We must commend The Guardian for their excellent article on sustainable coffee entitled "Carbon cafe: what is the most sustainable coffee order?" as follows:
"The biggest consideration in any coffee purchase – whether it’s at home or at a cafe – is how the beans are grown. “Coffee cultivation covers a broader range of cultivation methods and, hence level of environmental impact, than almost any other crop in the world,” says sustainability expert Aaron Gove from Astron Environmental Services in Perth.
Traditional methods that use shaded plantations and waterway buffering to cultivate coffee beans have the gentlest footprint and foster rich ecological biodiversity. At the other end of the spectrum, monocrops grown in sunlight to increase yield result in deforestation, reduced biodiversity and use of diesel-guzzling machinery, fertilisers and pesticides.
Gove therefore recommends looking for eco-friendly labels as certification programs have proven successful in promoting shade coffee plantations and forest conservation. Two key labels are Australian Certified Organic and Rainforest Alliance. However the latter’s standards have become less strict, and the best guarantee of sustainable coffee is now the Bird Friendly certification. Unfortunately this classification is not used in Australia, but some suppliers, such as BunCoffee and Cafe Britt, do source “shade-grown” beans, not certified bird friendly, but at least you know the tree habitats aren’t destroyed."