited Costa Rica and their coffee is also very good, but does not compare, IMO, with Colombian coffee.
Another beautiful theory ruined by ugly facts.
i hate doing this bc i can’t stand the grammar nazis and i don’t capitalize while freeping and take periodic crap for that, but i do have to say that the country is COLOMBIA, and the coffee is COLOMBIAN. not like obam’s alma mater... the Columbia School of Broadcasting... ; )
So was the Colombian coffee purchased in Colombia and brewed in Pittsburgh better than the Colombian coffee purchased and brewed in Pittsburgh?
yep : )
The best cup I've ever had was a particular Central African, that is no longer available.
Cupping samples out to various people invoked the uniform response;
Price does not in all ways denote both most exclusive and incomparable, finest quality.
But I'm sure the Wallenford folks appreciate your input.
I'd read somewhere in the not too distant past, that they began "bagging" it...the last I saw any, it was in a small wooden cask!