Why is Shade Grown Coffee Better?

Shade grown coffee is the traditional method of coffee farming. Today’s highly commercial coffee plantations are replacing wildlife habitat at an alarming rate. Practising shade grown coffee farm may be the best way for conservation of natural habitant for a great number of birds, reptiles, ants, butterflies, bats, plants and other organisms. Of all agricultural land uses, shade-grown coffee is most likely the crop that supports the highest diversity of migratory birds, native flora and fauna.

Shade grown coffees are always better than sun-tolerant coffee. Shade trees play a fundamental role to promote natural ecological relationships regulating the micro-climate of coffee plantations. It also regulates agronomic conditions such as vegetative growth and coffee beans development.

Benefits of Shade Grown Coffee

Earth Easy, Solution for Sustainable Living has mentioned some of the major benefits of shade grown coffee

As the coffee beans mature more slowly in the shade, natural sugars increase and enhance the flavor of the coffee.
Next to tobacco, coffee is sprayed with more chemicals than any other product consumed by humans. Shade grown coffee is most often organically grown, free of chemical use.
Shade grown coffee requires little or no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. The shade trees filter carbon dioxide which causes global warming, and aid in soil moisture retention which minimizes erosion.
Migrating bird populations have been in rapid decline since the introduction of “sun” coffee and the consequent destruction of rain-forest for more coffee plantations. As many as 150 species of birds have been identified on shade coffee farms.
Coffee plantations which are chemically dependent suffer from soil depletion and increased erosion. Rain-forest is stripped to provide fresh growing ground. Shade coffee farms are, for the most part, organic and sustainable.
Shade coffee farms traditionally use little or no chemical fertilizer.

Some certification programs like The Bird Friendly and Rainforest Alliance Certification promotes and demand shade grown criteria that focus on sustainability and conservation of eco system.

In addition, growing coffee under shade also discourages weed growth, may reduce pathogen infection, protect the crop from frost, and helps to increase numbers of pollinators which results in better fruit set.