Birds and organic coffeeOrganic coffee itself is produced under strict international standards which not only forbid the use of chemical inputs, but also require the use of complex techniques such as soil fertilization with composted organic resources, shade management for coffee trees, waste control during wet milling, and an overall meticulous recordkeeping.  The lack of chemical inputs (synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides) not only ensures that consumers will receive a chemical-free food, but it also avoids air, water, and soil pollution.  It eliminates the problem of chemical manufacturing and waste disposal, balances the local ecosystem, and prevents workers and others from being exposed to chemicals which can cause enormous health risks.  In order to be certified organic, the coffee trees must be grown on land free of prohibited substances for at least three years prior to harvest. Coffee grown on land in transition to organic (during the first three years after switching from conventional farming) cannot be labeled as organic.

San Jose La Laguna Estate composts the coffee pulp it collects after milling the coffee beans and uses it as fertilizer.  Composting and the lack of chemicals helps increase the content of organic matter in the soil, makes it looser and more porous, prevents its acidification, promotes the reproduction of earthworms which transform the soil into healthy rich humus, increases root symbioses which allow better absorption of nutrients by the coffee trees, and increases the number of different microbial species and microbial activity in the soil.

Organic plantations promote a greater variety of plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms which allow the local environment to balance itself.  This diversification can help lower the threat of pests that normally attack coffee trees and at the same time accommodate predators which help control these plagues.

The coffee in San Jose La Laguna Estate is not a monocrop, but a plantation that is combined with shade trees, banana trees, and a wide variety of other species of plants.  This diverse ecosystem helps conserve and diversify the local wildlife and provides shelter to migratory birds as well.  Shade trees are necessary to give the coffee trees the right amount of sunlight and to keep the local microclimate more or less constant especially during severe climate or weather changes.  The trees also help preserve soil moisture and aid in controlling weed growth by covering the soil with large amounts of dead leaves which in turn convert into rich mulch.  Shade management in coffee plantations requires an enormous amount of work.  The canopy of the shade trees has to be trimmed and shaped at no less than eight feet from the coffee trees' tip, and must be able to deliver to the coffee trees the ideal amount of sunlight (about 50%) and ventilation that they require.  

Overall, coffee shade trees are not only important for the ecosystem, but also regulate and improve the quality of the coffee by keeping the coffee trees healthy and thus helping increase the bean size, its acidity, and sucrose (sugar) content which are of great importance for taste and aroma formation.

One of the most important aspects in organic coffee plantations is the recordkeeping that must be done throughout the whole operation.  This recordkeeping covers the agricultural aspect, processing, and warehousing and must be kept accurate and up-to-date on a daily basis. The records allow inspectors from official certifying entities to evaluate and corroborate the data with the work and good practices carried out from beginning to end.

It is important for consumers to understand that the truly organic coffee is the one which not only avoids agro-chemical inputs, but also incorporates renewable resources to the land, preserves biodiversity within the plantation, and avoids polluting the environment with waste residues.  San Jose La Laguna Estate is committed to providing consumers with a wholesome
chemical-free food, protecting the environment, and using organic techniques to preserve our ecosystem now and for future generations.