Why Switching to Shade Grown Coffee is Eco Friendly
Do you enjoy coffee every morning? I certainly do. If you are like me then you are not alone, coffee has become a morning routine for millions of people. In fact, the U.S. alone drinks billions of cups of coffee a year! But, did you know that most of the coffee that is produced is not made ethically? In fact, your coffee could be harming the environment! This is where shade grown coffee comes into the picture.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to quit your coffee addiction. The real problem with the coffee we are drinking actually lies with how it is grown.
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What is Shade Grown Coffee?
Shade grown coffee is exactly as it sounds-coffee grown in the shade of trees!
This coffee grows on farms with areas of land that mimic natural forests. Coffee grown in the shade was the way coffee used to be exclusively produced. Forests are also where coffee grows in the wild.
What changed this? Sun grown coffee. Sun grown coffee is a hybrid form of coffee bean that grows best in direct sunlight. In 1972, the farming method of sun grown coffee was introduced to the world as a method to produce more beans that are smaller and easier to harvest.
Because sun grown coffee produces easier and a higher yield of beans it has become the popular choice among producers. This is likely what you drink at your local coffee shop and buy from your local grocery store.
What Makes Shade Grown Coffee Eco-Friendly?
Shade grown coffee is far superior to sun grown coffee in several ways. Let’s consider three main reasons why you should choose shade grown over sun grown.
1. Better Taste
Coffee grown in the shade takes a longer time to mature than coffee grown in the sun. Because of this long maturing process the coffee is far better in quality and taste than the quick sun grown coffee.
This alone should be enough to convert any coffee connoisseur, yet we aren’t just obsessed with coffee. We are obsessed with protecting our environment, and this coffee has so much to provide to our environment as well.
2. Environmentally Friendly
Shade grown is far better for the environment than sun grown coffee because sun grown coffee requires lots of harsh pesticides that contribute to soil erosion. This soil erosion causes farmers to clear more rainforest for farmland which then destroys more and more of our environment.
Yet with shade grown farms the trees that produce the shade also provide nutrients for the soil (requiring little to no fertilizer), protection against soil run off and erosion, and homes for wildlife-especially birds. The birds living in the trees of these shade grown farms control the insects and pests in the area requiring little to no pesticides as well.
Trees also reduce carbon in the atmosphere and provide us with more oxygen, thus reducing affects of global warming and air pollution. Shaded coffee farms not only reduce the amount of trees destroyed but also produce more trees and cleaner air for us to breath in.
As you can see shade grown coffee farms provide an ecosystem whereas sun grown coffee farms ruin it.
3. Multiple Income Sources for Farmers
Shaded coffee farms provide additional benefits to farmers as well. The trees and plants used to provide shade for the coffee beans can also provide food, lumber, and firewood for the farmers that they can either use for themselves or turn around and sell for additional profit. This allows them to sell multiple types of products, which helps them to support their families even when coffee prices go down.
So it’s obvious that shade grown coffee is far better for the environment than sun grown, but how can you get it?
How to Find Shade Grown Coffee
Certified “shade grown” is the only way to make sure you are getting this kind of coffee. Bird Friendly Certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified are two great certifications to look for. Additionally, Bird Friendly Certified also means that the coffee is organic. Although most Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees are as well it is not a requirement for them. So if you want your coffee organic be sure to double check that it is certified.
Update: after lots of research I have found this coffee that is Rainforest Alliance Certified and USDA Organic certified at a very affordable price! I only use this coffee when brewing at home now. For more eco friendly shade grown coffee, I saved a link to several I found on Amazon below!
Bonus Tips to Make Your Coffee More Eco Friendly
Buy in bulk. Buying coffee in bulk reduces the amount of packaging that is needed for the product. This helps us to reduce plastic packaging, and reduce the negative impacts plastic has on our planet.
Choose paper packaging. If you can’t find shade grown coffee in bulk try getting it in paper packaging that can be recycled or better yet-composted! You can find some more composting tips in my article here.
A mug with a message! Drink your eco friendly coffee from a mug that supports a cause you believe in! I personally am a big believer in animal conservation, so I want mugs that can support that and make a difference! One great place to find coffee mugs that support animal conservation is at your closest AZA accredited zoo! AZA zoos donate money to many different animal conservation groups and sometimes even participate in these conservation groups as well! By supporting them you are donating your money to a good cause.
Another option is you could choose a mug that was handmade from a local artist. You could even find a fair trade mug that was handmade by women in other countries trying to make a living! What a great piece that would be! You can even make your own mug and design a statement on it yourself, and everywhere you bring it you can start conversations about it and its message!
Organic Coffee. Coffee farmed organically means that their are less, and only natural pesticides used. This reduces the negative effects that many toxic artificial pesticides cause.
Fair trade certified. This means that the coffee was grown sourced sustainably and that the workers were treated and paid fairly. So make sure to look for this certification as well to ensure ethical treatment. If you are looking for fair trade certified clothing brands you can read my article here.
So if saving the planet is part of your daily life, then make sure it is part of your morning routine!
Will you switch over to shade grown coffee?