How Green Is That … Coffee?

Organic: The production system of certified organic coffee beans reduces the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers and builds biologically diverse agriculture. Third-party certification organizations verify practices.

Fair Trade: Fair trade focuses on labor and tradestandards to provide small-farmer cooperatives a guaranteed price above the conventional market. It’s not all organic, but it does require strict environmental stewardship such as prohibiting the use of genetically modified organisms and the most hazardous pesticides.

Bird Friendly: All bird-friendly coffee must also be certified organic, and is only given to operators who meet the certification requirements of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. The coffee must be shade-grown, and no synthetic chemicals can be used.

Prefer decaf?: Conventional coffees are typically decaffeinated using carcinogenic solvents, such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. Organic coffee must be decaffeinated using a process that does not harm the organic integrity of the beans. One of the most common processes, the Swiss Water process, simply uses water to decaffeinate the coffee beans.