Do You Know What’s in Your Coffee? 8 Facts from Camano Island Coffee Roasters

When one is on Camano Island in Washington, one must pay a visit to Camano Island Coffee Roasters. I’ve been a coffee lover since I was 12 years old. Although I cringe a little that I began getting caffeinated at that young of an age, it has been a roller coaster of a relationship for me and my beloved cup of Joe.

For the past year, I have been on and off drinking coffee. As of late, it doesn’t always agree with me. On those days I would kill for a cup? I usually give in. I test the (brewed) waters. Lucky for me, I have a new favorite coffee to turn to thanks to Camano Island Coffee Roasters and their unstoppable founder, Jeff Ericson.

During my hour-long tour of Ericson’s roasting company, I was fascinated. I learned more than I ever dreamed I could about coffee and its complexity. I left wondering if maybe it’s not always the coffee that leaves me unwell, but ALL of the factors that come with growing it.

These are the top 8 facts I took away from visiting Camano Island Coffee Roasters. If you’re a fellow java lover, I truly hope you will keep these tidbits in mind next time you reach for that latte or second cup. Let’s all feel confident when we get our caffeine on!

Fair Trade vs Fairly Traded

“Did you pay a fair price for coffee?” Jeff asks, “Pick fairly traded over fair trade. At Camano Island Coffee Roasters, we pay three times more than fair trade coffee suppliers.” While both the Fair Trade Certificate and Fairly Traded programs’ goals are to end the poverty in coffee-growing territories, fairly traded strives to take it a step further. Think of it as a much higher wage for coffee growers. Most grocery stores and chain favorites offer a couple of Fair Trade coffee’s at best, out of their dozens of roasts that do not fall under either certification.

Drink Fresh Coffee

“There is no good til date for coffee!” exclaims Jeff. “Coffee is a bakery item. If you go to the grocery store, the bag says coffee is good for two years. Every coffee company puts its ‘Best by’ date on the bottom. Coffee is technically stale at 30 days. You don’t make a doughnut then put ‘Good for two years. You just say what day you baked them and hope you get them out of there in a few days.”

Instead, look for what day the coffee was roasted printed on the bag. You really should be buying coffee to consume within the week it was roasted.

Jeff Ericson in action
Behind the scenes where the magic happens

Only Drink Arabica Beans

“It has to be Arabica coffee,” Jeff says firmly like he is sharing the secrets of the world with us. “For those of you who have read coffee is bad for you. That’s such baloney. Coffee is a very big world. Arabica coffee is incredibly good for you. Robusta is the killer” he confesses, “Robusta is chock full of caffeine. Arabica is not. Robusta is a weed, a cheap hybrid. It can drastically cut your coffee cost. You can buy it with your cardboard wine” he sneers.

Only Buy Shade-Grown

This could have been the biggest eye-opener for me during our tour of Camano Coffee Roasters. I’ve been making such an effort to purchase organic coffee. Only now to discover, most coffees’, even the fair-trade and organics’, are grown in the sun. “If coffee’s not grown in the shade, the sunlight grows the beans faster. The sun-hitting coffee makes it hyper-caffeinated, hyper acidic. It’s coffee on steroids.” Which led to the next revelation. One that I’m still thinking about and has helped me stick to my goal of only drinking the best-sourced java.

Coffee is Loaded with Outlawed Pesticides

Remember how sun-grown coffee is “hyper acidic”? Well, on top of that, most coffee is loaded with horrific pesticides and chemicals we would never want to ingest. Not only does cancer thrive on an acidic diet, but conventional coffee is grown with the use of pesticides like DDT. DDT is still the #1 chemical used within the coffee industry. Outlawed in America since 1950, DDT is highly cancer-causing. With coffee considered one of the most natural absorbent materials on earth, this is huge.

And, it gets worse. If a conventional coffee crop decides to take the plunge to organic, it will take a whopping 7 years for the soil to be rid of DDT. Imagine what this means for our bodies.

While there are 220 chemical compounds in wine, you’ll find about 800 in coffee.

“If you don’t buy Chinese apples at the store,” explains Jeff, “but you’ll buy regular coffee, no different. You have no idea what is put on it.”

It’s Not the Coffee Giving You Jitters

Did you know most of the major coffee companies burn their coffee beans? I’ve heard this and was unsure why you would do that. “They’re buying inferior coffee,” Jeff told me, “and burning the beans makes it so you cannot tell nor detect how old the coffee is. Coffee won’t taste old if it’s burnt.”

“And, I hurt to burst your bubble, people” Jeff announces, “but the jitters are not from the coffee. There’s more caffeine in a chocolate bar than coffee. The jitters come from the burnt beans and ash.”

While I have my own thoughts on this one (I’ve been drinking Camano Coffee Roasters coffee from my trip. I still feel that caffeine buzz but admit I’ve had much worse), it’s yet another reason I have become extra cautious of my cup of Joe.

It smelled so good among all these beans!
Camano Commons is where all of the island action goes down.

Don’t Drink Decaf

Who would have thought that switching to decaf is doing much worse to your health than caffeinated coffee? It’s true. The decaffeinating process for coffee is rather barbaric.

Decaf’s #1 ingredient is methylene chloride, which is also in paint thinner and has been shown to give lab rats cancer. To get the caffeine out of coffee, the beans are soaked in methylene chloride. Jeff is adamant that people get over themselves and purchasing certain foods for their novelty. “Sometimes we need to get over buzz words. These buzz words do us way more harm.”

“That’s why I’m into full European butter, great grains. I’m into good food, but good food that’s also healthy for me.”

Never Leave Your Coffee in the Fridge

“Do you want it to taste like onions?” asks Jeff. “Again, coffee is super absorbent. It will take on what’s in your fridge.” This makes total sense. I went through a short phase I thought I should refrigerate my ground coffee (because I was buying pricier coffee). Verdict? It ended up tasting awful. Not the aroma I had first smelled when I paid 13.99 a pound.

Camano Island Coffee Roasters

In addition to the roasting factory at Camano Commons Plaza, Ericson, and his family also oversee a fantastic coffee house, bakery, boutique, and ice cream parlor. Launched last month is their newest addition to their Camano empire: a fudge shop! Being the brainchild of Jeff, I can guarantee that this fudge will be made with only the finest ingredients. And lots of European butter.

Besides being an encyclopedia of coffee knowledge, Ericson’s story and journey to becoming the powerhouse of coffee roasting is a beautiful read. Learn more about Jeff and the Camano Island Coffee Roasters HERE.

(*Disclosure: I was apart of a media tour on behalf of this article. All opinions are my own.)