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Shade Grown Coffee

Shade grown coffee is known as coffee tree or shrub that is grown in the forest, or plantations, in the shade.

Coffee that is grown in the shade takes a long time to get ripe and makes coffee taste better as the long ripening process is said to preserve and make coffee taste better. Various studies indicate that coffee that is grown in the shade has the highest yield and reduces weed growth, pathogen infection, protect the coffee from frost which spoils the coffee bean and helps to increase pollination.

There are many growers who do not want to wait that long to market the coffee and they prefer faster growing, higher yielding coffee and grow coffee in sunnier conditions.

Environmentalist have pointed out that coffee grown in sunnier conditions do not contribute to biodiversity unlike shade grown coffee. This loss of biodiversity, especially in nature and animals birds, has influenced some consumers to look for shade grown coffee. There is no proof as such that even though one thinks they use shade grown coffee that is it indeed shade grown coffee as there is no such continuum in place to review the standard and condition.

There are different stages of shade grown coffee. They are as follows,

Rustic : This is used in small plantations. This type of shade grown coffee is grown in the existing forest with no changes to native vegetation. Tree species are diverse and there is a high percentage of bio diversity here.

Traditional polyculture : Shade grown coffee with several other forest trees and plants. Here too there is a high percentage bio diversity. Common trees that grow well with shade grown coffee are Inga, Grevillea, Acacia, Erythrina, and Gliricidia.

Commercial polyculture: Shade grown coffee is grown with other big trees such as timber that provides the shade but there are not many as they have been uprooted to increase the number of coffee trees. Some pesticides and fertilizers are used. There is less bio diversity in this type of growth.

Shaded monoculture: Dense planting of coffee with only one or two trees to provide shade. Coffee grown using this method is exposed to a lot of sun as there is no or less shade covering.

This shows that even though the coffee label claims that it is shade grown coffee it may not always be what the consumer is looking for.

There are many organizations that are canvassing the certification of shade grown coffee.