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Shade Grown Coffee - Better for You Better for the Planet

By Bryan Feil November 08, 2018

Why It’s Better to Choose Shade-Grown Coffee

For most of us, coffee is part of what initiates us into the day when we wake up. Have you ever stopped and thought about how your magical brew is grown? What if I told you how it's grown threatens the habitats of birds. What if you could fix this without doing anything, but sipping! 

Traditionally, in most parts of the world coffee was grown under multi-layered forest canopies. However, with advances in farming methods and increased human demand for coffee, plantation coffee became a thing.

Today, much of the coffee we consume is grown under direct sunlight in large plantations. As consumers become more conscious and picky about what they buy, many are opting for organic shade-grown coffee.

Environmentalists are now advocating for a return to the old ways. Even as we get wooed to shade-grown coffee, what does it have to offer?


  1. Better-tasting coffee

Sunlight-grown coffee produces more beans. However, the coffee beans ripen faster and the taste is underdeveloped. Under shade, the beans ripen slowly to perfection.

And the reason is simple- shade equals home. In the shade, the beans' natural sugars increase over time this enhance the taste. 

Maybe it's not the coffee maker that's been failing you, but the choice of coffee. Take a look at some of the best siphon coffee makers here at Coffee Dorks.


  1. Healthier Option

Multilayered canopies are the natural habitat of most varieties of coffee. Coffee trees are more adapted there and can be grown organically. It will require little to no pesticides, herbicide and inorganic fertilizers.

In the canopies, birds provide a shield to the plants by consuming the pests. The leaves dropping from the trees not only decay to provide manure but also act as mulch, conserving water for the coffee plants. The interdependence of the trees, birds, and coffee trees is just amazing.


(Below is Ned from one of our beloved villages Som Poi - this is his coffee farm that sits beneath a shade canopy with fallen trees naturally decomposing!)

  1. Protecting Forests.


By taking shade-grown coffee you will be helping save forests in coffee growing countries.

In the 1970s, hybrid varieties of coffee that are sunlight- tolerant were introduced. To increase the production of this valuable product, most farmers ditched shade-growing for the hybrid varieties. Forests were cleared in preparation for coffee plantations. With time lesser and lesser coffee is shade-grown.

The destruction of forests has subsequently resulted in adverse environmental effects. Birds' habitats have been destroyed, soil depletion and soil erosion have been the order of the day.


  1. Support Small scale Indigenous Farmers


Plantation coffee growing has led to increased yields. This has hard hit small-scale, shade-grown coffee farmers. Most of whom abandoned the crop altogether. However, some still remain, and the only way to support them is taking shade-grown coffee.

The ship has not sunk completely. We can salvage it by sipping more quality shade-grown coffee. Although it might be pricier it’s what we should pay for healthier better-tasting coffee. For more on matters coffee, see Coffee Dorks.

As consumers, we have a weapon - consumer demand. Consumer demand can influence to a large extent how a product is delivered. You can choose to support the status quo or use it to ensure sustainable production of coffee.

Wouldn't you be happy to have your fix knowing that you're influencing the world in the positive direction? Even if it were by 0.0000001%? Viva! 

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