Is Organic Coffee Shade Grown?

One of our readers recently asked, is organic coffee shade grown? Here is the short answer. More often than not shade grown coffee is organic but organic coffee does not need to be grown in the shade. Read on for more info about healthy organic coffee and shade grown coffee.

Healthy organic coffee has been around for a long, long time. Unfortunately in the modern era the use of pesticides and herbicides has entered the picture in growing many crops, including otherwise healthy organic coffee. Although non-organic contaminants do not necessarily reduce the beneficial health effects of a healthy cup of organic coffee the non-organic contaminants cause problems of their own.

A study in Australia showed that as many as 133 unwanted contaminants can be found in regular coffee. If you want to avoid unnecessary chemicals in your coffee, look for organic coffee certification when you buy.

Just what is organic coffee certification and how does organic coffee certification insure the bona fid cup of organic coffee? Organic coffee differs from regular coffee in several aspects. The soil in which organic coffee is grown must have been verified as free from prohibited substances for at least three years. In addition there must be distinct boundaries between land on which organic coffee is grown and land where pesticides, herbicides, and prohibited chemical fertilizers are used. This guarantees that drift of substances sprayed or otherwise applied on adjacent land will not contaminate the organic plot of land. Organic coffee certification includes the adherence to a specific and verifiable plan for all practices and procedures from planting to crop maintenance, to harvest, de-husking, bagging, transport, roasting, packaging, and final transport.

Organic coffee certification does not require that coffee is grown in the shade but shade grown coffee is more often organic than not. Growing coffee in the shade is going back to how coffee grows in the wild.

Growing organic coffee in the shade is done by two methods. One is to partially clear forest and plant coffee. The other is to plant trees among the coffee in order to provide shade. When fruit trees are used the coffee grower enjoys two crops on the same land. He grows healthy organic coffee and crops such as plantain as well.

When the coffee grower simply plants coffee in among the trees of a mountainside forest it is unlikely that any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or fungicides will be involved. This is the natural way to grow organic coffee. This coffee may or may not be certified but it is indeed organic and the method of growing it is the pinnacle of sustainable coffee production. And when the farmer grows coffee in this way it is also good for other aspects of the habitat as noted in our article about coffee for the birds.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has a Bird Friendly Coffee page on their web site.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has developed the only 100% organic and shade-grown coffee certification available: Bird Friendly.

That’s right-no other bag guarantees that every bean is produced organically and under high-quality shade. Our seal of approval ensures tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds find a healthy haven when they travel from your backyard to those faraway farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.

The point is that USDA certified and other certifications do not guarantee that the forest habitat was preserved while the Bird Friendly Coffee certification does.

In short, shade grown coffee is typically organic and good for the environment but you can also get organic coffee that is grown interspersed with other food crops such as plantain or banana but not totally shade grown.

The Best Organic Coffee is Shade Grown with the Birds

The Best Organic Coffee Provides Bird Habitat

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