The Daily Scoop Answers: What Is Organic Coffee?

Cafe Altura Organic Coffee

Ever wonder just what is organic coffee anyway? Here’s the scoop.

What’s in That Cup?

In short, organic coffee comes is coffee grown without pesticides. But to really understand what makes some coffee organic, it’s important to first note what makes non-organic coffee, well, non-organic. Most of the chemical pesticides used in coffee production are used to ward off common pests and diseases from crops.

The good news for coffee drinkers is that the roasting process dilutes or eliminates most of the harmful effects of these chemicals. However, that doesn’t take the risk away from the farmers who are exposed directly to these harsh chemicals – but more about that later.

Here are just a few of the worst chemicals that are used in the coffee-growing world:

  • Methyl parathion: The most toxic pesticide of all, methyl parathion is banned in many countries and is highly toxic to humans, birds, fish, and mammals. Despite being banned in many countries, it is still highly (mis)used.
  • Endosulfan: Used to ward off the coffee cherry borer, Endosulfan is toxic to most animals and takes years to break down in soil. It attacks the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and reproductive organs.
  • Chlorpyrifos: Used against common coffee pests, Chlorpyrifos has been banned in the U.S. for household use because it has caused human death and birth defects. Needless to say, it’s quite detrimental to delicate ecosystems.

The Good News

There are ways to combat pests without using harsh chemicals, and if fact, many coffee growers use them. That’s where organic comes in. Organic coffee is coffee grown without the use of synthetic substances such as most pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. If coffee is labeled “organic,” at least 95 percent of the beans must have been grown under organic conditions. Most organic coffee farms are small and farmer owned—which means smaller crops and easier management of pests.

Many organic coffee growers keep pests and diseases away by using natural fertilizers such as poultry manure and bocashy, a mix of coffee plant pulp, manure, molasses, leavening, and other seemingly random ingredients. Another common tactic for keeping pests away is the use of the parasitic wasp, a beneficial insect that eats the larvae of coffee-plant-eating pests.

What to Look For in the Grocery Aisle

When buying organic coffee, look for the USDA Organic seal, which will certify that the coffee contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients and has been certified as organic by a certification agency accredited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To get you started, here are a few of our favorite organic coffee beans:

A good cup of joe that’s also good for the growers and the environment—count us in!

You *Can* Take It With You: Tracking Down the Dream Camping Coffee Maker

Coleman Portable Propane Coffeemaker

There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee…wafting into your tent. And why shouldn’t you have a good cup of joe even in the middle of nowhere? While you can always go thrifty with the makeshift beans-in-a-paper-filter-over-your-cup method, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite Coleman portable coffee makers for the more gourmet campers’ taste.

Coleman 9-Cup Aluminum Coffee Pot ($17): This lightweight (and light on your wallet) percolator will get your day started on the right foot fast. Weighing in at less than one pound, it’s all about leaving the heavier drip coffee makers at home while still achieving a quality brew. Its durability and resistance to rust make it a perfect bet for the great outdoors, or, if you’re just a fan of a good old-fashioned percolator, at home. It’s easy to use, too—you’ll just add ground beans and water, place it over a camping stove or a campfire, then watch the magic happen from the convenient glass knob on the top. Watch the temperature though—if the water gets too hot you’ll end up with beans in your coffee. Safety note: the fact that this coffeepot is aluminum means it’s wise to use a towel or pot-holder when you pour, as the metal handle can get hot.

Coleman 5008C700T Camping Coffeemaker ($50): If your idea of roughing it doesn’t include percolated coffee, then try this drip coffeemaker made specifically for life on the campsite. Your campground neighbors will do a double take when they see this coffeemaker on your picnic table. While it weighs more than the aluminum coffee pot—a whopping 15 pounds—this coffeemaker is a lot more reminiscent of drip coffee you can make at home. A high powered camp stove is the way to go if you don’t want the process to take all day—with a 10,000 BTU propane camp stove, you’ll have fresh brewed coffee in just under 15 minutes. Another perk is the pause and serve feature, so if you just can’t wait, well, you don’t have to.

Coleman Portable Propane Coffeemaker with Stainless Steel Carafe ($79): Wanna be the coolest kid in the campground? Then this is the ultimate gadget to buy. Unlike the two above, this sleek machine comes with its own propane tank, so it won’t take up any room on your camp stove. This all-in-one coffeemaker will make a just-like-home pot of coffee in 15 minutes or less. And it has Coleman’s InstaStart technology, which means no need for matches (and no need to battle with the wind). A word to the wise: the carafe is not insulated, so just make sure you drink your coffee fast before it gets cold.

The bottom line is that no matter what your budget is, there’s no reason not to have good coffee in the great outdoors.

Have Your Pumpkin Coffee Cake Recipe and Eat It Too

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Need a little seasonal sustenance to go with your delectable pumpkin spice latte? We’ve got exactly what you’re looking for – a pumpkin coffee cake recipe that delivers. Culled together from a number of other online sources, then tweaked to perfection in the BOTM kitchen, this moist coffee cake is a must-try. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin purée

Streusel topping ingredients

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs. butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 10-inch pan with nonstick spray. Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in separate bowl until fluffy. Mix eggs and pumpkin puree into butter mixture. Gradually stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Spread in pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all streusel topping ingredients together until crumbly. Spread on coffee cake.
  3. Bake 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool at least 10 minutes, then slice into squares, and enjoy with a hot pumpkin spice latte!

Falling in Love With Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Pumpkin Spice Lattes – A Seasonal Favorite

Pumpkin lovers, rejoice: Fall has officialy fallen. Along with the changing leaves and cooler temps, autumn brings the beloved pumpkin spice to, well, everything. One of the best ways to celebrate this seasonal flavor? By lapping up a steaming cup of pumpkin spice coffee, of course.

But contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to spend $5 on every cup of it. You can make it right at home with one of the following options.

Nestle’s Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice Non-Dairy Creamer: While you might not normally be a fan of powdered creamer, we suggest you give this one a shot. It’s the number one easiest, cheapest way to score pumpkin-java goodness.

Green Mountain’s Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Coffee K-Cup: Another uber-convenient way to score pumpkin spice coffee, this seasonal offering delivers the creamy taste of cinnamon and nutmeg together.

Torani’s Pumpkin Pie Sauce: For something a little fancier, whip up your own pumpkin spice latte at home with this rich flavoring.