Shade Grown Coffee
Toucanet Coffee offers only shade grown coffee that is harvested from coffee shrubs grown under an over-story of trees. Shade trees mixed with coffee shrubs support twice the number and diversity of birds than sun-grown coffee fields. Not only are there more birds, there are more insects (food for insectivores), orchids, reptiles and many other organisms inhabiting this supportive environment.
Traditional vs. High-Yield Growing Methods
Coffee grown in full sunlight provides higher yields resulting in higher profits for coffee farmers. Full-sun coffee growers use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers to pump up those yields even further. Many coffee farmers are being pressured to switch from traditional growing methods so they can be more profitable. Full-sun coffee fields, which resemble row-planted cornfields, are fully mechanized and eliminate jobs for hundreds of indigenous workers that have relied on picking coffee for generations. Smithsonian researchers have found that 40% of Latin American coffee growers have converted to full-sun coffee. This involves the removal of trees through clear-cutting practices and has substantially decreased forest habitat that birds have depended on for thousands of years.
Harvesting By Hand
Coffee shrubs grown under shade trees have to be harvested by hand, requiring the sensitive skills of native workers taught from generation to generation, rather than the impersonal and potentially damaging process of machine harvesting. Ecologically responsible hand-harvesting can also yield various other products such as firewood, lumber and medicinal plants.
Bird Friendly Organic Certification
The Smithsonian Institute sets strict criteria for its Bird Friendly coffee certification. Independent inspectors insure that the coffee is organically grown and has the required percentage of tree cover. Coffee shrubs grown in this manner more closely imitate native tropical forest habitat, thereby protecting soil from erosion, providing soil nutrients from organic leaf and tree litter and suppressing weeds (eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides). All Toucanet coffees are proud to be organically certified.
Great Taste Too!
Coffee beans grown under the shade of trees mature more slowly and are recognized by coffee experts to have a superior flavor compared with direct sunlight grown coffee. Most shade-coffee growers also use traditional methods to dry and process the beans which intensify the flavor even more. So not only do you get great tasting coffee, you help the birds, their environment, the family-owned farms and those doing the harvesting!