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Do agri-chemicals end up in our cups?
Sure Sure 20%[2 Votes]
Not enough to worry about Not enough to worry about 40%[4 Votes]
Dunno Dunno 40%[4 Votes]
Total Votes : 10
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Agri-chemicals in coffee beans?
Do agri-chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides make their way into a coffee bean and then into our cup?

I'm sure everyone has an opinion about this, so do I, and I'm a scientist. What I'm wanting to now is if there is any truth to this?

Here's my "haven't researched it" hope: My guess is there are chemicals used in at least some places. My hope is that processing reduces the impact to us to minimal. Chemicals would be sprayed on the trees, I suppose, contacting the leaves and the cherries. Cherries are picked and sent to processing. From what I understand the cherries are pulped, which would probably remove most of the chemical residue. But here's where my hope comes in. Remaining on the bean is the mucilage. The bean, contained in the mucilage membrane is "fermented" for a period of time on the concrete or in water. Finally the bean is removed from the mucilage and sent to us. Hopefully the two step processing removes enough of any chemicals to warrant a "not enough to worry about" response... and then there's the high temperature roasting, moderately high-temperature brewing after that.

Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
Well, if a coffee is "certified organic" then, in theory, it shouldn't have any chemicals used at any stage of growing or processing. Even the USDA allows some chemicals to be used in certified organic products, and not all countries or certification organizations follow the same regulations (or scrutinize as closely), so its not hard to image that a certain amount of chemicals probably ends up in all coffee. Now, is it enough to worry about? I really doubt it, if it was a problem someone would be making noise about it. Then again, does anyone regularly test coffee for synthetic chemicals?
If it's in on/in the plant, it's definitely in the cup. Not sure to what extent chemicals are transformed or destroyed during roasting process; nor would I know to what extent it matters. I certainly suspect there are other places I'm ingesting more toxins than my morning cup(s). I hope by buying from single owners and small co-ops, there is greater concern for their own health than on big agri-business farms. But the inverse could also be true.
-Marshall Hance
Asheville, NC
I don't know either, but I hope we will eventually be able to ask the growers and processors along the way.

For example, I just ordered some Bugisu from Chad S. on GCBC, which comes from 'Crop to Cup'. They have an online forum, so perhaps we could get some answers there:
Leland Goertz
With the typical coffee plantation receiving about 60 cents per pound and an Arabica plant only producing about 3 pounds a year, there is not much money remaining for chemicals. Most farms will use control chemicals only if it is absolutely necessary and only after all other avenues of control have been exhausted. Also, since coffee receives its varietal flavor from its environment, doing anything to disrupt that environment is bad. For the most part, this includes the use of chemicals, especially systemic types. If topical chemicals are used they are removed during the milling process.
John Despres
Leland steps up with a very nice response. I think this would apply to most of the coffee we buy around here.

However, I wonder if those producing coffee we don't drink use chemicals. After all, bulk sales by the tons is of greatest interest to them I think.

Great first post, Leland. Thanks.

Respect the bean.
John Despres
Fresh Roast 8, Gene Cafe, JYTT 1k, Quest M3, Mazzer Mini, Technivorm, various size presses and many more brewers.
As coffee producer I have my theory about it and at some point it might get some residues from the chemicals applied but not in enough quantity to be harmful to humans otherwise would be prohibited.
Different stages:
1- We fertilize the coffee plant right after the harvest, this way it will help the plant to survive, its formula is base on Magnesium
2- The second fertilization is when it blooms (February) we use a different formula in this case is base on nitrogenous, potassium, zinc, copper. This are the elements more use to help the small bean grow.
3- Then we use foliages, basically the same but they are less expensive.
When it comes to pesticides, basically no body uses it because they are too expensive, therefore we have less and less production every year and we are able to buy it, the ones we use are authorized by law, mostly recommended as green products.
We also applied herbicide (El glifosato (N-fosfonometil-glicina) worldwide accepted by the OMC (http://ec.europa....ate_en.pdf) the are systematic and does not causes damage to the environment and it is use as weed control, what we do not to damage the coffee plant, is; we cleaned a rounded by hand or with a machete, this way it does not receive any residue directly, otherwise it root my get serious damages.
Once Again, my apologies for my grammar, but I hope this helps.

Edit: activated URL - JD
Edited by John Despres on 10/18/2010 8:03 PM
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