The raw green coffee craze looks like it is here to stay. So we started asking ourselves, ‘Why don’t we do that too? We’ve got green coffee. We’ve got coffee processing equipment. We don’t have to roast it. We’ll save time. We’ll make more money. We’ve got a ready-made customer base because healthcare practitioners and individual clients regularly ask us to provide this for them. So why not do it?
We almost did it but before jumping in we did some research and what we found surprised us. It scared us too. You could call it the coffee industry’s dirty little secret. So in the end our research moved us NOT to jump on the green coffee band wagon and we’re sleeping better at night because of it. Here’s why . . .
Rest Easy, Organic is Organic
First, let’s preface everything by saying that you can be confident that Certified Organic crops are orgainc. First, a ton of red tape involved in becoming Certified Organic. Multiple strict EU laws govern the process every step of the way. And heavy cash penalties make rule breakers think twice. Beyond the red tape and penalties there are yearly or semi-yearly inspections. Even the importers of organic crops have to be certified to handle them.
For the purpose of this article ‘organic’ means no pesticies are sprayed on the coffee. ‘Non-organic’ means the coffee plants are sprayed with pesticides. One thing to keep in mind here is that many of the new breed of pesticides don’t lay on the plant, they are absorbed into the plant. So guess what you’re eating when you eat non-organic foods, even if you’ve washed them well? You guessed it, you’re eating pesticides. (read this for more information)
Here’s the scary part – how coffee is transported
Farmers take their raw green processed coffee to port for shipment. When things go right non-organic coffee goes into one shipping container and organic coffee goes into another. People use harsh chemicals to fumigate containers of non-organic coffee. All the four, six and eight legged critters trying to hitch a ride on the coffee don’t like this a bit. They leave or they die.
Workers fumigating containers with organic coffee do so with a non-toxic ozonation or carbon dioxide process. This works pretty well if the containers are air tight, but few are. This process is more expensive and requires a lot of maintenance of the fumigation equipment.
Usually everything is done right, but sometimes it isn’t. When things don’t go according to regulations organic raw green coffee gets sprayed down with the very toxic chemicals the non-organic coffee is treated with.
Think about it realistically and you’ll realize that a lot of things are not done according ‘to code’ in the far reaches of the world. Organic coffee often finds itself in a container with goods such as furniture treated with formaldehyde and other chemicals (think particle board). The furniture outgases these chemicals for the entire journey. Some of those chemicals can get end up on the coffee. Added to this, most every container has been fumigated with toxic pesticides. Often dock workers don’t clean the containers thoroughly after use leaving pesticide residue behind. This residue can be found in about 100% of container’s wooden floors and it transfers to most anything that is set on top of it.
Oh, one other thing. If you read the literature you’ll see that containers can get contaminated with mould. Mould spores float through the air, landing on everything in the container.
Beware the toxic chemical onslaught
Just how toxic are these chemicals? The Occupational Safety Hazard wiki page (www.oshwiki.eu) entitled Cargo Containers says that about 20% of import containers, including their freight (italics ours), contain critical concentrations of air pollutants. These are in particular volatile hydrocarbons and fumigants, for example phosphine, methyl bromide, hydrogen cyanide, phosphorous hydride, sulfuryl difflouride, etc. The web page also informs us that the goods in the containers can be emitting toluene/xylene and alipathic hydrocarbons, and much, much more. All chemicals you don’t want to tangle with.
These chemicals are so toxic that hundreds of individuals over the years have died from exposure to them. Active policing of deadly container atmospheres coupled with stricter handling regulations and greater safety awareness is solving this problem. Yet, even though workers are benefitting from safer working conditions, the containers still carry these toxins.* Everyone who comes into contact with this cargo — all of us — needs to be careful.
The Good News
Raw green coffee beans have a skin on them much like a peanut. This skin is the place any opportunistic chemicals can alight. Harsh chemicals that have been passed onto the bean are ground up right along with the coffee during processing. The bean and its skin are ground-up together and any foreign chemicals go right along with it.
But when you roast coffee the skin heats up and unwraps itself from around the bean. The roasting process burns up this ‘chaff’ and blows it out the exhaust. And with Robusta coffee verses Arabica coffee (RobustaHealth only uses Robusta coffee) – the two main coffee cultivars – the skin on the Robusta bean is much, much thicker and heartier than the skin on Arabica beans. Thus Robusta beans are much harder to penetrate by outside sources.
Does this roasting process remove 100% of toxic chemicals that might come into contact with the coffee on its long journey from the plantation to your home? That’s hard to say. On one sample the answer may be yes, and on another the answer is no. Suffice it to say though that with Robusta coffee’s naturally dense outer skin, that comes off and burns up or blows away during the roasting process, you are much safer than with raw green coffee. So roasting the coffee is essential in removing all the contaminates possible.
Are You Playing Russian Roulette With A Raw Green Coffee Detox?
Really then, using raw green coffee for detoxing can be like playing Russian Roulette.
- The coffee could have become chemically contaminated during the fumigation process
- It could have become contaminated by the outgassing of toxic chemicals from other goods riding in the container
- Contamination of the coffee could occur because of lax cleaning procedures of the container
- It could be contaminated sitting on the chemically treated wooden floor of the container which has been absorbing additional harmful chemicals with every fumigation
- And maybe it becomes contaminated with mould spores coming from something else in the container
With Russian Roulette there is usually only one bullet in the chamber. As you can see from the foregoing, this gun is just about loaded.
We’d all love it if ‘green’ and ‘organic’ really meant green and organic. Sadly they always don’t. So be a smart, informed consumer. Think twice before introducing what could be chemically laden raw green coffee — even if organic — into your body.
*For further reading on the toxic effects of these fumigation chemicals see the article Health risks in international container and bulk cargo transport due to volatile toxic compounds at the U.S. National Institute of Health website (click here). Also Unseen Dangers in Freight Containers (click here). And here’s a short video for you, The Fumigation of Green Coffee, less than 2-1/2 minutes (click here). Also read our article Can Detoxing with Green Coffee Upset Your Methylation Process? — and why you should care (click here).