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How To Tell From Your Coffee Label That Your Coffee is Shade-Grown


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Bird-Friendly: Certified by scientists from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, this coffee is organic and meets strict requirements for both the amount of shade and the type of forest in which the coffee is grown.


Rain Forest Alliance Certified: coffee bearing this seal meets standards that require environmental, social, and economic sustainability. In order for a coffee farm to become Rain Forest Alliance certified, farms must meet the following criteria:

  • Biodiversity conservation

  • Improved livelihoods and human well-being

  • Natural resource conservation

  • Effective planning and farm management systems



Organic: Though USDA certified organic coffee is grown without most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, there is no standard for shade cover. Because sun grown coffee is hard to grow in direct sun without fertilizers, organic coffee is likely grown under shade, but usually by other crops that do not promote biodiversity or provide habitat for birds.


Fair Trade Certified: Fair trade ensures fair wages for farm workers. Though vital to making sure plantation workers are treated fairly, this label alone does not provide any surety of sustainable environmental practices. 

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If you buy your coffee from a local cafe or roastery: Be sure to ask your local cafe or roastery whether they offer shade-grown or bird-friendly coffee varieties. Just as many local organic farms are not all "certified organic", not all independent coffee shops sport the labels above, though many work closely with the coffee farms that provide them their coffee beans. Your cafe owner or roaster may be able to provide you information on their coffee farms and their coffee varieties that use sustainable bird-friendly practices. 

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