Responsible Coffee: Sun vs Shade Grown, Forest & Bird Friendly Coffees

This year our Advent Calendar will be debuting some truly spectacular coffee pods. Not only do they contain just good coffee, but also coffee that has been sourced sustainably, allowing you to enjoy some excellent java while being friendly to the planet. This year we will be presenting our Bird-Friendly, shade-grown, and forest grown coffees. Keep reading to get a sneak peek at our new and green coffee pods!

Sun vs Shade Grown Coffee

Growing coffee plants is a sensitive and delicate process, especially when one deals with the sensitive arabica coffee plant! Many farms around the globe grow their plants in the “sun growing” style. This means plants are cultivated on plantations under the sun. These plantations are more conducive to fast, quick, simple, and mass methods of production. The plantations themselves come as a result of deforestation where massive swathes of wild land are cleared for the coffee farms. Not only that, but oftentimes many harmful artificial chemicals and pesticides are used to speed up the growing process for plants.

Equality in Coffee

Luckily, there is an alternative to this. That alternative is the “shade growing” method. Shade growing counteracts the deforestation problem by growing coffee plants among and underneath the canopy of wild trees. The surrounding trees provide respite from the hot sun for plants, but also contribute vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. These natural vitamins and nutrients in the soil counteract the need for any chemical fertilisers. Pesticides are also counteracted by the presence of birds and animals. These creatures get to enjoy their habitats and also feed on any potential pests that may threaten coffee plants. Shade-grown coffee farms thus contribute to providing habitats for birds and other wildlife. These sustainable farming practices whilst not widely practiced in general coffee production are mainly due to the efforts of smaller farms and collectives where specialty coffee is produced. 

Our Sun vs. Shade grown coffee is easily our wildest and one of our greenest coffee pods yet. Our Advent Calendar will answer the call of the wild with our Sumatran Shere Khan organic coffee. The canopy of tropical forest trees serves as a natural mode of shade, hence the sun vs shade aspect.

The coffee plants are tended to by a women’s coffee cooperative in Sumatra’s Gayo Mountains. These majestic mountains serve as a habitat for birds, monkeys, and Sumatra’s famous but critically endangered ‘Shere Khan’ tigers. These beans help to empower women, empower local communities, and help to heal and maintain the natural biosphere we call home.

  • Bean origin: Sumatra, Indonesia 
  • Tasting notes: Round, syrupy body with vanilla notes. 
  • Highlights: These organic beans are naturally shade-grown and cultivated by a woman-run coffee collective. 

Bird-Friendly Coffee

Bird Friendly Coffees

Taking flight this year in our Advent Calendar are our bird-friendly coffee pods. As the name suggests, this pod is the world’s very first officially bird-friendly coffee pod. But what is Bird Friendly coffee? Developed by Smithsonian Institute scientists in the 90s to help preserve bird habitats around the globe, Bird-Friendly coffee refers to coffee farms that meet the rigorous and high standards set for Bird-Friendly certification. 

Some of these standards include being 100% organic and using no pesticides, harmful chemicals, or artificial growing agents of any kind. Bird-Friendly farms must also maintain rigorous health of their forests and canopy, and maintain at least 40% tree shade coverage. This promotes biodiversity and allows birds and other animals ample habitat to thrive. About 75% of the planet’s coffee farms destroy or inhibit birds in their natural habitats or their migratory habits mostly through deforestation and the use of pesticides. 

Bird-Friendly hopes to reverse some of the damage coffee farming in particular has done to bird populations and our planet as a whole. That is where our Honduran Clave De Sol coffee comes in! It is helping preserve critical habitats for birds and wildlife by helping to provide and maintain their habitats. Clave De Sol is assisting in fighting climate change with its devotion to organic farming methods and nurturing of trees. The farm also protects biodiversity and supports farmers committed to the conservation and sustainability of coffee farming, too! Can you believe all of this is encapsulated in one little coffee pod?

  • Bean origin: Montecillos, Honduras 
  • Tasting notes: Honey, orange & hazelnuts
  • Highlights: This pod has got it all. It is organic and promotes sustainability. Helps to empower women in coffee. It is Bird Friendly® certified, one of the most rigorous certifications to achieve. 

Forest Grown Coffee

Akin to shade grown coffee, Forest grown coffee works in harmony and tandem with the natural environment to produce coffee, rather than destroy it. Forest grown coffee is coffee that grows wild in the forests. These forests have remained as pristine as possible, and have not undergone any kind of human interference or development for the most part.

Forest Grown Coffees

Forest grown plants share many of the benefits that shade grown coffee does. Things like, being free from needing artificial fertilizers, chemical enhancements, or pesticides. The forest grown method is also a great way to preserve soil and mitigate things like erosion and soil degradation. 

A green Christmas can be a wonderful thing. Especially if by green you mean both sustainable and in reference to where your coffee beans came from. That is why our Ethiopian Forest Coffee is certain to be a family favourite on Christmas morning. 

Like our other two pods on this list, our coffee plants are shade-grown. This means that rather than using artificial means such as tarps or buildings, the plants can be free in the shade of larger and older trees instead. This shade-grown coffee is lucky to be nurtured under the canopy of massive and ancient trees in the wild forests of Ethiopia’s Jimma region. A 3rd generation farming family is the acting stewards of the land and these coffee plants. Our stupendous beans come from wild coffee plants sourced from the Choché forest, which is considered the very birthplace of coffee. 

That is right, these beans are akin to some of the very first-ever coffee plants. So to say they are authentic would be an understatement!

  • Bean Origin: Jimma, Ethiopia 
  • Tasting notes: Bright, fruity aromas & citrusy flavors 

Highlights: Our coffee beans are organic and cultivated by a 3rd generation family of coffee experts. These beans are shade-grown and thrive as Forest Coffee among scores of ancient trees. 

Coffee with values

The beans from all three of these illustrious pods also fall into the interesting category of Vegan coffee. But what is vegan coffee? Certainly, all coffee is vegan, right? There are no animals that get used for making coffee, well, except for those poor civets, right? Not quite! 

Vegan coffee means much more than “doesn’t use animals or animal labor to make it”. Vegan coffee also falls in line with coffee prepared following vegan philosophical attitudes and principles like not harming the environment or other living beings as much as possible. 

As mentioned above, there are far too many coffee farms that not only contribute to deforestation, destroying habitats, and killing or displacing people and animals, but there are far too many coffee farms that exploit human workers and use harmful chemicals to prepare their coffee plants. These all violate Vegan lifestyle views and thus would not be considered vegan. So what would be falling into the Vegan coffee category?

Certainly, Bird-Friendly certified beans as they contribute to habitats for birds, plants, trees, and other animals. They are also 100% organic and take harmful chemicals and pesticides out of the equation. Specialty grade coffee is another great vegan mode of coffee. By buying Specialty grade coffee, we can help to ensure coffee farmers and workers are supported and paid a fair and liveable wage. If these criteria are met, one might be lucky enough to have yielded some stellar Vegan coffee!

Add these to your Christmas wish list!

These three amazing coffee pods are waiting for you this holiday season. From protecting our feathered friends to seeking only the sustainable, these pods are more than enough to ring in a happy new year, so grab your Eco Pod Advent Calendar whilst stocks last!