Shade-Grown and Bird-Friendly Coffees

Shade Grown and Bird Friendly Coffees

Coffee is traditionally grown in shade in many, but certainly not all, parts of the world. In some places the arabica trees require protection from the tropical sun. In other, wetter places, shade is not practical because it encourages leggy, disease-prone trees. Shade may be provided by rows of carefully man aged non-native trees that are often sterile to prevent their seeds from sprouting and competing with the coffee. In many parts of the world, however, shade is a serendipitous business, and coffee is grown by small farmers as one component in a rich jumble of native trees, fruit trees, legumes, and other vegetables. It is this kind of shade that scientists and birders discovered was providing particularly important habitat for migrating song birds, especially those that migrate through Central America.
Bird-Friendly Coffees
Members of a cooperative of peasant growers bringing in bags of freshly picked, organically grown coffee fruit, San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala

Meanwhile, more and more shade coffee was being replaced or displaced by what environmentalists call “technified” coffees. These are coffees from recently developed hybrid varieties of arabica that grow well in full sun. These hybrid trees are disease resistant and bear more coffee faster than traditional varieties. They also require more chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides, and may also display less quality and character in the cup.

technified coffees

Smithsonian Institution has led a movement to define and certify coffees that are grown in the diverse, multispecies shade that prevails among many subsistence growers. The Smithsonian’s well-organized, well-publicized effort has been met with anger and hurt among many coffee growers with larger farms who feel that they are being ecologically responsible, but who feel, for a variety of reasons ranging from economic (high labor costs) to climatic (too much rain and cloud cover), that they cannot grow their coffee in dense, multispecies shade.
As I write, the debate concerning a proper definition for “shade-grown” is working its way through E-mails and coffee conferences, hopefully toward a definition that is both fair and environmentally sound. As it is now, the only existing certification procedure is very limited. The Smithsonian Institution

licenses certified organic coffees

licenses certified organic coffees that also meet Smithsonian criteria for growth under a biodiverse shade canopy. Such ultimately environmentally correct coffees are permitted to use the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s “Bird Friendly” trademark. As for other, conventionally shade-grown coffees, you will have to take the seller’s word in regard to their avian congeniality.


Grind Coffee

The processed green coffee bean is usually exported in its unroasted state because it is less prone to deterioration than its roasted counterpart, but environmental and other factors can all too easily impact the quality of the end coffee product.
Green coffee beans remain in a fairly stable condition if stored in a cool, dry place and will not start to deteriorate for twelve months or more. Ideally, the beans should retain the 10 to 12 percent moisture content achieved in the final stage of processing until the moment roasting begins, but less than ideal temperature and humidity levels can often cause moisture absorption or additional drying, resulting in a reduction in the quality of the beans. The optimum temperature in which to store green coffee beans varies greatly according to different sources, but most agree that the beans should remain in relatively cool conditions, and no higher than 68 to 77°F (20 to 25°C).
During transportation, and shipping in particular, coffee beans can be subjected to huge fluctuations in temperature and air humidity, with condensation being the probable outcome. Condensation is a major enemy of coffee exporters, because it can lead to the growth of mold and the destruction of coffee flavors—and at worst, irreparable damage to the entire shipment. Even if they are dried to the safer end of the requisite moisture level during processing (that is, less than 12 percent), adverse environmental conditions can nevertheless cause the green beans to absorb enough moisture for mold to grow.

Road and grind coffee
The roasted bean, by contrast, is much less robust and can start to develop a stale aroma and flavor only two weeks after roasting, as the lipids present in the bean oxidize. For optimum flavor and freshness, roasted coffee should be consumed before this process begins, having been safely protected from air, moisture, heat, and light (see here).
Most people assume that green coffee beans are unpalatable until roasted, but different cultures have long been brewing or using green coffee beans in a variety of ways.
Green coffee beans are one of the richest dietary sources of chlorogenic acids, which are highly effective plant-based antioxidants. Furthermore, studies have shown that these chlorogenic acids are also highly bioavailable—in other words, they are easily metabolized by the human body.1 For this reason, green coffee extract has been used extensively in nutraceuticals—various nutritional products and dietary supplements purported to provide health benefits. Green beans are currently touted as a treatment or aid for everything from heart health to weight loss, and while these beans may not exactly be the “miracle cure” they are claimed to be, they have been proven to provide some certain health benefits.

Some human studies have indicated that green coffee bean extract may reduce hypertension,2 and other human and animal studies suggest that it holds promise in helping combat excess weight and diabetes.3 Certain trials have shown that green coffee extract can help reduce the weight of pre-obese adults and prevent obesity in overweight adults; others have linked coffee consumption with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. While these claims are yet to be validated by in-depth studies, it cannot be denied that the potentially beneficial chemicals and compounds found in coffee beans are present in higher concentrations when in their unroasted state.
You can buy green coffee beans for roasting at home so that you can create a coffee tailored to your own tastes and specifications. However, to make sure that you start with a good-quality product, you need to know how to recognize defects in the unroasted bean.
A number of defects can be found in green coffee beans as a result of problems or faults occurring in the various stages of growth, harvesting, or processing. Some of the more important ones to look for are detailed below.


As the term indicates, these beans are black and opaque, and they impart a rotted fruit, sour, moldy, or dirty flavor. They are classed as full black if more than half the bean is affected, or partial if less than half is affected. This defect is caused by overfermentation due to overripe fruit or substandard processing conditions.

These beans are yellowish/red/brown and impart a vinegary, sour flavor. The bean is classed full sour if more than half is affected, or partial if less than half is affected. This is one of the worst defects to occur in coffee beans, because a single full sour is thought to have the ability to contaminate an entire pot of coffee.

When broken open, these beans produce a rotten smell with a flavor to match, usually indicating bacteria or mold contamination that may be caused by overfermentation. These beans have the potential to infect and contaminate a whole batch of beans, leading to the ruination of a large quantity of “healthy” coffee. Unfortunately, this type of defective bean is one of the most difficult to detect, because it usually looks normal in external appearance.


It is regarded as a batch defect when a consignment of green coffee beans is found to contain large- or medium-size foreign objects, such as sticks or stones.
POD/CHERRY If a bean makes it through to the final stage with the fruit, or “cherry,” still attached, the batch is considered defective; this could be due to improperly maintained or adjusted machinery.

Similarly, improperly maintained or adjusted machinery can result in the parchment layer remaining attached to the fully processed bean

HULL Again, improperly maintained or adjusted machinery can cause traces of dried pulp to remain attached to the fully processed bean.
INSECT DAMAGE These beans exhibit marks or holes where insects have bored into the fruit, laying eggs inside that develop into larvae. The affected beans can impart a dirty, moldy, or sour flavor.


Small beans with a wrinkled, raisinlike appearance are the result of a water deficiency in the fruits’ development. They impart a grassy flavor when present in sufficient quantities and do not darken as much as others when roasting.

Grind Coffee maker
There is no single, universally adopted international grading and classification system for green coffee, although many countries defer to the protocols detailed by the Specialty Coffee Association of America Green Arabica Coffee Classification System (SCAA GACCS). This takes into account the correlation between cup quality and defective beans, but because of the vast number of factors that need to be taken into consideration it is still not a perfect system.
Although grading protocols vary among different countries, most take into account aspects of the following when determining the grade of a bean: its botanical variety, the region and the altitude in which the bean was grown, the method of processing, size, shape, color, density, defects, and cup quality.

Ebook how to make coffee

Rossella’s lasagne

Rossella’s lasagne is a great part of the Lidgate team, making pies and other dishes in our kitchen upstairs. Every summer she goes back to Naples, reappearing in the autumn and ready to weave her Italian magic once again. When we developed a lasagne recipe, we used her native expertise, and the result is richly layered with goodies. It’s very much a treat for supper with family or friends.

Rossella’s lasagne

 Serves 6–8
225g (8oz) dried lasagne sheets (12 standard sheets)
200g (7oz) medium-sliced ham, cut into thick strips
250g (8oz) mozzarella, cut into large dice
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

 For the meat sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g (1lb) lean minced beef
1 large carrot
2 medium onions
2 garlic cloves
1 x 400-g (14-oz) can tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato purée

1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper

 For the white sauce
80g (2¾ oz) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
80g (2¾ oz) plain flour
1 litre (1¾ pints) full-fat milk
¼ teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
sea salt flakes

First make the meat sauce. Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, brown the beef in it.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. When hot, add the carrot, onions and garlic and cook until soft.

Stir the tomatoes into the beef, scraping up the tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add this mixture to the vegetables. Stir in the tomato purée and oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly.

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Put all the ingredients into a pan and bring slowly to the boil, whisking as you do so to stop lumps forming. The sauce will thicken right at the end to make a thick coating consistency. Season with half a teaspoon of flaky sea salt.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 while you assemble the lasagne in a 20 x 30-cm (8 x 12-in) baking dish

Spread a quarter of the meat sauce over the base of the dish; cover with a third of the pasta, followed by a third of the white sauce, half the ham and a third of the mozzarella.

Cover with another quarter of the meat sauce, followed by another third of the pasta and a third of the white sauce.

Top with a quarter of the meat sauce, the remaining ham and another third of the mozzarella. Cover with the remaining pasta and white sauce.

Finally, spread the remaining meat sauce over the top, dot with the remaining mozzarella and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Rossella’s lasagne

Bake the lasagne for 1 hour, until patched with brown on top. Serve it with a sharply dressed green salad

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Chicken Curry in a HurryChicken Curry in a Hurry

Received a review copy of Mark Bitman Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times in the mail this week and thumbing through it found this recipe for a quick chicken curry. Are you familiar with Mark Bittman? He writes “The Minimalist” a syndicated recipe column for the New York Times. He tends to strip recipes down to their essentials (hence the “Minimalist”) and simplifies complicated recipes for the home cook. This chicken curry is a great example of a simple Bittman recipe – quick, tasty, filling. In addition to raisins (a suggested option that we loved), Bittman also recommends adding slivered almonds and a dash of chile pepper flakes. If you want to use yogurt instead of sour cream, just make sure that the yogurt sauce never simmers. If it does, it will curdle.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry Recipe


ingredients1 Tbsp corn, grapeseed, or olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced

1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder, or to taste

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)*

1 cup sour cream

Minced fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

*Some chicken breasts are bigger than others. We had two huge breast halves that added up to 1 1/2 pounds. To make them more serving sized, we sliced each half in half, horizontally, to make 4 breast pieces.


1 Put the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions (and optional raisins), sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, sprinkle with half of the curry powder, and continue to cook a minute or two.

2 Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle it with the remaining curry powder. Move the onion to one side of the skillet and add the chicken in one layer. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.

3 Add the sour cream and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is nice and thick. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook for a couple more minutes, or until cooked through, turning once.

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Garnish with cilantro or parsley and sev