and Shade Grown Coffee
Benefits of Shade Grown Coffee
grown coffee benefits song birds who use the coffee plant as a natural
habitat, reduces the need for fertilizers and herbicides,
and promotes biodiversification. Unfortunately, the
production of a shade grown coffee estate is almost 1/3 that of a
non-shaded coffee farm. Therefore, there is an alarming trend
towards technification or the planting of new hybrids in
organized fields to maximize profits. Approximately
150 bird species live on farms of shade grown coffee,
whereas non-shaded coffee supports s few as 20-50 species.
Between 1980 and 1994 the songbird populations have steadily
decreased. There are 70% fewer Tennessee Warbles, 30%
fewer Baltimore Orioles, and 50% less Cape May Warbles due
in part to technification. However, these numbers and
the causes for the decrease in bird populations have been
debated heavily. Until it is decided that growing shade
grown, bird friendly coffee is economically feasible, the trend towards
technification will continue.
Beyond the benefit that shade can provide
to migratory birds, shade grown coffee often tastes better. The shade has a similar effect on coffee as growing
coffee at high altitudes. Both of these factors slow down
the growth of a coffee which results in the production of
more sugars and chemicals responsible for the perceived
acidity in coffee.
There are several types of shade grown
- Rustic (rusticano): Coffee trees
are planted in an existing forest with few changes to
the native plants.
- Traditional polyculture (policultura
tradicional): This method is more deliberate than
the rustic method. It consists of integrating
other plants such as fruits, vegetables, etc within the
coffee farm. This allows the farmer to diversity
crops while maintaining the beneficial conditions of
shade grown coffee.
- Commercial polyculture (policultura
comercial): similar to traditional polyculture, but
with more coffee and less shade trees. This type
of shade allows higher production, but also requires the
use of some pesticides and fertilizers.
- Reduced or specialized shade (sombra
especializada): uses a single canopy to provide
shade. Typically from Inga, Erythrina,
Gliricidia, or Grevillea.
- Full-sun or unshaded monoculture (monocultura
sin sombre): this coffee is grown without shade
trees. Production is higher, but fertilizers,
pesticides, and herbicides are often used. This
type of coffee will continue to grow in popularity until
consumers agree to pay more for organic shade grown coffee.
- (Source: Coffee
Criteria for Shade Grown Coffee from the
Rainforest Alliance: English
(*.pdf) or Spanish