Written by JulieReading time 3 min
By now, I’m sure you’ll know all about fair trade coffee and organic coffee. But have you ever heard of forest coffee? Various environmental studies have revealed that, 30 years from now, half of the land around the world currently dedicated to growing coffee will be unusable. And we’re only talking about coffee here; the same is sadly true of any number of different crops. This is due to an over-reliance on monoculture – a result of production-driven agriculture – and the deforestation of tropical regions. With that in mind, forest coffee and agroforestry have emerged as practices that can make a positive and reconstructive contribution in the fight to avert ecological disasters. Today, we’ll look at them in more detail.
What is forest coffee?
Growing coffee in the forest is one of several methods of coffee farming. Naturally enough, coffee produced in these wild areas is known as “forest coffee”. What’s more, it derives all sorts of natural benefits from its unspoiled woodland surroundings. Forest coffees present several specific characteristics and must adhere to a precise set of specifications:
- The beans are grown at between 1,400 and 2,400 metres of altitude
- They benefit from an environment offering natural shade and at least 40% vegetation cover
- They are surrounded by at least 10 different species of trees
- The use of pesticides in these areas is prohibited
In actual fact, after agroforestry, specialty coffee grown in forests is one of the highest quality and most environmentally responsible and sustainable crops around.
The advantages of forest coffee
An ideal crop for farmers
It goes without saying that the characteristics of forest coffee, or wild coffee, are inextricably linked to its terroir and how it is grown. To encourage these agricultural practices, some brands pay farmers better rates for beans grown in this way and also guarantee sustainable outlets for the resulting coffee. Some roasters, such as Terres de café or Cafés Lugat, are even starting to offer coffees from producers who work in “wild mountain forests” or who use agroforestry methods in an effort to improve the quality of their coffee.
Offering more favourable rates to producers encourages them to pursue this environmentally responsible approach and allows them to diversify their income streams. What’s more, it’s easier to grow coffee in the forest than it is in the plateau because the environment itself is more conducive to coffee growing. All you need to do is plant the coffee trees and let nature take its course! There are also fewer expenses involved: no pesticides, no fertilisers, no machinery… Certain governments are also providing financial support aimed at promoting this ecological growing technique. Countries around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of intensive monoculture and the long-term benefits associated with agroforestry and forest coffee.
An ideal farming method for the environment and communities alike
Forests store CO2 in their trees and soil, and thereby make their own contributiont to the fight against climate change. As you know, forests all over the world have a direct impact on our health by improving the quality of the air we breathe. Agroforestry projects promote the planting of new trees and the preservation of both natural forests and biodiversity.
How does it work?
The shade provided by the trees protects the coffee plants from rain and sunlight. They also contribute by protecting the high quality of the soil: erosion and leaching are reduced and the soil thereby remains more fertile. The presence of the trees also reduces the need for weeding. At the same time, the organic matter they produce acts as a natural mulch. This in turn reduces the need for chemical fertilisers and infuses the soil with vital nutrients. Furthermore, the forest serves as an ideal habitat for a large number of wild species and all the different species of tree benefit from the elements of this natural environment: light, water, minerals…
Forest coffee is becoming increasingly popular and roasters everywhere are responding with new coffees produced by environmentally friendly coffee growers. Do you want to become a part of this ethical trend? If so, please check out our selection of coffee beans today. See you soon, and happy tasting!
Espresso, flat white, latte macchiato… Do you have trouble understanding the different types of coffee? We’ll explain it all! Recipes…
Do you like coffee, but feel a bit overwhelmed with all the different options? Between the different varieties, origins and…
A true icon of Slow Coffee, the Chemex is an extraction method, a skill and a work of art. If…