Are you willing to pay extra for a cup of coffee that is organic? Then you might as well go with the best organic coffee brands. So, first of all, what do high quality organic coffees have in common? And what makes one organic coffee different from another? Are there other factors besides coffee brand that you should pay attention to?
It is not a coincidence that the good coffee in the world is grown in the mountains. Nor is it just luck that coffee regions have or have had active volcanoes with rich volcanic soil. The best organic coffee brands come from these regions where it is also cloudy and where it rains a lot.
Coffee grown at higher altitudes where it is cooler grows more slowly and this results in more taste.
Volcanic Ash Soils
The University of Hawaii at Manoa writes about volcanic ash soils which are called andisols.
Mineralogy: Volcanic soils largely consist of non-crystalline (amorphous) minerals, such as allophone and imogolite. These minerals form strong bonds with organic matter. As a result, organic matter generally accumulates in the surface horizon. In addition to organic matter, volcanic soils may also contain high amounts of volcanic glass material with the possibility of amorphous iron and aluminum minerals.
Physical Traits: Andisols are usually light and fluffy and are easily tilled. Like a sponge, these soils also hold a lot of water.
Fertility: When not highly weathered, volcanic soils are typically very fertile soils.
The short version is that volcanic soils are highly fertile, easy to cultivate, hold water well, and tend to retain other organic nutrients near the surface where plants can use them.
Cloudy with rain
Organic coffee is not irrigated nor does it receive synthetic fertilizers. Organic coffee nevertheless needs water. And it does best if the water supply is constant without periods of drought.
The best organic coffee brands are therefore grown where there is enough rain and where the cloud cover prevents the soil and plants from drying out. The fact that volcanic soil retains water very well is also a plus.
The Coffee Growing Culture
Way back in 2011 we wrote about organic Kona coffee.
Organic Kona coffee is grown on mountainous slopes on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kona coffee benefits from mild weather and moist growing conditions as well as the volcanic soil of the Hawaiian Islands.
Although Hawaiian coffee was first grown on large plantations a crash in the worldwide coffee market in 1899 led owners to lease or sell land to their workers. This started a tradition of family operated coffee farms of five to twelve acres. The fact that families continue to grow on the same land has led to the tradition of sustainable coffee growing that is the hallmark of growing healthy organic coffee. Top grades Kona coffee are Kona Extra Fancy, Kona Fancy, Kona Number 1, Kona Select, and Kona Prime.
The best organic coffee brands come from long term coffee growing cultures. For another example, Arabica coffee from Colombia has been grown by families in the “Cafetero” of Colombia in South America for generations.
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