Yes It’s true! We’ve received our organic certification from the Montana Department of Agriculture, and USDA. We are really excited about it, and it’s been many months of work. A huge thanks to Ella, without whom this project would have taken a lot longer than it did.
This seems like a great time to talk a little bit about a question that we are continuously asked, which is: “Where does black coffee stand when it comes to Organic and Fair Trade Coffees?” It’s a great question, and one that we’ve talked and thought a lot about. Here is the answer. We feel very strongly about both fair trade and organics, not only when it comes to coffee, but also in every element of life. That’s one of the reasons that we love living in Missoula so much. I moved here in 1997, and Jim had already been living here for several years at that point. I moved here from Boston (go red sox) and traveled around a bit before finally settling in Missoula, and never before had I ever lived in a community so committed to supporting local businesses, sustainable practices, and low impact living. When we started our business, we knew without question that we wanted to support sustainable coffee growers, and provide missoula with great tasting coffee, that they could feel good about purchasing.
We’ve been buying certain Organically grown coffees ever since we opened our doors, but because we as a business weren’t certified, we could not call any of our coffee “organic.” As soon as an organic coffee bean touched our roaster, it would no longer be organic. Now that we are certified we can actually label our coffee as Organic, which you will start to see soon. At this point, about 75% of our beans are Organic beans, and we’re starting to phase out almost all of our conventionally grown beans with time. Our plan is for 95% of our beans to be organic by summer.
Why don’t we say 100% of our beans? It’s for several reasons. First of all, we know as much as anyone that the process of becoming certified takes a lot of time, and costs a lot of money. There are a lot of coffee farms that are trying to get to the point of being certified, but don’t have the money. Without coffee roasters and importers support, those farms would never get there. We want to help those farms get where they want to be. Secondly, there are a lot of farmers out there who are practicing organic growing, and who are getting paid fair trade prices, but who don’t want to get certified, because perhaps they don’t feel like that certification represents them as well as say, becoming a part of a co-op, or creating direct trade relationships with coffee importers and roasters. Things are a lot more confusing now than they used to be when it comes to organics. Even in Montana, organic farmers are foregoing organic certification, and joining other groups. check out: www.homegrownmontana.org for an example of just such a group. Well organizations like homegrown are going to start popping up all over the world, which means that you can buy ethically, sustainably produced products, that are not necessarily certified organic.
Another thing we’re considering is that if we were to go 100% organic, some of our coffees that we’ve been able to keep relatively affordable, would go up in price. This is something that we’d love some feedback on. Would you rather see Black Coffee Roasting Co. go 100% organic, and have all of our prices increase, or have us continue to try to source certain beans that are not certified organic, but are (we feel) ethically grown and traded? Please give us a call, or stop in to tell us your opinion. For the time being, we will continue shifting towards organically grown coffees in lieu of non organic, and will continue to provide you with fantastic tasting coffee, that you can feel great about buying. Thanks for all of your support, and again, stop in monday-friday, 7:30 am – Noon.