Background information

“Sustainable coffee is produced on a farm with high biological diversity and low chemical inputs. It conserves resources, protects the environment, produces efficiently, competes commercially and enhances the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”– Smithsonian Migratory…

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Revised on January 14, 2012

(updated June 2009) Recently, the topic of shade coffee came up on the popular Internet bird list, BirdChat. I hope BirdChatters will have a look around Coffee & Conservation, beginning with some of the posts listed under “Overview” at left….

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Revised on November 2, 2010

Coffee growing areas and biodiversity hotspots overlap, illustrating the importance of encouraging — through our purchasing power — coffee farms that preserve habitat.

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Revised on August 14, 2011

Coffee is equipped with an excellent defense against herbivory: caffeine. Caffeine is one of many alkaloids that evolved in various plants to prevent them from being eaten by insects. Evolution doesn’t stand still, however, and some insects have fought back….

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Revised on June 20, 2011

Coffee basics

by on September 29, 2006

Coffee & Conservation is all about helping consumers make the right choice when it comes to picking great coffee that is good for the environment. Coffee reviews are by regular folks using, we hope, understandable language and ordinary techniques. Still,…

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Revised on August 28, 2015

There’s so much stuff at Sweet Maria’s web site, seems like every time you visit you find another nugget. I found a great table of information on when the peak harvest and best shipping times are for coffee crops around…

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Revised on August 20, 2015

Why sustainable agriculture is important to biodiversity and the alleviation of poverty.

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Revised on June 15, 2014

A little primer on the various botanical varieties of coffee — including most popular types of arabica coffee as well as some that include robusta heritage, and even some liberica.

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Revised on June 12, 2014

Can people without a biology background — coffee roasters, importers, or retailers — make sound assessments of coffee plantations?

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Revised on October 26, 2010

There are pros and cons to the shade certification process, including costs to farmers, and problems with applying one-size-fits-all biodiversity criteria to different regions. Therefore, some farms may meet or exceed certification criteria — and be excellent sanctuaries for biodiversity…

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Revised on June 11, 2015

Who owns what?

by on February 20, 2006

You can find many different coffee brands on supermarket shelves, and frequently multiple brands are actually owned by one of only a few corporate conglomerates. Some of these companies have poor records when it comes to environmental and social responsibility….

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Revised on September 9, 2013

What is shade-grown coffee?

by on February 6, 2006

It is important to understand the various levels of growing coffee under shade. This lists the five most typical categories, from the most desirable, traditional growing method, to the least diverse, most modern and technified method.

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Revised on February 16, 2015

The problems with sun coffee

by on February 5, 2006

In order to increase the yield of coffee shrubs and individual farms, coffee farmers were encouraged to replace traditional shade grown coffee with sun cultivation. Over 2.5 million acres of forests in Central America were destroyed to make way for monocultures of sun grown coffee.

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Revised on July 14, 2015

Birds and coffee plantations

by on February 4, 2006

Traditional, shade-grown coffee plantations harbor a diversity of many taxa — orchids, insects, and mammals, for example. But it is the research that showed the importance of shade coffee plantations to birds that caught the attention of the public, and…

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Revised on January 14, 2012

There is no set definition of the term “shade grown.” Here are the two main certifications that deal with shade coffee.

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Revised on February 14, 2015