Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 39
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Bravo-Monroy, L. Potts, S.G. and Tzanopoulos, J. 2016. Drivers influencing farmer decisions for adopting organic or conventional coffee management practices. Food Policy, Vol. 58, p. 49.

    Ibanez, Marcela and Blackman, Allen 2016. Is Eco-Certification a Win–Win for Developing Country Agriculture? Organic Coffee Certification in Colombia. World Development, Vol. 82, p. 14.

    Jurjonas, Matthew Crossman, Katie Solomon, Jennifer and Baez, Walter Lopez 2016. Potential Links Between Certified Organic Coffee and Deforestation in a Protected Area in Chiapas, Mexico. World Development, Vol. 78, p. 13.

    van Rijsbergen, Bart Elbers, Willem Ruben, Ruerd and Njuguna, Samuel N. 2016. The Ambivalent Impact of Coffee Certification on Farmers’ Welfare: A Matched Panel Approach for Cooperatives in Central Kenya. World Development, Vol. 77, p. 277.

    von Geibler, Justus Cordaro, Francesco Kennedy, Katharina Lettenmeier, Michael and Roche, Bruno 2016. Integrating resource efficiency in business strategies: a mixed-method approach for environmental life cycle assessment in the single-serve coffee value chain. Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 115, p. 62.

    Han, Soojeong Kim, Keum-Jumg and Lee, Kyung-Hee 2015. Impact of Choice Motives on Consumer Attitudes and Purchase Intentions regarding Organic Coffee - Study Performed at Organic Coffee Shops in and around Seoul -    . Journal of the East Asian Society of Dietary Life, Vol. 25, Issue. 5, p. 911.

    Lee, Kyung Hee Bonn, Mark A. and Cho, Meehee 2015. Consumer motives for purchasing organic coffee. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 27, Issue. 6, p. 1157.

    Ruben, Ruerd and Hoebink, Paul 2015. Coffee certification in East Africa: impact on farms, families and cooperatives.

    Sadasivuni, Sujatha Bhat, Ravi and Pallem, Chowdappa 2015. Recycling potential of organic wastes of arecanut and cocoa in India: a short review. Environmental Technology Reviews, Vol. 4, Issue. 1, p. 91.

    van der Vossen, Herbert Bertrand, Benoît and Charrier, André 2015. Next generation variety development for sustainable production of arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.): a review. Euphytica, Vol. 204, Issue. 2, p. 243.

    Wang, N. Jassogne, L. van Asten, P.J.A. Mukasa, D. Wanyama, I. Kagezi, G. and Giller, K.E. 2015. Evaluating coffee yield gaps and important biotic, abiotic, and management factors limiting coffee production in Uganda. European Journal of Agronomy, Vol. 63, p. 1.

    Chemura, Abel 2014. The growth response of coffee (Coffea arabica L) plants to organic manure, inorganic fertilizers and integrated soil fertility management under different irrigation water supply levels. International Journal of Recycling of Organic Waste in Agriculture, Vol. 3, Issue. 2,

    Donovan, Jason and Poole, Nigel 2014. Changing asset endowments and smallholder participation in higher value markets: Evidence from certified coffee producers in Nicaragua. Food Policy, Vol. 44, p. 1.

    Eakin, Hallie Tucker, Catherine M. Castellanos, Edwin Diaz-Porras, Rafael Barrera, Juan F. and Morales, Helda 2014. Adaptation in a multi-stressor environment: perceptions and responses to climatic and economic risks by coffee growers in Mesoamerica. Environment, Development and Sustainability, Vol. 16, Issue. 1, p. 123.

    Garcia-Yi, Jaqueline 2014. Organic coffee certification in Peru as an alternative development-oriented drug control policy. International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 13, Issue. 1, p. 72.

    Nelson, Valerie Donovan, Jason and Poole, Nigel 2014. Partnerships in Fairtrade coffee: a close-up look at how buyers and NGOs build supply capacity in Nicaragua. Food Chain, Vol. 4, Issue. 1, p. 34.

    Valkila, Joni 2014. Do Fair Trade Pricing Policies Reduce Inequalities in Coffee Production and Trade?. Development Policy Review, Vol. 32, Issue. 4, p. 475.

    Bennett, Mica and Franzel, Steven 2013. Can organic and resource-conserving agriculture improve livelihoods? A synthesis. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 11, Issue. 3, p. 193.

    Kleemann, Linda and Abdulai, Awudu 2013. Organic certification, agro-ecological practices and return on investment: Evidence from pineapple producers in Ghana. Ecological Economics, Vol. 93, p. 330.

    Muleta, Diriba Assefa, Fassil Börjesson, Elisabet and Granhall, Ulf 2013. Phosphate-solubilising rhizobacteria associated with Coffea arabica L. in natural coffee forests of southwestern Ethiopia. Journal of the Saudi Society of Agricultural Sciences, Vol. 12, Issue. 1, p. 73.



  • H. A. M. VAN DER VOSSEN (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 30 September 2005

Organic coffee is one of several types of speciality coffees selling at a premium over mainstream coffees because of distinct origin and flavour, environment-friendly production or socio-economic concerns for the smallholder coffee growers. The demand for organic coffee in Western Europe, North America and Japan exceeds the present supply, which is still small (<1% of annual world production). More than 85% of organic coffees come from Latin America and practically all is (washed) arabica coffee. The production of certified organic coffee follows the principles of organic farming developed in Europe and the United States out of concern for the perceived negative effects of conventional high-input agriculture on health and environment. It claims superior ecological sustainability in combination with sound economic viability. A rather complex and expensive system of certification has to be passed before such coffees can be sold as truly organic. Growers adhering to the strict rules of organic coffee production may to some extent share the concern of the health- and environment-conscious consumers, but they are motivated primarily by the economic benefits from the premium received for certified organic coffee. Nevertheless, there appears to be considerable injustice between the extreme preconditions demanded for ‘organics’ by the largely urban consumer of the industrialized world and the modest rewards received by the organic coffee growers for their strenuous efforts. From an agronomic point of view, there is also considerable ground for criticism on the principles of organic farming when applied to coffee. For instance, to sustain economically viable yield levels (1 t green coffee ha−1 year−1) large additional amounts of composted organic matter will have to come from external sources to meet nutrient requirements (especially N and K). Most smallholders will be unable to acquire such quantities and have to face declining yields. Organic farming does not necessarily reduce incidence of diseases and pests below economically harmful thresholds, while the humid conditions of heavily shaded coffee may actually stimulate the outbreak of others. These and other aspects peculiar to the preconditions of organic coffee production are addressed in this review. It is concluded that the concept of organic farming in its strict sense, when applied to coffee, is not sustainable and also not serving the interests of the producer and consumer as much as the proponents would like us to believe. On the other hand, agronomically and economically sustainable coffee production is feasible by applying best practices of crop production and post-harvest processing.

Corresponding author
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Experimental Agriculture
  • ISSN: 0014-4797
  • EISSN: 1469-4441
  • URL: /core/journals/experimental-agriculture
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *