Organic Coffee Disadvantages

Coffee is good for you as it has many health benefits. And organic coffee is better. It keeps the health benefits of regular coffee, while removing as many as a hundred or more impurities from your regular cup of java. But, are there any organic coffee disadvantages? Here are our thoughts on the subject. There are, in fact, real and imagined organic coffee disadvantages.

Organic Coffee Disadvantages: Number One Is a Higher Price

Healthy organic coffee can easily be three times as expensive as regular coffee. And if you like shade grown organic coffee or single origin coffee the price can go higher still. The health advantages of organic coffee come from sustainable agriculture and the avoidance of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and other chemicals. Shade grown coffee and single origin coffee may taste better but they do not have any more health advantages than basic organic coffee.

Organic coffee disadvantages include $350 a pound gesha coffee from Panama.

Very Expensive Gesha Coffee

When you avoid using the chemicals you get a better coffee but less of it. Organic coffee farming is less productive than regular commercial coffee farming. And it requires more work too. All of the extra work and expense that goes into growing these products means the coffee farmer needs to charge more in order to make a living. And, as we noted in our article about organic coffee certification, every step along the supply chain must be organic as well.

Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport. Along the way procedures must be in place at every step to insure that there is no contamination of the healthy organic coffee produced in pristine soil with regular coffee produced on soil exposed to herbicides, pesticides, and organic fertilizers.

Thus every step from growing coffee all the way to final delivery of organic coffee to the buyer is more precise, more complicated, and more expensive than for regular coffee. And all of these folks need to get paid in order to make a living.

Organic Coffee Disadvantages: Number Two Is Fungal Contamination

The reason that farmers use fungicides and other chemicals is to treat infestations of their crops. The primary problem is coffee leaf rust known as la roya in Latin America. When coffee farmers do not avoid or successfully treat this infestation they lose their coffee crop. Forbes writes in this regard about a world without coffee because of leaf rust.


One of the organic coffee disadvantages is that organic crops are more susceptible to coffee leaf rust.

Coffee Leaf Rust


Coffee rust is a significant problem in almost every coffee growing region in the world, and in recent years, countries in Central and South America have been hit particularly hard.

Because of excellent foresight, Colombia has developed leaf rust resistant coffee strains that help combat this problem.

But, there are other organic coffee disadvantages related to infectious agents that get into the coffee.  If the farmer is not careful they could get passed on to you.

Ochratoxin is toxin that can grow on green coffee. It is produced by fungus. And that fungus is more likely to grow around the base of a coffee plant when too much organic matter is allowed to collect there. Unfortunately, organic coffee farmers use plant mulch instead of synthetic fertilizers. And, if they are not careful to till the plant matter into the soil it is a great place to grow mold, right at the base of the coffee plant.

Ochratoxin in Moldy Coffee

Ochratoxin is one of the organic coffee disadvantages if the organic coffee is not tended properly or stored correctly. For a scientific review of the problems caused by Ochratoxin take a look at an articles in the journal Toxins published in 2010. The high points of the article are that Ochratoxin can cause cancer and kidney problems in adults. And it can cause birth defects when pregnant women ingest this toxin.


One of the potential organic coffee disadvantages is a fungal infestation called Ochratoxin on green coffee beans.

Ochratoxin on Green Coffee Beans


Your job once you get your coffee is to store it in a cold and dry place to prevent mold growth. The job of the coffee farmer and those involved in storage and transport of organic coffee is likewise to keep it dry to avoid mold growth.

And, no, Ochratoxin is not removed when moldy coffee is roasted! That is why proper farming and storage are so important.

 Organic Coffee Disadvantages: Number Three Is It Is Not Organic Coffee

Organic is not only good for you but it is good for the environment. So, going organic with your morning cup of java is a great idea. But, make sure to check the organic coffee certification the container of coffee. Certification should mean the following:

The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land.

Good organic certifications include USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), UTZ, Smithsonian Bird Friendly, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance. However, they vary in terms of how much content is organic. The best and most reliable label is USDA. The Department of Agriculture has a strict definition of what constitutes organic and what their certification means. The Smithsonian Bird Friendly designation is probably the next best guarantee that the coffee was grown without use of chemicals. UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, and Fair Trade are good certifications. But they are as worried about child labor and profits for the farmer as they are about coffee being strictly organic.

Fake Organic Coffee Disadvantages

You may read on the internet about e coli, a germ that gets into chicken and other foods and can cause sickness. You may also read about this germ getting into coffee. That is simply not the case. And, if someone maliciously put the germ in with green coffee, the roasting would kill it anyway!

The take home lesson is that you need to check the label for organic coffee certification if you want organic. And USDA is the best and most reliable.

Leave a Reply