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Shade-Grown Coffee

It's Cooler in the ShadeShade Grown Coffee

"Shade-Grown" is a broad term that refers to coffee grown under a canopy of trees. Because it incorporates principles of natural ecology to promote natural ecological relationships, shade-grown coffee is typically promoted as beneficial to birds, the environment overall, and to bidiversity. Some shade-growers sell their shade layers as carbon-offset trees.

There's not a single worldwide standard certification for Shade-Grown coffee, so we steer customers who are interested in Shade Grown coffee to coffees certified as Bird Friendly (incorporating shade and organic practices) or coffees grown using sustainable agriculture techiques (like shade and organic).

Bird Friendly coffees are certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. For more on Bird-Friendly coffee, click here.

Several organizations promote sustainable agriculture. We're supporters of the Rainforest Alliance, a non-governmental organization that promotes and certifies sustainable agricultural practices worldwide. To learn more on Rainforest Alliance certified coffee, click here.

Shade Grown Coffee vs Sun Grown Coffee


Shade Grown CoffeeSun Grown Coffee
Historical, traditional, sustainable method of farming preserves tree-canopy habitat for songbirds and other animalsCrop requires full sun, resulting in clearcutting of rainforest habitat causing soil erosion and depletion; unsustainable
Usually organically grown, free of chemical applicationsRequires chemical fertilizers, pesticides and/or herbicides
Better taste - beans mature more slowly in shade allowing the natural sugars to fully develop, creating a rich, intense flavorSun-grown hybrid coffees produce higher yields, but do not taste nearly as good as shade-grown coffee


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