Frequently asked questions
Is coffee actually seriously threatened by climate change?


There’s a scientific consensus that by 2050, between 50% and 80% of the land that’s currently planted with Arabica coffee will be unfarmable due to factors like droughts, pests, and higher temperatures.

The problem has been well documented in publications like Time MagazineThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Even industry giants like Starbucks are taking notice. For Starbucks, and for the coffee community as a whole, climate change is an existential threat. 

Does Leafup sell coffee?

No, we do not.

We do have relationships with cooperatives, farmers, and importers. If you are a roaster that is interested in working with one of our partners please email us at

How does reforesting coffee farms fit into the larger fight against climate change?

In short, it’s a necessary piece of the puzzle. Project Drawdown -- a leading source of economically smart climate solutions -- has laid out a viable strategy to achieve drawdown -- the state where we are capturing more carbon than we are producing.

For it to work, every solution needs to happen at the same time. We need wind turbines and electric cars. We need less meat consumption. We need to fly less. According to Project Drawdown, we also need shade coffee.

Converting all of coffee to shade coffee, or what they call “multi strata agroforestry,” would have approximately the same impact as making 25% of all cars on the road electric.

It’s that huge. LeafUp gives members of the coffee industry the opportunity to do its part.

How much carbon does a shade coffee farm store?

Depending on tree type and tree density, this number can vary fairly substantially. For example, at high altitudes, farmers might plant just 50 trees per hectare, and at lower, hotter altitudes, up to 500 trees per hectare.

In general, one tree captures about a tonne of carbon over a 40 year period, so for a low lying, high density, 1 hectare coffee farm we might expect carbon capture of 500 tonnes over a 40 year period.

It's important to note that there is a lot of variability in these estimates, and that there is ongoing academic research to more precisely quantify coffee agroforestry carbon capture.

What is undeniable is that overall, agroforestry is a key piece in the fight against climate change. Project Drawdown lists it as a top climate solution with the potential for between 11.3 and 20.4 Gigatons of carbon capture, and a net savings of between $1.75–3.02 USD.

Will planting trees really protect coffee?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! 

We didn’t come up with this idea.  Study after study has shown that shade coffee is more resilient to climate change, improves biodiversity and soil health, and when done correctly can be more profitable for farmers.   

The Specialty Coffee Association, the world’s leading coffee trade group, recently released a climate change report urging the industry to support the development and uptake of climate smart agricultural practices like agroforestry.   
Trees can protect coffee, but only when planted correctly. 

We work with our panel of experts and agronomists on the ground to ensure that our planting efforts bring the most possible value to farmers and the planet.

How does Leafup work with farmers? 

Leafup reaches out to farmers both directly and through cooperatives.

We then contact the farmers directly via WhatsApp and assess the correct number of shade trees needed on their farm.

Once the project is done we pay the farmers a living wage for the entire project.

Leafup then has a 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year official check in for the trees but we have consistent dialog with many of our farmers once a month.

Many farmers have been burned in the past and we strive to create long lasting relationships with each of them.

How does Leafup work with coffee shops and roasters?

Leafup allows coffee shops and roasters to become 100% carbon neutral by working directly with the farmers that make it all possible.

We also provide content and marketing material that gives an on the ground account of the amazing projects that you will be facilitating.

If you have any questions please email us at

If you plant a tree how long does it take to produce shade? 

Technically trees start creating shade right away.

That being said it does take them some time to get tall enough to actually provide enough shade for the coffee plants.

Most shade systems begin to have an important impact on the coffee after 5-10 years, and reach maturity after 15-20 years.

Where do satellites and AI come into play?

Planting trees is the easy part keeping them alive is the challenge.
We have to go one step further and measure the carbon captured, and understand how the ecosystem is bing affected. 
Leafup uses ML and satellite data to observe our farms from above, which allows us to monitor changes in the landscape and tree canopy over time.  

For an in depth look at how Leafup is leveraging these technologies, check out this article on us in the Data Driven Investor publication. 

How much does it cost to plant each tree?

LeafUp's partners pay $5/tree. This covers the cost of the tree itself, LeafUp's operational costs, and most importantly, paying a coffee farmer a living wage to do the work of planting.

We're constantly working to drive down costs in terms of tree cultivation and purchase, but are not willing to sacrifice a fair wage to farmers.