If you love coffee, you probably know that not all coffee beans are created equal. Shade-grown coffee beans have a lot of advantages over sun-grown ones: They are more ethical, sustainable, and delicious than their counterparts.
But which ones should you get?
In this article, I will show you my list of the 5 best shade-grown coffee beans in 2023 that you should definitely try. You will also learn how to choose the right beans for your taste and preference if you’re shopping around, and why it matters for the environment.
Keep reading as we’ll discover the best-tasting shade-grown coffee beans.
Top 5 Shade-Grown Coffee Beans in 2023
If you’re reading this post, I’m sure you know that shade-grown coffee simply refers to coffee sourced from plants that are grown under the shade of trees. This is in contrast to sun-grown coffee, which is easier and faster to grow and harvest, but leads to deforestation and other environmental issues.
Choosing shade-grown beans is an environmentally conscious choice on your part, that’s great! Below are my top recommendations:
|1.||Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee – Clifton Mount Estate||100% certified by JACRA, Direct Trade certified, Kosher certified, & Rainforest Alliance certified||Medium roast||16 oz, 3 lbs, & 5 lbs||Balanced, fruity, with chocolate and floral notes|
|2.||Zambia Peaberry Coffee||Kosher Certified & Rainforest Alliance Certified||Light to medium roast||16 oz, 3 lbs, & 5 lbs||Bright, fruity, with cherry, almond, and raspberry notes|
|3.||Colombia Felipe Arcila Orange Velvet||Shade-grown coffee||Light roast||3 oz only||Concentrated and complex with notes of maple syrup, red apple, caramel, vanilla, and white chocolate|
|4.||100% Hawaii KONA Natural Whole Bean Coffee||Kona coffee is always shade-grown, Bird Friendly, and fairly traded||Medium roast||8 oz & 1 lb||Rich with fruit notes and aromas, less oily|
|5.||Bean & Bean Ethiopia Sidamo||Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU)||Light to medium roast||11 oz, 3 lbs, & 5 lbs||Elegant and delicate with chocolate, caramel, white wine, floral, honey, and lemon notes|
1. Volcanica Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee – Clifton Mount Estate
Volcanica Coffee’s Clifton Mount Estate Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a great choice if you seek premium, single-estate coffee.
With a full flavor, this medium roast coffee offers a nice balance and prominent fruit flavors, providing a rich and satisfying taste. The caramel and milk chocolate aroma is crisp, while the sweet and delicate taste is rather shallow and lean, with a pleasant dry nutty chocolate character.
Certified by the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority, Direct Trade, Kosher, and Rainforest Alliance, this coffee has impressive balance and no bitterness, with the perfect harmony of chocolate, floral, and fruity notes.
Volcanica Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee – Clifton Mount Estate Product Specifications:
- Source: Clifton Mount Estate in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains
- Certifications: 100% certified by Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Direct Trade certified, Kosher certified, & Rainforest Alliance certified
- Roast: Medium roast
- Sizes: 16 oz, 3 lbs, & 5 lbs
This farm produces consistently great coffee, and has been awarded over and over again.
2. Volcanica Zambia Peaberry Coffee
Volcanica Coffee’s Zambia Peaberry Coffee from Mafinga Hills is a unique and delicious coffee that showcases the best Zambian coffee-growing regions.
What sets it apart from other coffees is that it’s made up of only peaberries, an anomaly in which the coffee cherry produces a single, round seed rather than the typical flat-sided two seeds. This is why you can taste a more concentrated, intense flavor from this coffee.
Bursting with juicy cherry and lime notes, along with hints of almond, lemon candy, and raspberry, you’d love sipping on this sweet and well-balanced coffee if you appreciate a bright, fruity cup.
Volcanica Zambia Peaberry Coffee Product Specifications:
- Source: Mafinga Hills in Zambia
- Certifications/Memberships: Kosher Certified & Rainforest Alliance Certified
- Roast: Light to medium roast
- Sizes: 16 oz, 3 lbs, & 5 lbs
3. Volcanica Colombia Felipe Arcila Orange Velvet
Volcanica Coffee’s Colombia Felipe Arcila Orange Velvet is a unique and delicious coffee produced by Felipe Arcila on the Jardines Del Eden farm.
This private estate coffee undergoes dry anaerobic fermentation for 72 hours, with the cherries pulped and dried on raised beds where peaches were placed among them until the ideal moisture content was achieved. This process results in a concentrated and complex flavor profile.
Each cup delivers notes of maple syrup, red apple, caramel, vanilla, and white chocolate. This light roast coffee is available only in a 3 oz size, making it a rare and exclusive treat for coffee lovers.
Volcanica Colombia Felipe Arcila Orange Velvet Product Specifications:
- Source: Jardines Del Eden in Colombia
- Certifications/Memberships: Shade-grown coffee
- Roast: Light roast
- Sizes: 3 oz only
4. Koa Coffee – 100% KONA Natural Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee
Koa Coffee‘s 100% Kona Natural Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee is a premium Hawaiian coffee that has been naturally processed to retain the characteristics of the coffee cherry, resulting in delicious fruit notes and aromas that provide an exceptional cup.
The medium roast coffee was grown at an elevation of 500 to 3,000 feet above sea level, offering a big, rich flavor that allows you to taste the Big Island Kona coast’s recent volcanic past. If you’re using superautomatic espresso machines, this bean that has less oil can brew a really great cup.
Koa Coffee – 100% KONA Natural Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee Product Specifications:
- Source: Kona Island in Hawaii
- Certifications/Memberships: Kona coffee is always shade grown, bird friendly, and fairly traded
- Roast: Medium roast
- Sizes: 8 oz & 1 lb
5. Bean & Bean Ethiopia Sidamo
Bean & Bean‘s Ethiopia Sidamo is a delightful coffee produced by the family-owned farms of the Telamo Cooperative, with all the elegant and delicate flavors that characterize Ethiopian coffee (read more about it here).
Indulge in its complexity of flavors that include chocolate, caramel, and crisp white wine with this light to medium roast coffee. This product offers you a refreshing cup with a slight acidity that is elevated by floral notes and hints of honey and lemon.
Bean & Bean Ethiopia Sidamo Product Specifications:
- Source: Sidamo region in Southern Ethiopia
- Certifications/Memberships: Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU)
- Roast: Light to medium roast
- Sizes: 11 oz, 3 lbs, & 5 lbs
Shade Grown Coffee Buyer’s Guide
You can now make your pick among these great options but if you really want to go into details when making the best choice that would suit your palate, here are the things you should look for when buying shade-grown coffee:
- Certifications – Look for certifications such as Rainforest Alliance or Bird Friendly. These certifications ensure that the coffee was grown under a canopy of trees, providing habitat for birds and other wildlife.
- Origin of the coffee – Different regions produce different flavors, so it’s important to find a coffee that suits your taste. For example, Ethiopian coffees tend to have fruity and floral notes, while Colombian coffees are known for their chocolatey and nutty flavors.
If you’re someone who enjoys exploring different coffee flavors and nuances, I highly recommend trying shade-grown coffees from different regions. Each will offer a unique taste experience that reflects the soil, climate, and biodiversity of its growing region – a concept known as ‘terroir’ in the coffee world.
- Roast level – Light roasts preserve more of the coffee’s natural flavors and caffeine, while dark roasts have a bolder taste. I tend to favor the middle road of medium roast nowadays.
For me, a big part of the joy in drinking coffee is the journey of discovering new flavors. Don’t be afraid to experiment and ones that resonates with your taste buds.
Why Choose Shade-Grown Coffee Over Sun-Grown Coffee?
So what’s the difference between shade-grown and sun-grown coffee? What makes the former better than the latter?
As its name suggests, sun-grown coffee is grown in full sun, often in large monoculture plantations. This method of farming sometimes leads to deforestation, which results in a loss of habitat for wildlife.
On the other hand, shade-grown coffee is grown under a canopy of trees, which presents a number of benefits:
- They provide habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.
- The trees help prevent soil erosion
- They provide natural fertilizer for the coffee plants so shade-grown coffee farms may use fewer chemicals and pesticides.
But the benefits of shade-grown coffee don’t stop at the ecological matters. Studies also suggest that shade-grown coffee also has a richer taste than those grown under the sun.
When comparing the two, it’s obvious which one is the better choice. Not only for you but for the environment as well.
Read my in-depth guide on shade-grown coffee to learn more about the many benefits of purchasing and drinking shade-grown coffee.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding shade-grown coffee:
A coffee’s acidity level depends on factors such as soil type, altitude, and processing methods, but not sun exposure. Up till this date, I’m not aware of any scientific findings that prove that coffee grown under the shade is less acidic.
Yes, shade-grown coffee is generally more expensive as the growing process requires extra maintenance. Shade-grown is also more difficult to harvest than sun-grown coffee.
Now you can make your pick among 2023‘s top shade-grown coffee beans for your perfect cup of ethical and sustainable coffee.
Each one offers unique flavors that cater to different taste buds while also supporting environmentally friendly farming practices and nature. This type of coffee yields a richer taste with fewer chemicals involved in growing them, so there is an argument that it may be healthier as well.
Grab yourself a bag or two of the beans above, and enjoy guilt-free sipping knowing you’re doing your part for our planet too.
And please let me know how you liked them in a comment.