Ahhhh....hippy coffee...I'm sitting here in a happy daze while sipping on my mug of coffee (topped off with a splash of white chocolate coconut creamer, if you must know).
Last June, my parents and I spent a day at the San Diego Zoo, and the bus tour guide gave us some info on shade-grown coffee. It wasn't terribly interesting to me at the time, because, ewwww coffee is disgusting. (Fast forward 6 months, and now I'm a coffee fiend, whining if don't have a travel mug in hand as I drive to work.)
So, evidently, the big bad coffee corporations are slashing rain forests in order to plant more and more coffee crops. And that, in turn, is eliminating homes for lots of creatures out there. When I got home from our zoo outing, I did some google research and discovered that, originally, coffee plants were grown in the shade. But in order to obtain higher yields of harvested crops, the botany science guys came up with a coffee variety that did, indeed, return higher harvest amounts, but also required more sunlight and was more prone to bugs and disease. The coffee farmers slashed down larger areas to increase sunlight exposure and began spraying their new coffee strains to keep them bug- and disease-free.
On the other hand, shade-grown coffees stick to the original methods of farming - in the shade of the mountains and rain forest cover. And they are a stronger variety of coffee plant, not requiring the sprays of those sun-seeking varieties. More google research returned me the names of some coffee distributors with online stores. I picked the one with the nicest looking website and promptly ordered 2 bags.
Can I just say yummmm? We don't own a fancy coffee pot, and we certainly don't do anything special when we grind the beans. But, I swear, the coffee we make at home is far tastier than any I've tried elsewhere. For each order, I choose different bags of coffee, and we haven't been disappointed yet. As soon as the shipment arrives, we open all the bags and rate them in order how much we like the aroma. Then, later, we rate them based on the cup they brew. A mildly silly game, but very fun nonetheless. (And no doubt, the UPS guy loves delivering it because the entire box smells like coffee beans, even while it's still taped up.)