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Safe Decaf, and Why Choose Shade-Grown Coffee

Safe Decaf, and Why Choose Shade-Grown Coffee

You can help protect migratory birds’ winter home habitat by buying coffee made from shade-grown beans.

Usually organic, the coffee comes from farms that use the traditional under-tree growing style, rather than the more recent, pesticide-intensive sun-grown method that destroys bird habitats. Shade-grown coffee provides habitats for migratory birds in Central and South America and Indonesia, as well as providing the fuller flavor of beans that have been slowly ripened.

There are four ways to decaffeinate coffee. Two methods use solvents, one of which is a carcinogen and small amounts of which will remain in the beans.

Guide to decaffeinated coffee

There are four ways to remove the caffeine from coffee.

One way is “Swiss water processed,” using pure water, and is the purest method available.

Two methods of decaffeination use the solvents methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. These are the two solvents that have been approved for use in the United States by the FDA. Methylene chloride is a carcinogen. Ethyl acetate doesn’t pose any risk to the consumer.

The fourth method of decaffeination is water and carbon dioxide.

If the label says “naturally decaffeinated” it will mean it was decaffeinated by either the Swiss water processed method, or the water and carbon dioxide method. The only way to find out which method was used is to call the company. Decaffeinated coffee manufactured in the United States is, for the most part, done through water processing.

Note: Avoid bleached filters, which may contain small amounts of dioxin. Buy unbleached coffee filters or a rusable gold filter instead.

Read more: Food, Green Kitchen Tips

By Annie B. Bond

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


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7:49PM PST on Dec 12, 2012

Thank you for this helpful information.

3:49AM PDT on Sep 27, 2012


9:08AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

I don't drink de-caf. I don't know if my coffee is shade grown. But, It is Arabica, usually.

10:38AM PDT on Aug 8, 2012


5:52PM PDT on Aug 3, 2012

Very good advice. I had no idea about decaf coffee possibly having carcinogens. Wow, thanks.

11:38AM PDT on Aug 3, 2012


11:32AM PDT on Aug 3, 2012


9:58PM PDT on Jul 16, 2010

I always buy organic fair trade coffee, and I try to get it shade grown as well- please consider Heifer Hope coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Roaster, or the Birders' Blend from Thanksgiving Coffee. I was amazed that shade grown coffee provides very good habitat for migrating birds.

10:40AM PDT on May 24, 2010

Thanks for the information!

I'm now going to find the best coffee that's Fair Trade, organic, shade-grown and water processed! Brewed in a French Press.

1:55PM PDT on Apr 21, 2009
is the address to an article in the Missouri Conservationist about a group that is working to preserve the natural habitat of birds in Central and Sout America! It mentions buying the shade grown coffee as well...some of you might enjoy reading this.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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