Shade-Grown Coffee

We are grateful to the following roasters and coffee shops for their partnership in this program.

Click on the shade-grown coffee logo to learn more about our partners.

Round Earth Roasters

Crooked Door Coffee House

Dynamite Roasting Company

Green Sage Café

Hickory Nut Gap Farm

Independent Bean Roasters

Ingenious Coffee Roasters

Shade Raised Organic Coffees

Tribal Grounds

Why drink shade-grown coffee?

Shade-grown coffee provides important winter habitat for songbirds that nest in western North Carolina.

For people who love birds and coffee, choosing shade-grown coffee is one of the most important things they can do to support migratory birds.

Producing coffee and chocolate in shade-grown conditions helps preserve migrant species like the Cerulean Warbler, which nests in our area. Shade-grown coffee and cacao plantations with native trees and shrubs have four times the bird diversity than open “sun” plantations. Increased shade and tree density, along with more flowering trees in the upper canopy of these forests, result in more birds and more species.


Coffee was traditionally grown under shade but sun coffee monocultures have prevailed since the 1970s.

As a result, the high quality coffee often associated with shade practices is considered in short supply. However, interest in shade coffee is increasing as climate change, chemical fertilizers, and insecticide costs make sun production less sustainable. Shade-grown coffee farming practices also benefit local farmers, as the greater diversity of birds helps control insect pests, pollinate crops, and spread seeds.

Many birds, including warblers and tanagers, that overwinter in Central and South America and breed in the southern Appalachians benefit from the habitat that shade-grown coffee plantations provide.


The birds shown below are affected by habitat loss in the tropics. The consumer choices you make have a direct impact on these birds and many others.

Have you seen any of these species in western North Carolina?

Roll over large version of photo for species identification and photographer's name.

EMAS is building partnerships with local roasters and coffee shops to promote shade-grown coffee for bird conservation. If you would like more information about partnering with EMAS on this initiative, please contact us.

You can now purchase shade-grown coffee directly from one of Audubon North Carolina's partners! 


Finca Esperanza Verde—an organic, shade-grown coffee farm in Nicaragua—began selling their coffee via mail order in November 2018.

The farm partnered with Audubon North Carolina on a Golden-winged Warbler geolocator project that has contributed valuable information on migration and overwintering habits of this imperiled species.

Click here to learn more about the project!

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving Buncombe, Henderson, and surrounding counties in western North Carolina.

Our mission is to promote an awareness and appreciation of nature, to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems, and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship.

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society

PO Box 18711

Asheville, NC 28814

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Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.