Photo Via Melinda Shelton
Coffee is grown in two main ways: in the sun or in the shade. But three University of Michigan researchers show that if we want to look forward to a nice hot cup of coffee a few years from now, shade-grown coffee is where its at. In a recent edition of BioScience, the researchers point out that shade-grown coffee has some major pros compared to sun-grown coffee that will help ensure future crops. Shade-grown coffee is raised under a canopy of diverse trees, encouraging biodiversity of flora and fauna.
Additionally, the canopy acts as a buffer between the coffee plants and major changes in climate like droughts and powerful storms, protecting the plants from harsh sun and heat, as well as erosion from water run-off. With predictions for common major weather shifts as the globe warms, this kind of buffer is vital.
With all these cons to sun-grown coffee, why is the method practiced in the first place? Two words: Big Yield. High-yield spices of coffee plants grow in the sun. So farmers thin out the canopy and plant the high-yield species in order to have more to harvest and more to sell.
Photo via R Stanek
The U-M researchers warn that while sun-grown coffee plants yield a lot now, they might not yield much at all with the coming of climate change. Researchers in England are experimenting with how plant life will change with coming climate shifts. I sure hope the landscape will include coffee!
More on Sustainable Coffee:
How to Green Your Coffee & Tea
Thank Your Lucky Bat for Shade-Grown Organic Coffee
Citizen Bean: Organic, Fair-Trade Coffee-of-the-Month Club
Drink Shade-Grown Coffee