Shade-grown coffees at Coffee Review

by JulieCraves on August 4, 2009

For August 2009, Ken Davids’ Coffee Review takes a look at shade grown coffee. First he describes the definition of the term “shade grown” and goes on to provide reviews of 12 coffees that scored 89 or over. Three were Smithsonian Bird-Friendly certified coffees, others were not certified, but grown under various levels of shade.

There were four coffees earning the highest mark of 92 points:

  • Counter Culture’s Finca Nueva Armenia (Guatemala). Certified organic and Bird-Friendly, this is one of my all-time favorite coffees. I reviewed last year’s crop, and this year it tastes even better. Ken describes a “slight hint of fruit ferment” that I find gives this year’s crop an extremely interesting, deep-toned, subtle wine-like complexity — it’s fantastic! I can be accused of giving a lot of love to Counter Culture, but I can assure you I recommend them and their coffees simply because they just do a bang-up job. Go buy this coffee!
  • Arbor Day Specialty Coffee Mexico ISMAM Co-op. Certified organic and Fair Trade. Coffee is traditionally grown under mixed shade in this region, and one or more of the many farms in this co-op (but not all) is or has been Bird-Friendly certified. I reviewed the Arbor Day Blend, which is sourced either from this co-op, or Nubes de Oro (which scored 91 points in this issue of Coffee Review). I wasn’t as enthused about either of these coffees as Ken, but suspect it was due to the crop I sampled being a little long in the tooth. I don’t see any way on their web site to order either of these Mexican coffees as a single origin, but you can go to the Arbor Day coffee web site and browse around.
  • Ecco Cafe Brazil Santa Terezinha. Organic. Santa Terezinha is indeed one of the only Brazilian farms that makes much use of shade; you can read more about the farming techniques at the blog of the importer, Sustainable Harvest. All the coffees I’ve had from Ecco Cafe have been excellent. I’ll be grabbing a bag of the Santa Terezinha with my next coffee order.
  • Flying Goat, Siberia, El Salvador. Certified organic, typically grown under shade in this region.  A classic, sweet Central from one of my favorite origin coffees.

There are other very nice sustainably-grown coffees in the list, many of which I’ve had and enjoyed. Go take a look at the reviews, the article, and while you’re there, the rest of Ken’s informative and authoritative site.

Revised on November 25, 2020

Posted in Certifications,Coffee news and miscellany

Wondering September 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I am wondering if 1000 Faces coffee is actually shade grown coffee. By this I mean Rustic or Traditional polyculture. They say they are trying to minimize their foot print and once mention shade grown coffee but the one picture on their site looks like full sun. Just wondering.


Julie September 29, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Their Selva Negra coffee is indeed shade-grown organic, and Rainforest Alliance certified. I have visited there, and they also have preserved large portions of intact forest.

The only other coffees on the site I see labeled shade grown are the Panama Bambito which is in an area where much of the coffee is grown under good shade plus they have 5 ha of forest (I've been in that area, too), and the Ecuadorian coffee. This coffee is part of a larger, very worthwhile project outlined here . This looks like a responsible roaster to me.

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