Background information

A summary table of the criteria used for shade certification by Rainforest Alliance, and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (under the “Bird-Friendly” trademark).

Revised on March 6, 2019

“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…

Revised on November 14, 2019

(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….

Revised on October 30, 2020

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

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….

Revised on November 28, 2020

Coffee basics

by JulieCraves 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,…

Revised on January 26, 2022

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…

Revised on November 14, 2019

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

Revised on February 21, 2016

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.

Revised on January 8, 2022

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

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…

Revised on November 24, 2020

Who owns what?

by JulieCraves on February 20, 2006

There are many, many brands of coffee…but most are owned by only a few companies.

Revised on January 29, 2022

What is shade-grown coffee?

by JulieCraves 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.

Revised on January 7, 2022

The problems with sun coffee

by JulieCraves 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.

Revised on October 22, 2016

Birds and coffee plantations

by JulieCraves 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…

Revised on January 7, 2022