What Is Shade Grown Coffee? And Should You Care?

What Is Shade Grown Coffee?

As the name suggests, shade-grown coffee is coffee that is partially or entirely grown in the shade (under the canopy of trees. Coffee plants naturally grow and thrive under a forest roof.

When fully matured, coffee plants are basically the height of an average adult and small enough to thrive under the tall trees that surround them in a tropical climate. They look like a beautiful, waxy green bush. 

Does shade grown coffee taste better?

shade grow coffee

A shade-grown coffee plot helps protect water quality, provides higher yields, reduces irrigation, and even provides wildlife habitat. NRCS photo.

Yes, compared to sun-grown coffee, shade-grown coffee is more superior. The quality of shade-grown beans is excellent. They are high-quality tropical coffee beans that guarantees you enough nutrients for every cup of joe.

If you doubt shade-grown coffee tastes better than sun-grown coffee, you are welcome to enjoy both and share your experience. Remember to let me know which taste better.

Shade-grown coffee benefits vs. sun-grown defects

shade grow coffee


Besides the high-quality taste that makes shade-grown coffee superior, there are other qualities that prove its actually quality coffee.

Shade-grown coffee has more nutrients. Sun grown coffee is exposed to the brutally hot sun, which hurts its level of nutrients. This means for every cup of sun-grown coffee beans, you get fewer nutrients. Chemicals like fertilizers can be sprayed to boost the level of nutrients but that lead to non-organic coffee. Shade-grown coffee are fertilized by leaves dropping from the tall trees.

Growing coffee under a canopy of trees has also been linked to coffee plants lasting longer than those grown directly under the sun. This is because the sun has been seen to unnaturally accelerate the lifespan of coffee plants.

What is shade-grown certified?

Compared to other structured movements like Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, and USDA Organic, shade-grown coffee is not, and for that reason, there is no actual shade-grown coffee certification. Lack of an actual certification means no standards for the industry. So, when buying this coffee, you may want to be very cautious. You can check for Bird Friendly, USDA Organic and Fair-Trade certifications just to be sure you are buying the right coffee.

Bird-friendly coffee

bird shade coffee

As mention above, it is rare to find coffee with shade-grown certification. Luckily, you can look for coffee with bird-friendly certification as they are the closest to shade-grown coffee you can get. Any coffee with this certification means it is organically certified and that the forest it grows in provides at least 40% shade for the coffee plants. So, make sure to check for this certification when shopping.

Where to find shade-grown coffee?

You will need more time to find the right shade-grown coffee.

Tiny Footprint Coffee is one place you can find quality shade-grown coffee.

Tiny Footprint Coffee shade grown

You can also check this site

Or, ist of shade grown coffee from Amazon:

Wrap up

As you can see, shade-grown coffee is coffee that grows and thrives naturally under a forest roof. The undamaged and eco-friendly habitant result in high-quality coffee beans that give you the best brew. When shopping, you may want to be cautious as no actual shade-grown movement exists to regulate production and processing. 


Is shade-grown coffee better?

Yes, it is. First, it is purely organic. No artificial chemicals added. Second, the trees produce their crops more slowly, and this results in coffee beans with a superior flavor. 

How many years can a coffee tree yield fruit for?

On average, a coffee tree can produce fruits for 25 years. It takes between four and five years for a tree to produce the first crop.

How much coffee does a coffee tree produce?

On average, a coffee tree produces 1 to 1.5 pounds of coffee beans. It takes about five pounds to yield a pound of coffee. 

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