What is the difference between shade-grown and organic coffee?
According to the Washington Area Coffee Contact shade-grown coffee normally indicates that the coffee was grown under an existing forest or a natural canopy and the coffee shrubs are planted without disturbing the environment or with making as few changes to the natural vegetation as possible. Bird conservationists are especially interested in shade-grown coffee because certain shade trees provide habitat for birds that have lost their natural habitat due to deforestation. Although many organizations are working on guidelines for shade-grown coffee, at this time, there are no exact standards and shade-grown coffee can be whatever the vendor says.
Organic coffee is produced without synthetic chemicals and with the continuing protection of the farm environment kept in mind. Organic coffee is not automatically shade grown, but the practice of shade-growing coffee is conducive to organic farming because the trees of the shade canopy attract wildlife species that control pests, lessening the need for pesticides and the leaves that fall from the trees act as a fertilizer and help the ground preserve natural moisture.