Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Justina (for those of you that do, thanks for coming back to check out my second post!) My previous blog post, The Case for Sustainable Coffee: Climate Change and Chemicals focused on Climate Change and the ways in which organic and sustainable coffee can make a huge impact on the health and well being of people as well as the planet. Not using pesticides has many advantages but has some disadvantages in terms of producing a lower yield of coffee. As a result, our coffee comes at a bit of a higher price than conventional coffee. This blog post examines the reason for our price premium, mostly focusing on shade grown coffee and the way it differs from clear cutting coffee production (also known as conventional, hybrid or sun grown coffee).
Shade grown coffee is one of the most sustainable methods of growing coffee. Black River Roasters is proud to roast various different types of shade grown coffee. Even if a coffee that we sell is not labeled as being shade grown, do not lose hope, it still may be shade grown, just ask one of our Baristas! The goal of shade grown is to mimic the way in which plants (and as a result, wildlife) interact and grow as an ecosystem. There are obviously different ways of shade growing coffee (check out the infographic below). However, it is important to take note that any shade grown method is much better for the earth and all of its inhabitants than the sun grown method. “[Hybrid varieties] withstand direct sunlight and at the same time produced a greater yield of beans. It was a farmers dream except for the fact that the hybrids were more vulnerable to disease and required pesticides – for the first time” (Genziuk). Sun grown coffee may produce better yields but as a result of little to no ground cover, the necessary pesticides used for conventional methods run-off into local watersheds. “The more a coffee farm mimics a dense, multi-story canopy forest, the better it functions as a watershed… [and] the sparser the vegetation on a coffee farm, the worse it functions” (Kubota). Shade grown coffee not only protects the watershed but also protects and strengthens the biodiversity of the ecosystem which, consequently, benefits the coffee plants.
Remember, whether it’s hot or cold, be strong and be bold!
“Bird Friendly and Shade Grown Coffee- Benefits of Shade Grown Coffee.” Coffee Research, n.d. <http://www.coffeeresearch.org/politics/birdsafe.htm>
Craparo, Alessandro. “Coffee Snobs: This Brew May Get Pricey, Thanks to Climate Change.” Fortune. 2 June 2015. Web.
Genziuk, Shane. “Benefits of Shade Grown, Organic and Fair Trade Coffee Beans.” Ground To Ground. 17 November 2011. Web.
Iscaro, Joel. “The Impact of Climate Change on Coffee Production in Colombia and Ethiopia.” Global Majority E-Journal, vol. 5, no. 1, 2014.
Karp, Daniel S. Mendenhall, Chase D. Sandí, Randi Figueroa, Chaumont, Nicolas, Ehrlich, Paul R., Hadly, Elizabeth A., Daily, Gretchen C. “Forest Bolsters Bird Abundance, Pest Control and Coffee Yield.” Ecology Letters 2013.
Kubota, Lily. “Beyond The Quality of The Water in Your Cup: Coffee and Water Resources at Origin.” The Speciality Coffee Chronicle. 8 July 2013. Web.
Tejada-Cruz, César, and Sutherland, William J. “Bird Responses to Shade Coffee Production.” Animal Conservation, vol. 7, 2004, pp. 169-179. Web.