A Review of Ecosystem Services, Farmer Livelihoods, and Value Chains in Shade Coffee Agroecosystems

  • Shalene JhaEmail author
  • Christopher M. Bacon
  • Stacy M. Philpott
  • Robert A. Rice
  • V. Ernesto Méndez
  • Peter Läderach
Part of the Issues in Agroecology – Present Status and Future Prospectus book series (AGRO, volume 1)


Cultivation, processing, and consumption of coffee are dynamic processes that connect coffee farmers and agro-ecosystems with coffee drinkers spanning the globe. As a cash crop, coffee cultivation gained popularity in the Old and then the New world, and flourished under colonial regimes of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Coffee production patterns and management styles have changed ­drastically in the past two centuries and continue to shift, with the greatest recent expansions in East Asia. Traditionally, coffee is cultivated under a canopy of shade trees, a practice that ensures the longevity of the farm, supports biodiversity, and provides communities with a broad array of ecosystem services. However, many modern management schemes abandon shade practices. On the other hand, specialty coffee markets, like certified organic, certified shade (Bird Friendly), Fair Trade, and other certified coffees have gained recent popularity, though they still represent a small fraction of the global coffee economy. The global coffee economy is comprised of a wide array of coffee value chains that connect farmers with consumers, and thus impact farmer livelihoods at multiple spatial scales. Key players in the coffee value chain include local cooperatives, national government agencies, and global certification agencies. Similarly, ecosystem services provided by shade coffee occur at local, regional, and global scales, including pollination, erosion-control, and carbon sequestration, respectively. While the ecological and socio-economic costs and benefits associated with shade coffee are clear, this review reveals that there are many challenges to bridging sustainable coffee management with livelihood security. Furthermore, in this review we identify existing gaps in the literature and a number of promising research directions concerning the ecological and socio-economic impacts of coffee production.


Ecosystem Service Fair Trade Shade Tree Coffee Production Shade Coffee 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the editors and reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. We are especially grateful for Louise Jackson for several rounds of engaged, critical and constructive edits. We would also like to express our gratitude to the coffee farmers of Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Indonesia, and Costa Rica, for their support and permission to conduct research on their land. Christopher M. Bacon is grateful for support from the S.V. Ciriacy-Wantrup postdoctoral fellowship during the early phases of preparing this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shalene Jha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher M. Bacon
    • 2
  • Stacy M. Philpott
    • 3
  • Robert A. Rice
    • 4
  • V. Ernesto Méndez
    • 5
  • Peter Läderach
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Studies InstituteSanta Clara UniversitySanta ClaraUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA
  4. 4.Migratory Bird CenterSmithsonian Conservation Biology InstituteWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Environmental Program and Plant and Soil Science DepartmentUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  6. 6.Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)CaliColombia

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