Is Buying Organic Coffee Worth the Money?

buying organic coffee


Are you a diehard coffee drinker? 


Years ago, doctors told patients to avoid coffee because it increased the risk of health problems, including heart attacks, and cancer of the pancreas. These days, your doctor is more likely to urge you to drink coffee, thanks to the potential health benefits a steaming cup of java (minus all the sugar) offers.


Preliminarily, it looks like coffee lovers may enjoy a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, melanoma, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and gallstones. 


Most exciting of all is a study showing that sipping three to four cups of coffee daily was linked with a 15% lower risk of all-cause mortality.


Keep in mind these are associations and don’t necessarily show cause and effect – but the evidence is growing that coffee drinking is a healthy habit. Yes, it’s a good time to own Starbuck’s stock.


Yet, you want to get the health benefits of coffee and get the “good stuff” in coffee in its purest form without the “extras” you don’t want – like pesticides.  


Most natural food markets and many grocery stores now offer organic coffee – ground or unground. Is it worth spending extra money to get organic coffee?


FAST FACT: Coffee is the second most heavily traded commodity in the world. Petroleum is first. 


We struggled with this issue ourselves. Most people think of organic items as being healthier since they’re grown or raised without pesticides, and if you like the reassurance that the coffee you’re drinking came from a pesticide-free environment, by all means buy it.


Is buying organic coffee worth it? Your money might be better spent buying organic fruits and vegetables, especially those on the “dirty dozen” list than investing in organic coffee.


Non-organic coffee may not be 100% free of impurities, but because of the roasting process coffee beans undergo, the conventional coffee you’re sipping likely contains only small amounts of pesticides, if any, by the time it’s packaged and sent to the supermarket.


How Coffee is Roasted


Coffee beans are green just after they’re harvested. The green coffee beans must be roasted to a high temperature of between 375 and 450 degrees F. to turn them into the coffee beans you grind and make into coffee. Green coffee beans wouldn’t be very tasty, right?


During the roasting process, the bean splits apart and reveals the tantalizing aroma of the bean itself. Green coffee beans can be roasted to varying degrees, leading to light, medium, or dark roast coffee.


FAST FACT: A coffee plant can live up to 200 years. 


What does this have to do with pesticides? Even if the coffee was heavily sprayed with pesticides, research shows the vast majority of pesticides are broken down by the high heat the beans are exposed to during roasting.


In one study, researchers saturated green coffee beans with three different pesticides and measured the amount remaining after roasting the coffee.


The results? One of the pesticides was completely destroyed by the roasting process, more than 90% of the second one was destroyed, while less than 1% of the third pesticide remained after roasting.

Kristie Leong M.D.

Dr. Kristie Leong and Dr. Apollo Leong are physicians helping you to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing nutrition and fitness tips and keeping you abreast of the latest health news.

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