Choose shade-grown coffee
Choose shade-grown coffee to enjoy a cup of brew that does not threaten the existence of rainforests and the inhabitants that thrive there, specifically native bird species.
Find it! Shade-grown coffee roasters
Below is a sampling of coffee roasters whose wares are grown using traditional, sustainable methods that do not destroy rainforest ecosystems. To find locations where coffee with the Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign stamp of approval is sold, check out this map.
Organic, Fair Trade Certifed, shade-grown coffee harvested in Chiapas, Mexico. Café Mam is active in supporting pesticide reform groups such as the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and is a member of the Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign.
Specializing in organic, Fair Trade Certified, and shade-grown coffees, Grounds for Change donates a portion of total sales to environmental and social organizations and offsets 100 percent of the non-renewable energy used to power its roastery and other facilities. The company also offers fair trade and organic teas, yerba mate, and chocolate.
This Bellingham, Washington purveyor of organic, Fair Trade Certified, and shade-grown coffees only chooses beans from cooperatives and farms of less than 15 acres that work to support biodiversity and natural bird habitats. Coffee plants are pruned, weeded, thinned, and harvested by hand and only organic fertilizers and compost are used.
Choosing shade-grown coffee helps you go green because…
- It's grown in a sustainable, traditional manner that requires little or no pesticides and eschews rainforest clear-cutting for mass "sun coffee" production.
Shade-grown coffee is grown the traditional way: under the natural sun-filtering shade of rainforest canopies. Shade-grown coffee currently represents just 1 percent, or $30 million, of the United State's market for coffee. Shade-grown coffee, which is often labeled as Bird Friendly coffee, is frequently also fairly traded and subject to predominately organic farming methods.
In recent years, many coffee farmers have begun growing coffee in full sun conditions to increase their yields, as growing coffee without direct sunlight is slower and yields less crop (approximately one-third of that of shadeless methods). Growing coffee in full sun, however, poses two major environmental problems. First, it requires massive clear-cutting of rainforests to make room for coffee plantations. Since 1972—the year when new hybrids of coffee that thrive in direct sunlight were introduced—over 60 percent of the 6 million acres of land used for coffee production have been stripped of their trees. This has had a direct effect on biodiversity, especially for the migratory songbird population that lives in these trees, whose population has steeply declined in recent years due to habitat loss. On coffee farms that have kept existing ecosystems intact, over 150 species of birds continue to thrive, while on farms that have given way to shadeless growing, only 20 to 50 species remain.
Second, for coffee trees to tolerate full sun conditions, they must be heavily treated with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals pollute soil and ground water, destroy ecosystems, and threaten the health of both human and animal populations.
Related health issues
The caffeine found in both conventional and organic coffee is known to be an addictive stimulant and, when not consumed in moderation, can lead to health-related issues such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. Heavy coffee consumption can also yellow the teeth. Additionally, heath risks can arise from the chemical residue on pesticide-sprayed, conventionally grown coffee.
- Bird Friendly coffee: A variation of Latin American shade-grown coffee, certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, that is guaranteed to be both shade-grown and certified organic by a third-party.