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Coffee: a brief history, how it gets to your cup (and what do those labels mean?)

Ever wonder how your cup of morning deliciousness was born? Me too. In fact, the idea of this month’s Intellectual Grownup came in the morning as I was begging my coffee to wake me up out of my stupor. I was staring in wonder at how much I love it, thinking about the millions around the world in agreement with me.

So for today’s post to stretch your brain, I thought we’d explore the wonders of coffee—how it originated, how it’s produced, and what the different labels on our bags mean. That’s enough content right there to fill books, so consider this your basic 101 on how this drink makes it to your mug.

(And if you’re not a coffee fan, surely you know of one—it’s pretty impossible to be somewhere in the world without a cafe nearby. And we discuss tea in a separate post later, if you want.)

A brief history

Coffee was birthed in the Ethiopian highlands. The legend goes that 9th century goatherder Kaldi noticed how “spirited” his goats became after eating berries from a certain tree, so he ran to the local monastery to let those guys know. A monk created a brew from the berries and was able to stay up much later praying.

kaldi the goatherder and the history of coffee

Eventually news of this new brew spread into Egypt and into the Arabian peninsula, where coffee traveled east and west, finally landing in southeast Asia and the Americas. And it’s been popular ever since.

How it’s made

Coffee trees blossom with white flowers in the spring, which give way to small green beans (technically they’re seeds). They ripen in to a full-blown “cherry” by fall, where they are then picked by hand.

Coffee tree
Photo from Gloria Jean’s

Coffee beans ripen at different rates, so one tree could have a mix of green (not yet ripe) and red (ripe) beans, which calls for experienced pickers to ultimately provide a less bitter drink. Often, cheaper coffee comes from a mix of green beans and red cherries, strip-picked at once mechanically.

drying coffee beans
Photo from United Nations

Next, the age-old method is to dry the cherries in the sun until their moisture content is no more than 10 percent. They’re spread out on tables and raked frequently to prevent spoilage, and overall, this process could take up to several weeks. It’s still done in many places around the world.

A more modern-day method is to remove the cherry’s pulp mechanically and then dry it with only parchment skin on. This involves several days of work involving fermentation tanks and rotating drums.

hulling coffee beans
Photo from National Geographic Stock

Next, the cherries are hulled mechanically, which means the outer husk is fully removed, leaving a green bean waiting to be roasted. They are washed and then sorted by size, and often the process stops here, leaving others to roast their coffee.

The back story on coffee, and a simple explanation of labels like Fair Trade, Shade Grown, etc.
Photo from Eleven Roasters

Many of your local coffee shops order green beans and then roast them there, and some people even roast their own at home. There are several methods to do this, such as with a popcorn popper. Let’s just say that roasting is an art unto itself, and aficionados taste the difference between the levels of roasting.

roasting coffee

Roasting turns the green bean in to the dark coffee we know, and can be light, medium, dark, or somewhere in between, depending on taste. The resulting final flavor can be anywhere from smoky to spicy to smooth to fruity, depending on where the beans were grown and its chosen roasting process.

Into the stores and in your cup

Photo from Joyride Coffee

The final product is a bag of beans put in your shopping cart or used to make a drink at your local cafe. The differences in flavor have to do with where it’s grown and how it’s produced, and choice has more to do with personal preferences than anything. Coffee beans come from areas diverse as Hawaii, South America, the Arabian peninsula, African highlands, and southeast Asian plains, with other places in between. Almost all of these are available in most western markets today.

Fair Trade

fair trade logo

You’ll often see “Fair Trade” on a bag, and you may wonder what this means. The simplified answer is that it depends on where you’re buying it, because it’s the location of where you’re buying it and not the location of the coffee’s origin that determines the definition of this somewhat controversial term.

fair trade logo

In most countries, this label means that the coffee meets standards, like that it’s produced by farmers who are members of a democratically-run cooperative, that it is produced without child labor, that there are restrictions on the use of herbicides and pesticides, and that the final exporter is paid a minimum price and a price premium.

But like the label “organic,” growers have to pay a fee to use this label, so just because the bag doesn’t say “Fair Trade” doesn’t mean it was unethically produced. (However—you can pretty safely assume that if a well-known coffee brand does not have “Fair Trade” on its bag, then that coffee wasn’t held to the basic fair trade criteria.)


When you see “Shade-Grown” on a bag, this means the coffee was grown under a canopy of trees, which cultivates the principles of natural ecology to promote organic ecological relationships. It benefits species diversity and natural habitats, a richer coffee tree, better soil conditions, better water stewardship, and natural pest control.

shade grown coffee
Photo from John Mitchell

There are variations of shade, from “rustic” (where the coffee is grown in the forest with little alternation of the natural surroundings), to “shade monoculture” (where a pruned canopy of local trees provides shade on a farm).

If your bag doesn’t say “Shade-Grown,” you can assume it was grown unshaded, which means trees exposed to full sunlight, and therefore requires things like fertilizers (sometimes organic), pesticides, and a more intensive yearly work force.

These labels can be controversial, but it does provide some direction when you’re otherwise unsure of what to buy. I’ve written in my upcoming book about the topic of where I like to spend money on things like food, clothing, chocolate, and coffee (I’ll share more later!). Buying to support ethical practices does cost a family more. But once you know, it’s sorta hard to turn a blind eye.

I’d love to know what you think about coffee—do you drink it? If so, what’s your favorite kind? Do you have a preferred distributor?

(Also, I’m happy to allow a discussion on the Fair Trade or Shade-Grown labels, but only if it’s done nicely. Mean comments will be deleted.)

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Rebecca

    Well, now I know where Kaldi’s (one of my favorite coffeehouses in STL) got its name 🙂

    I love strong, earthy coffee, but my body only lets ms drink decaf lately. I am really excited that we have a brand new small fair trade roaster here in Tyler, Tx. After reading a bit about fair trade I have been looking for a coffee supplier and can’t wait to try them out.

  2. Heather

    Very Interesting! So, Fair Trade And Shade Grown. We Buy Green Mountain Fair Trade Columbian But I Honestly Had No Idea What That Meant!

    • Jessica Canfield

      I live in the country but live near a small city Roanoke Virginia. I have seen fair trade and the Green Mountain brand but I wasn’t sure what that ment either and didn’t want to spend money for nothing. It is important for me to get good coffee but for years I have only been able to drink Folgers Simply Smooth because it doesn’t upset my stomach. I would love to know if there is an organic and/

      • Jessica Canfield

        I want to finish that thought. I would like to also know where to find shade grown coffee that would be gentle on my stomach. I have read so much lately about our food supply. I am starting by growing my own garden. Can Coffee be grown in VA?

  3. Jamie

    I LOVE coffee! I’m relegated to drinking whatever filter or french press ground coffee is sent to me and often it’s Starbucks. The local coffee is Turkish and I haven’t developed a full appreciation of it (can something be so bitter and sweet at the same time??). I also like to sip my coffee for a long time, so a little espresso sized cup doesn’t give me that experience 🙂 To be honest, I always thought “fair-trade” had something to do with small farms and local growers being paid a “fair” price for their goods. I’m guessing my Starbucks doesn’t qualify.

    • Tsh

      Ohhhhh, do I know Turkish coffee well. Kyle developed a taste for it, but I never did.

      (In my book, I tell a story about me sharing Turkish coffee with a sweet old woman in Kosovo. She lived in a tent, so we were having coffee outside. When she wasn’t looking, I dumped it onto the ground, but when she returned, she saw that my cup was empty and so quickly refilled it. She assumed that meant I loved it…)

      • Jessica Canfield

        I love that you have traveled the world, it is something I long to do. You will never forget what you experienced. I love the story about coffee.

  4. karen

    Read this, while drinking my fair-trade (from aldi!) coffee. Thanks for the succinct – and tasty – history lesson!

  5. Kate

    I love coffee. I feel like that doesn’t adequately describe how much I enjoy it. I am pregnant now so I have to squeak by on a minimum amount of caffeine. I enjoyed this post though! I like breakfast blends usually, nothing to dark ( starbucks tastes burned to me). I drink Equal Exchange coffee. They sell it at my church. They support small scale farm coops.


  6. Bobbiann

    I have been buying fair trade coffee for a while now. I read that some coffee plantations not only use child labour, but child slaves, as workers. Apparently, organic coffees are grown without child labour, but may not be paid as fairly as certified fair trade coffee.

    • Tsh

      Yep. Thanks for bringing that up.

  7. Katja

    What a fun read! Was happy to see my two faves, Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle in your “line up!” Btw, I’m loving the new website design, it’s fresh and restful, I’m more apt to actually read the content on the website than on my phone because its just so pretty. 😉

    • Tsh

      Aw, thanks! And yes, Intelligentsia is one of my faves, too. 🙂

  8. Katja

    Btw- I bought the ebook bundle yesterday. Was absolutely shocked at the value and content. I honestly felt like it had to be a mistake, like they accidentally sent me the downloads for all these amazing books…

    • Tsh

      Ha! Yeah, I know, right? The deal is kinda ridiculous. I’m actually psyched about all the freebies that come with it. I’m like, really? I honestly feel like it’s the Internet deal o’ the century or something…

  9. Robin

    This was very interesting. We just returned from Costa Rica where we toured a coffee plantation. It was fascinating! They use banana trees as the shade for their coffee plants. I learned there that the darker the roast, the less caffeine and putting milk in the cup also negates some of the caffeine. There is a lot of work behind each cup of coffee!

    • Julie

      I was just going to make a similar comment! We also have been to Costa Rica and found it interesting that the “dark” roasts are actually more burned and are less liked in Costa Rica compared to the lighter roasts which have way more caffeine! I thought this was interesting considering in Europe dark roasts are preferred, but they are actually drinking burned coffee! As a non coffee lover, I actually found that I didn’t mind the lighter roasts.

      My favorite saying during that trip was “coffee cherries” (said with a Costa Rican accent) after we had taken our tour. My husband still teases me about that!

      • Tsh

        Yes about the darkness! I was surprised, too, to learn that lighter roasts are more caffeinated.

  10. sarah

    I’m also pregnant, so I know the exact caffeine content of every variety of coffee drink. I was suprised to find out that a typical shot of expresso is only 75mg caffeine, while a small starbucks cup of plain coffee was over 200mg! I really always thought the expresso drinks had more caffeine. Glad I looked it up!

    My current favorite is an americano–i love the taste of the expresso in there. I had no idea how good they were. Of course I only get one or two shots of these caffeinated, the rest decaf.

    I think fair trade purchases make more sense, I am pretty careful about the chocolate I buy, but its tricky at holidays when all the kids “treats” are from the major companies that are known to probably have child labor involved. It makes me sad to think about kids whove never even tasted chocolate slaving away over cacao plants so my kids can indulge. So not ok.

    • Tsh

      I agree. SO not okay. Non-fair trade chocolate is one of the most slave-y products there is.

      • Jessica Canfield

        I did not know that about chocolate. Where do you get fair trade chocolate?

        • Tsh

          Well, I’m still researching what are the best specific brands, but in the meantime, any chocolate bar with the Fair Trade logo is a good start.

  11. Allyson

    Love the recent changes to your blog, Tsh! I’m looking forward to reading more of these segments. A quiet coffee break with a book always feels like a mini vacation in the middle of my day. Also, just wanted to mention that Starbucks does take ethically sourcing coffee very seriously so not seeing the Fair Trade symbol on their bags doesn’t always mean that the coffee doesn’t meet or exceed Fair Trade practices.

  12. Susan

    I love your Intellectual Grownup…after reading your research (reported with a very down to earth story) on whatever it is that you have chosen to share, I fell more…intellectual!. Thanks for doing this for our brains 😀

    • Tsh

      Awesome! That’s the idea. 😉

  13. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    Liked hearing coffee’s history! And, I’m just a fan of the Intellectual Grown-Up in general.

    I’ve been drinking it since I was 13, because at the time I thought it sounded like a sophisticated, grown-up thing to do ;). But, my parents only drank it black, so for a long time I didn’t realize you could doctor it up…and then I discovered the sugar-soaked world of Starbucks. 🙂

    I’ve bounced around from brand to brand, but lately I’ll just buy whatever organic, fair-trade kind I can get the cheapest. And now I drink it with a bit of cream instead of black.

  14. Suzanne

    I love coffee so much! My favorite brand is Equal Exchange, because they not only care about the quality of their coffee, but they work directly with the farmers to buy all of their coffee, teas, chocolates, etc., so they know that the fair trade price they pay goes directly to them. I respect them, because they don’t just give lip service to a commitment to fair labor for PR purposes – it’s the way they buy all of their products.

    • Tsh

      Okay, you’re the second person that’s mentioned them in the comments, so I need to look into this…

  15. Rebecca

    Excited about this and other intellectual grown-up posts. Great concept! It’s like the Art of Manliness for moms 🙂
    We buy green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s and roast them in hot air popcorn popper. 5 minutes tops, and the best coffee we’ve ever tasted 🙂 We prefer the Papua New Guinea or Ethiopian coffees — not too fruity, not too “burnt” tasting
    I’ve also found that brewing methods make a huge difference in taste, with my beloved aeropress taking first place (how can something that inexpensive make such GREAT coffee???) followed closely by a percolator.

    • Tsh

      YES! I was going to write about brewing methods, but I didn’t want to get this too long. Funny how the simpler the method, the tastier it is, right?

    • sonya

      YES!! We do the same.
      Since we brought home our girls from Ethiopia in 2006, my husband has been roasting Ethiopian coffee varieties (& others) from Sweet Maria’s or Dean’s Beans. He started with (multiple) popcorn poppers & last Christmas graduated to a small home roaster.
      We enjoy our coffee through a Pour-over method or French press.
      Thanks for the great conversation, Tsh!

  16. Emily

    Coffee also spread quickly (ESPECIALLY in the Middle East) because it replaced alcohol for Muslims. Since Islamists (among others, of course) do not drink alcohol, coffee became a very popular stimulant! A little fun fact

      • Cristina

        Me too! One good cup of coffee, tea, juice or smoothie and I’m a happy girl.

    • Tsh

      Ah, interesting!

  17. Ashley // Our Little Apartment

    Thanks for blogging about fair trade! 🙂 It’s a personal passion of mine and I coordinate a fair trade Christmas sale at the high school I work at – so I’m so glad you are educating all your fantastic readers about it. It’s SO often missaid as “free trade,” which makes me giggle.

    We have a sticker on our fridge that says “What Would Jesus Brew?” Heh. (Dean’s Beans, apparently. Which ARE super awesome.)

    • Tsh

      Ashley, it’s become a passion of mine in the past year or so, too. I plan to blog about it quite a bit more (in a non-guilt trippy way, of course). I did a bit of research for my book, and my eyes were opened. It’s amazing how much we can change just by redirecting our money, isn’t it?

  18. Mary

    I feel the way you do about spending my dollars as ethically as possible, particularly for items like coffee where my purchase can really make a difference. I buy coffee from two sources: Equal Exchange from my UU Church and Birds and Beans which assures that the coffee is grown where the forest ecosystem is thriving to shelter our migrant birds. After all, if we enjoy watching the birds in our back yards, knowing that they will have a healthy habitat when they migrate south seems right. Equal Exchange and Birds and Beans are both available on line and promote justice for the coffee grower and the environment. When I get my coffee wake up kick I can feel good about it.

    • Tsh

      Awesome! And yes, shade-grown coffee is crazy important for birds.

  19. Kathy

    I love coffee! And not just for the fact that it helps me wake up in the morning (although that is an added benefit at this point in my life)! For me, the darker the better. The information you provided was great! I can always use the refresher!

  20. Carmen Simon

    thanks for the post!
    I love our local roaster and cafe, Alterra (Milwaukee, WI).

    RE: the acid in coffee that bothers a lot of stomachs: I read a great tip on baking soda, and use it myself: put a tiny amount (not even a whole “pinch”) in each cup of coffee to neutralize the acid, but not enough to taste salty. Then I can drink more coffee!!

    My friend who works at Starbucks said the company DOES try to buy coffee from the fair trade coops, but chooses not to spend money on the certification. The packages say something like “ethically traded/ grown”. He said they can’t even find enough farm coops to purchase all their coffee beans from, but they are looking to raise the percentage bought ethically.

    • Tsh

      Good to know, about both things! Thanks, Carmen.

    • Jessica Canfield

      Thank you for that tip on reducing the acid in coffee that will help.

  21. Jane

    I would like an article about tea too, Tsh. I have heard there are as many ethical issues with tea leaf production as there is with coffee, and I really want to do the best by people as I can while still being able to afford my favorite drink! Right now I am doing that by buying loose leaf teas from a local tea shop instead of grocery store teabags.

  22. Tanya

    Interesting! I love learning more about the products that I purchase.

  23. Breanne

    We are big fans of coffee in this house. And of buying ethically. I do want to use our money well and not just indulge in something because I like and not be aware of the process it took to come to me.
    It’s been something that I haven’t delved into with both feet simply because I don’t know where to start. We do choose certain things to spend our money on and don’t waver. Coffee being one of those. I need to find some brands of chocolate that are good (in every way).
    We visited a tea planation in Malaysia and that was an eye-opening experience.
    I’m looking forward to your article on tea. And I’m really looking forward to reading your thoughts in your book and here about spending knowledgeably.

  24. Renee

    Love this post, now I do have to pour myself a large cup of coffee, it’s been one of those days! Funny how learning about java makes you crave some 🙂

  25. Jolie

    I will promptly be making myself another cup of Joe after I write this note. [Where did that name ‘cup of Joe’ come from?] I’ve heard from some bean-roasting-coffee shop owning people that if you are concerned about the ethical history of your bean its best to buy organic. This way you are ensured that the farmer had to live up to best farming practices and was rewarded in higher payment for his crop. And was paid better no matter what the fair trade coffee rate was that day…did you know the price of coffee beans rises and falls? Apparently fair-trade isn’t always fairly traded.
    If you are in Vancouver, Canada area visit the best:

    • Tsh

      Yes, the whole “fair trade” term is so confusing and can be convoluted. Unfortunately. And yeah, I’ve heard that if you’re not sure, look for the words ‘organic’ and ‘shade-grown’ on your bag.

  26. Alyssa

    My husband and brothers-in-law have been roasting their own coffee for several years and are truly in the category of “coffee geeks”. My husband recently helped our 20 year old daughter start a business if you want to check it out. We are a homeschooling, adoptive family and we hope this can become a business each of our kids can have a part in. We are in Eugene, OR but ship all over the USA.

    This is a great article and I will link it to my daughter to share with our customers.

    I have come to love and appreciate coffee more and more, and have found the history and process to be quite interesting. Yes, the discussion of Fair Trade can be quite complicated as we look at beans from all over the world. We are currently trying some coffee direct from a farm in Haiti, which is exciting because we have friends who are working there proving employment to women, and my daughter visited there last year.

    What I really love is an iced coffee with real cream on a hot day…maybe a square of dark chocolate to go with it!

    • Tsh

      Thanks for the link, Alyssa! And you’re not too far from me (and my in-laws live in your town), so maybe we’ll check you out sometime soon.

  27. Knapsack Spirit

    We buy our coffee at a coffee shop where they sell only coffee. The guy really seems to know his coffee and he told us Arabica coffee is the best there is. Ever since we started buying that & mixing it with regular coffee, we’ve not had a single bitter cup! It’s smooth & mellow.

  28. Lisa

    Wow! Thanks for all the info. I drink coffee in the morning and tea the rest of the day, usually. I knew about free trade but didn’t *really* know what it meant. I will definitely be more careful with my coffee purchases.

  29. Sarah Westphal

    Hah! This is too funny. I just spent today (and on Tuesday) roasting 30lbs of green coffee beans–which are fair-trade, organic and direct-trade from farmers/farms in Costa Rica, Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil–in our commercial roaster for our customers.

    I have to say I use to love dark roast, but over the years–from popcorn popper to commercial roaster–I much prefer medium roast which really brings out the nuances and flavours of the coffee beans. I now also drink it black–thanks to the Whole30! lol

    Having a few moments to drink my coffee–without it getting cold–while reading something is best. Especially with dark chocolate.

    Speaking of chocolate…looking forward to learning more about it!

    Love this series,

    • Tsh

      Yes! I’ve thought about diving in to chocolate in a future post. And isn’t black coffee the best? I haven’t doctored mine in years, so now when I drink a latte, it tastes kinda weird to me. 🙂

  30. Lindley

    Love this post! I’m not a real coffee drinker–I’m only in my Starbucks fixes for the sugar and chocolate (terrible, I know)! But, my hubby is a huge coffee aficionado and once dreamed of opening a coffee shop! Sure he knows some of this, but I love that I’m up to speed now! Thanks for enlightening this exhausted Mommy brain!

  31. Jessica

    Another vote for Equal Exchange. When my hubby was a pastor, he even got the church to use their coffee exclusively for the fellowship hour, and you know how people like their coffee!

  32. Amy

    One of my favorite places to buy coffee is a local cafe in my small town. He sells one brand of coffee, which he gets within days of it being roasted in from a small-scale coffee roaster (PT’s) a few hours away from where we live. PT’s gets their coffee beans directly from a few specific farmers they have an ongoing relationship with, and visit several times a year. I love that I’m supporting a coffee company with a heart and a local business at the same time. Plus, it tastes really good!

  33. Jenni

    I buy my coffee from a local company (, they do have a Fair Trade Organic line of coffees as well as a Direct Trade that works with individual coffee farmers. On their website, most of their coffees have a brief story about either where it came from (if it is one of the ones from a specific place) or about the roasting/flavoring process.

  34. Nadya

    Love the post, wonderfully informative. Just one small thing: FAIR TRADE actually refers to the way coffee is bought. It does pertain to not using slave/child labour, BUT more than that, it also pertains to the fact that 3rd party buyers go out to the sellers, and then pay a ridiculously low amount for the coffee. Because coffee spoils very fast, the seller then has to sell, or risk spoiling a whole crop and getting nothing, whilst these buyers then go on to sell the coffee at top dollar. FAIR TRADE is a label that ensure the buyer that all particpants in the production of said coffee, were treated and paid fairly for their product.
    ORGANIC pertains to the fact that there were no pestacides or such used in the production. These are 2 different labels for 2 different aspects: The one being for the humanitarian aspect, and the other for the environmental aspect.
    Never knew about the shade grown coffee though, so that is some new info for me.

    Thank you for all your wonderful posts!

  35. Scott

    Hi, I appreciate the nicely researched article. Two other great coffee certification .orgs are Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Kapeh. These two certifications guiding principles revolve around teaching land husbandry, human rights, and sustainability through increase production. Great people with great results.

    • Tsh

      Thanks for the $.02, Scott!

  36. Lynn

    I probably drink more coffee than I ought. It’s definitely a comfort drink for me. I have found that Gevalia coffee is a decent budget option as far as taste goes, although I have not spent a lot of time researching fair trade, organic, shade grown, etc.

    Thanks for the information in this article!

  37. jill

    Wow…this article AND all the awesome comments were super insightful for me! I’m from Boston, so I was pretty much raised on Dunkin Donuts coffee. But after reading this article I’m planning on ordering some coffee from Equal Exchange. I know too much now turn a blind eye.

  38. Crista

    I don’t drink coffee, but this we very informative! Thank you for the post.

  39. Stephanie

    I recommend Camano Island Coffee. It’s shade-grown, certified organic, fairly traded, and…delicious, to boot. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I do enjoy the taste and aroma of CICR coffees.

    • Dan Ericson

      Thanks for the plug Stephanie! (Full Disclaimer: I’m a Camano Island Coffee guy 🙂 )

      It’s super important for people to understand what “fair trade” actually is and why it’s purely a marketing buzz-word anymore. The concept is solid, but the term has been soiled.

      “Fair trade” is actually a term owned by an organization. I believe fully in the concept of paying a fair price – but I don’t agree with much of the fair trade organization’s methods and results.

      This article is a great fact-based study on “fair trade” and coffee.

      • Tsh

        Yes, thank you for sharing, Dan. It’s really all so confusing in some ways, isn’t it? And such a shame for those of you who do great work…

        Glad your voice is here.

  40. Bethany Nash

    What a fun post! We buy green beans from Sweet Maria’s, too. My husband roasts them in an air popper, and makes a lovely pour-over in the Chemex. Mmmmm. SO TASTY. 🙂

  41. Jan

    I’m still learning about coffee but do love it as long as it is not weak. I recently was encouraged to read about bullet proof coffee and how most mass produced coffee has toxic molds. Have you heard this?

    • Tsh

      I have heard of this, but I haven’t researched it beyond looking at the recipe for bullet-proof coffee, the one Paleo eaters love with the butter. Intriguing!

  42. Crunchy4Life

    I love learning things about taboo foods & drinks like wine is bad, wine is good, coffee is bad, coffee is good, butter is bad, butter is good….. the more information the better decisions are made for our health. I’ve also read some articles, one from Natural News about mycotoxin which is why I stick to buying coffee from Central America. And if choosing to drink decaf, this process is best….
    Hope this is helpful in your research process.

  43. Ana

    Very interesting post Tsh, I come from the Colombia Coffee Region and we learn that coffee always has to be shaded, otherwise it won’t bloom, so you’ll always see it mixed with plantain (local staple), mango and sometimes avocado trees, or some old, gorgeous trees called “guayacan”, which are a bit like Jacarandas. I had never heard of “Shade Grown” certifications, and to be honest I’d be a bit skeptical about them as I have yet to seen coffee in Latin America growing unnacompanied

  44. Beth

    Tsh I just started learning about Direct Trade coffee in February of this year when we began supporting a “short supply chain” coffee. A missionary friend of ours is working with farmers in the Nyika Mountains and their coffee is directly purchased by a roaster in my area. 50% of the price goes back to the farmer AND the community – it’s completely amazing!

    Then in July my company – Mary & Martha (formerly Blessings Unlimited, but still a DaySpring Company!) began selling coffee from a Direct Trade source too!! Same process! A missionary working with the farmers, selling directly to a roaster (amazing) in Springdale, Arkansas and when my customers order coffee from me it is roasted and sent to them within days! And the same incredible amount of sales goes directly back to the community! I wonder if you would be interested in a follow-up story?

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