The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.
– Chinese proverb

Trees on Coffee plantation

We need trees. Why are trees so important? According to the Irish Botanist, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, trees are the most important living organisms on earth! Trees protect and feed our planet. They provide life-giving oxygen, store carbon and stabilise the soil.

coffee farm in forest
coffee plantation in forest

Trees are known to have medicinal properties. Various different cultures even attribute them magical healing powers!

Forests – with their incredible landscapes, breathtaking natural wonders and small details, sounds and smells – please us with beauty and inspiration.

After all, trees are the longest living species on earth. They give us a link between the past, present and future.
Shade grown morning coffee promotes biodiversity

Researchers found out that the trees around the shade-grown coffee plants are the most important aspect in supporting biodiversity. Their high branches and foliage make for a great habitat for a wide range of animal species such as birds (including wintering migrants from North America and Europe), butterflies, and amphibians.

Traditionally, all coffee was grown beneath a canopy of forest trees. Trees not only protect the coffee plants from the harmful effects of direct sun, but their fallen leaves also retain soil moisture while returning nutrients back to the soil.

Coffee farm in Northern Thailand jungle
Coffee farm in Northern Thailand jungle

Birds – the farmer’s best friends

Coffee farmers – who are environmentally conscious – work in partnership with birds. The farmers – on the one hand – provide an environment that’s hospitable for birds. The birds – on the other hand – are present to keep insect pests in check. If birds are around, there is no need for insecticide applications.

Shade grown coffee tastes better

Coffee beans mature more slowly in the shade. The more slowly the coffee cherries ripen, the higher the concentration of sugars in the beans will be. Natural sugars enhance the flavor of the coffee.

The sad reality of deforestation

Unfortunately, many trees of the rainforest are nowadays being cut down to grow sun-tolerant coffee plants more quickly and cheaply in direct sunlight. As a result, the habitat for wildlife is being removed. Industrialized monoculture coffee plantations that depend on chemicals are being created.

Today, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia are the top producing countries of arabica coffee beans. Half of all coffee is grown under full sun in these countries.

Doichang, Northern Thailand, coffee land
Doichang, Northern Thailand, coffee land

We can play our part

Every single day, we can play our part in helping to protect the environment by supporting coffee farmers, who respect and promote biodiversity. Therefore, let’s chose our morning coffee beans wisely!

Let’s get to know, where our coffee is from. Many small roasters establish relationships with coffee farmers, telling their stories and describing their coffee plantations in detail.

Let’s support farmers, who practise alternative ways to grow coffee – methods that are inspired by the origins of coffee culture. We should keep in mind that the wild, shade-loving coffee plants had been discovered in the forested highlands of Ethiopia.

The “Bird-Friendly” certification

In 1997, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), a partner of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., developed the “Bird-Friendly” certification. It confirms that the farm is not only organic, but also provides an environment with native trees that protects the biodiversity.

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