organic coffee cupFrom monocultures to deforestation and unfair wages for laborers, it is hardly surprising that so many commercial coffee brands now leave an unpleasant taste among an increasingly knowledgeable consumer market.

You might even be surprised by knowledgeable diners who now seem to be requesting, more than ever, to know the origins of the coffee your restaurant is serving. Some are merely interested in knowing that their coffee is grown organically, and is free from the amount of pesticides and herbicides that commercially grown coffee is so infamous for.

However, an increasing trend among coffee connoisseurs is the interest in coffee grown sustainably and fairly traded, as well. This is something you should be a bit studied up on, in order to satisfy these customers. There are a few things that you should minimally know.

While the number of traditional green coffee plantations continues to grow all the time, there are still many suppliers who rely on farming techniques like ‘sun growing’ for their regular coffee bean harvests. The problem is that these techniques create monoculture plantations which are extremely bad for the environment.

organic coffee plantationThey destabilize the character of arable landscapes, depend on huge amounts of pesticide and fertilizer for productive crops, and they contribute to the felling of millions of hectares of virgin rain forest every year. Thus, the question that many coffee drinkers are now asking themselves is, can my morning latte or lunchtime cappuccino possibly be worth such destruction?

Well, the good news is that we do not have to make a choice between luxury and environmental health – these two things are not exclusive. If you want coffee that your customers can enjoy, while making certain that you support the maintenance of green farms and suppliers, all you have to do is to try out some organic or Fair Trade coffee brands. To get you started, we’ve included some recommendations below.

CafeDirect Machu Picchu Organic

CafeDirect Machu Picchu Organic coffee is rich in silky flavors, with a distinct tang of dark chocolate. The coffee beans used to make it are produced right at the center of the Andes, so it is difficult to beat them for sheer exoticism. They are grown and nurtured by a Peruvian cooperative organization which now numbers more than 8,000 small scale bean coffee bean growers. You can order a sample online here:

Percol Fairtrade Organic African Ethiopia

This popular Fairtrade blend is a great choice because, unlike a lot of the other prized organic brands, you do not have to scrabble around in tiny health food stores or alternative supermarkets to find it. It is sold in most major supermarkets, alongside the other Fairtrade coffee blends, and offers a hearty flavor and a pleasing range of fairly juicy and fruity under notes. For every pack of Percol Fairtrade coffee sold, the Percol charity donates six pence to a development or education project in Africa. It can also be purchased online:

Java Planet Black Magic Organic Blend

This wonderfully aromatic medium dark roast blend, from US based organic coffee supplier Java Planet, is made with pesticide free coffee beans grown in Indonesia and South and Central America. It has a full bodied taste and a magnificently rich aroma, so if you like your coffee to have the power to perk up your nose in the morning, choose the Black Magic blend. The Java Planet brand is one of the fastest growing organic coffee lines in the US, so snap up your cup before everybody else does, right here:

Grumpy Mule Organic Sumatra Gayo Highlands

The Grumpy Mule line has become very popular over the last few years and this Organic Sumatra Gayo Highlands blend is one of its most loved. The coffee beans that it contains are grown in the highlands of northern Sumatra by an organic farming cooperative. The organization now has more than 6,000 affiliated growers, whom it offers sustained support with local construction projects. The blend should please coffee lovers who like their drink to have a strong personality, but be mellow enough to complement a chilled out weekend crossword or two. You can find it on Amazon.

Equal Exchange Mount Elgon Gumutindo Blend

The Equal Exchange brand was actually first created all the way back in 1979, by three volunteers who started a company in tandem with a London based NGO. The volunteers decided to start their own coffee line after being exposed to the devastating effect of budget bean prices on local farmers in Africa and beyond. This Mount Elgon blend has an ever so slightly smoky taste behind its bold and rich primary flavors, so it is ideal for sipping with buns, cakes, scones, or other sweet treats. Purchase a bag of beans right here: