Ecology and Coffee: Everything About Coffee Plantation

published Jul 08, 2020
2 min read

Ecology of Coffee

Coffee is now an essential part of people’s lives that many would often say they cannot live without it. As evidenced by the coffee consumption by country statistics throughout the world, it goes to say it is a valuable commodity.

But do you know the lengthy process involved in making a coffee? What do you think it takes for it to get to your cup from the ground? Let’s talk about all the hard work that goes into your cup coffee in the morning in this article.

Coffee Varieties: Sun-Grown and Shade-Grown

One thing you’d probably be interested in is the two primary varieties of coffees. They are Coffea canephora or Robusta coffee and Coffea arabica or Arabica coffee. Robusta coffee is often deemed lower quality between the two because of its inferior taste.

However, that isn’t the only thing that makes the two different from each other. The environment in which the coffees are grown is also contrasting. Arabica coffee is shade-grown while Robusta beans are sun-grown.

Let’s find out more of these coffee cultivation methods in the next section. Read on to learn the benefits of shade-grown and sun-grown coffee below.

Benefits of Shade-Grown Coffee on Ecosystem

Shade-grown is the more traditional approach of growing coffee. It mimics the way that coffees naturally grow, which is underneath a forest canopy. If you look online for coffee consumption by country, coffee drinkers consider it the best method.

Farms using this method use various types and heights of shade trees to create the ideal environment for growing coffee. When it comes to impact on the ecosystem, the shade-grown environment is ecologically responsible and diverse.

It is also great that shadow-grown coffee doesn’t need plenty of fertilisers. It’s because the leaves and foliage from the shade trees provide its needed nutrients. Besides this, other benefits of shade-grown coffee include:

  • Reducing soil erosion, thus improving soil quality
  • Keeping carbon out of the atmosphere
  • Increases the amount of biodiversity in the ecosystem

Benefits of Sun-Grown Coffee on Ecosystem

Sun-grown coffees isn’t well-received in terms of its impact on the ecosystem. However, it is undeniable that it has some crucial benefits for the farmer. After all, it’s been introduced to coffee farmers to help increase their production. It can hurt the ecosystem, and the quality of the copy is below shade-grown beans. However, the fact that it increases yields is excellent because it means higher profit.

Differences of Coffee Plantation Processes in Different Countries

Besides the method of growing, how the coffee is processed after harvest affects the taste. Different countries have different plantation processes, which will be discussed in a bit.


Ethiopian coffee uses the natural or “dry processing,” which may have some issues such as over fermentation. In this method, they dry the beans with the coffee fruit and mucilage still intact right after harvest. The result is sweet and fruity coffee beans.


Kenya processes its coffee beans by washing them in coffee factories or coffee washing stations. After first de-pulping the beans, they are fermented then washed (can be in one cycle), before soaked in water. Next, they dry and rest the beans on raised beds. The results are citric, fruity flavoured, but highly balanced coffee.

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, they employ what they call the “honey process,” which is somewhere in between the natural and washed processing. With this method, they remove the fruit’s skin leaving the mucilage. They then set the beans on beds or patios to dry, allowing them to absorb the sugars that occur on the mucilage.


Brazil, the biggest producer of coffee, uses both natural and washed processes. However, it’s also said the country is using a newer technology mechanising the process from picking coffee beans to sorting quality.

Coffee Consumption Per Country

You now realise what a big industry coffee production is. You will be more amazed when you learn of the coffee consumption by country rates around the world.

Statistics show that the US consumes 4.2 kg of coffee per person per year. Americans drink coffee far more than Mexico and Canada combined. In contrast, Morocco increased its coffee consumption by 61.9%, Serbia by 54.3%, and Egypt by 82.1%. (USDA)

There you go. If you love coffee, it’s great to know how it came to be in your cup and how much people love to get a sip of it. People love it so much you can take up a master’s degree in coffee economics and science in Italy. Why not go for it?