Shade Grown Coffee

Environmental Benefits

Soil Quality

◦The foliage and roots of the shade trees prevent excessive soil erosion
◦The shade trees provide natural fertilizers
◦The fallen leaves conserve soil moisture and suppress weed growth

Natural Resistance

Leaf Rust (Hemileia vastatrix) ◦Shade trees can block the coffee plants from prevalent winds and decrease air temperatures.  
The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei)
◦Shade trees provide a suitable habitat for generalist predators such as ants, spiders and birds.

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◦Shade coffee farms are recognized in their ability to conserve biological diversity
◦It was found that bird diversity increased by 50% in a more diversified “forest-like” coffee farm 
◦Coffee farms serve as a refuge for many species of omnivorous birds during the dry season.

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coffee farmer's family

◦Farmers can also receive a premium price for their specialty shade-grown coffee beans.

Economical Benefits

◦Shade trees varieties can be economically beneficial trees, such as fruit trees.  
◦Although initial yields of shade coffee may be lower than those of sun coffee, shade coffee farms produce relatively the same yield every year.
◦Sun coffee requires large inputs of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides in order to maintain coffee yields. This comes as a result of the coffee not being able to benefit from the improved soil quality that the shade trees provide.

Improved Quality

◦Coffee fruits mature slower in shaded coffee farms.

◦The slower maturation rate favours the production of larger fruits, allowing an increase on the accumulation of sugars and soluble solids.

◦It has also been shown that the biochemical composition quality is enhanced including the contents of caffeine, oil and chlorogenic acid.

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 When shade trees are removed on a farm with sun-intolerant species:
◦The top of the fruit becomes burnt, giving it the name “yellow coffee.” 
◦The underside of the fruit remains green, or immature. 
◦This leads to a coffee with a significantly bitter taste.

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