Cindy's blog May 3 2017 "The coffee you drink"



You may take your coffee for granted but I would like you to give some thought to your next cup as you can make a difference by what you purchase.

Coffee is the second-highest traded commodity in the world, and that has a huge impact at origin. With every sip of your morning cappuccino or your afternoon decaf, you are participating in the world coffee trade. The coffee industry is moving in the right direction, as long as every coffee drinker makes the right choice with their cup of coffee. That choice?  Shade grown.  You can call it shade grown, organic or bird-friendly. The thing to remember is that it’s necessary.

(If you’re buying organic coffee, you’re already a step ahead, since certified organic coffee beans are always grown in the shade.)

Now the question is… why is shade grown coffee important? Coffee is an evergreen. It does not lose its leaves and replace them, as do most broad-leafed trees. It is very sensitive to sunlight. Farmers use the forest canopy to provide filtered light for the coffee trees planted beneath the taller tress. The shade softens the sunshine light that reaches the coffee trees. In direct sunlight, the coffee trees’ leaves would dry out, turn brown, and die. The tree will then die. So shade is essential for the proper cultivation of coffee.

Environmentally, this is good for the forests and its inhabitants. Shade grown coffee provides an annual forest crop. In shade a coffee tree can live 50-80 years and produce for 90% of its life span. The preservation of the forest canopy in order to grow coffee conserves forest habitat for migratory and indigenous songbirds, monkeys, ants and spiders, and everything in between.

The leaf litter from the forest canopy provides a forest floor mulch, which in turn provides bionutrients for the forest soil to use. The coffee trees benefit as well. Over 90% of all organic coffees are grown in the shade.

When a farm is clear-cut of its tropical canopy to grow coffee in the sun, the environment heats up. The natural fertilizers, biodiversity, and home of so many animals is harshly stripped away.Shade grown coffee grows at a slower pace, and allows for the coffee trees’ natural surroundings to be cared for. This difference has an especially large impact on Neotropical migratory birds, as they rely on this canopy during their winter near the Equator. 

Conventional coffee plantations are monocultures with large environmental footprints because cleared land is unsustainable without heavy fertilizer and pesticide use. Conventional coffees are “cash crops” — nothing else grows alongside.

Make a commitment to purchase only shade grown coffee. Ask your local cafes and coffee shops if the coffee they serve is shade grown, Organic, or Certified Bird Friendly.

Next time you order a latte or brew up your favorite roast, consider the process it went through to end up in your mug. 

Tim Hortons has NO Fair Trade, organic or shade grown coffee!