April 12, 2018
Organic Week — Returning to our roots
We're proud to announce that as part of NZ's first ever Organic Week, we've been nominated for NZ's Favourite Organic Brand Award. Kōkako has been committed to organics since day one so we thought we'd share a little about why it's so important to us.
Way back in 2001 when Christian and Helen, the founders of Kōkako, decided to start a business roasting solely organic coffee a lot of people didn't 'get it' but they weren't discouraged, the two stood firm in their values and slowly but surely the people followed. In 2007 Mike Murphy, our current Managing Director, took over the business and decided that third-party accreditation, with minimum standards and regular audits, would give New Zealanders absolute confidence in what we do. Here we are, 17 years on, with 9 years of Biogro certification backing us.
But why organic? At Kōkako we've always believed that the products we consume should be natural, good for us, and promote and protect the integrity of the environment in which they are grown. All our products are certified by Biogro New Zealand, a third–party verification with both ethical and environmental standards. Their verification means not only do our team in New Zealand work in a safe, chemical-free environment, the coffee growers at origin do too.
The organic farmers of Papua New Guinea. Photographed picking coffee cherries by Josh Griggs on our last trip in May.
When you spot a BioGro logo you can guarantee that that product is made without genetic modification and synthetic pesticides. It supports a holistic style of farming where the health of the soil and environment is prioritised, including the surrounding flora and fauna. To maintain our Biogro organic certification status, we reapply for certification and audited annually.
The farmers at our Origins focus on the long-term health of their land, waterways and soil rather than the short term gain, and as farmers often feed their families from the same plots of land so soil and crop health is of equal importance to them. In many cases, in remote coffee growing villages the farmers use ancient techniques passed down from generation to generation to control pests and disease. They are able to utilise the cherry skin by-product from coffee production, known as pulp (seen below) - this is salvaged and returned to the soil as an organic fertiliser. The farmers from COMSA, a cooperative in Honduras where our La Casita Single Origin coffee is sourced, bury coconut husks around their coffee trees for times of drought, the husks hold water and slowly release it to the tree's roots as needed.
Fabio Claros, the farmer from La Casita, says 'although organic production is not easy, it's not expensive either. I'm very happy that people understand that great coffee is the consequence of our effort and our good farming practices - this makes us successful producers. All our products and processes are organic. We make our own organic fertilisers which enrich the soil. Our coffee is the result of the whole ecosystem living in harmony: the birds, the bees, the forest, water, soil... everything contributes our coffee and it's unique taste.'
Coffee pulp, a by-product of coffee processing. Photography by Josh Griggs on our last trip to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Coconut husks used by COMSA, Honduras. Photo by Brian Olson.
Our team at Kōkako are also major supporters of organic farming practices because they also support the health of the local wildlife at Origin. Most coffee growing nations are centralised along the tropics, this area that is home to some of the world’s most biodiverse and complex ecosystems. The use of synthetic pesticides on crops puts the survival of native wildlife at risk.
Unfortunately, unlike Europe, Japan, USA and Canada, there are still no laws protecting the word 'organic' in New Zealand, so anyone can claim that their produce or product is organic even if it's not. For that reason, we continue to value independent organic certification to assure our customers that our product is what we say it is, genuinely organic.
If you think we're deserving of the nomination you can vote for us as NZ's Favourite Organic Brand Award here. And if you do, thank you!
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