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Source: Couleur

This Is The Easiest Way To Tell If Your Coffee Is Good For The Planet

By Nicole Caldwell

The average American drinks 3.1 cups of coffee a day. That’s a big business, amounting to around $40 billion a year.

To support this habit, the world needs a lot of coffee farms. And to heighten productivity on said farms, traditional growing techniques have been sidelined in order to grow varieties of coffee that produce higher yields. And that is causing untold amounts of ecological damage to areas known for being among the most biologically diverse in the world. But there’s a simple way to ensure your caffeine fix doesn’t come at the cost of the environment.

Coffee’s dark little secret

Coffea arabica, the world’s most popular coffee, grows in Ethiopia under rainforest canopies in partial shade. For other varieties like that to grow, the beans need to be cultivated underneath shading plants—which can be single trees, or a cluster of many different plants. That cuts down on productivity, since only so many coffee plants can grow on an acre when you need to have non-coffee plants next to them providing shade. So farmers have developed and imported higher-yield, sun-tolerant coffees that can grow without shade cover (albeit with more water and fertilizers) than the traditional, native beans.