Organic coffee is coffee that has been grown according to organic farming standards and techniques, without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Many producers exclusively use the three main coffee certifications: shade-grown, organic, and Fair Trade. They do this in an effort to create a more environmentally and socially responsible product as well as to market it to more affluent socially responsible consumers.
The primary producer and exporter of organic coffee is the South American nation of Peru. Mexico and Ethiopia are also major producers of the coffee. According to the center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education in Costa Rica (CATIE), 75% of the world's organic coffee comes from Latin America.
In order to be sold as organic coffee in the U.S. it must gain organic certification and meet the following requirements:
- Grown on land without synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for 3 years.
- A sufficient buffer exists between the organic coffee and the closest traditional crop.
- Sustainable crop rotation plan to prevent erosion, the depletion of soil nutrients, and control for pests.