Not all Specialty coffee is Earth friendly but for the most part it is much more likely to be Earth friendly than large quantity commercial (many National Brands) coffees. Specialty coffee is grown to intentionally achieve a higher grade and better taste than the average which reduces the relative quantity that can be produced (as your standard rises quantity falls). Specialty coffee thanks to it's growing demand and Gourmet taste adventurous culture is also more likely to come from small Growers and exotic Counties of Origin.
So, just how does all this benefit good old Mother Earth!
Coffee can be a rather fragile plant, it becomes stressed if exposed to too much sun or not enough moisture and then will produce less fruit of lower quality.
However we know the more sun and nutrients a plant gets the faster it produces fruit, coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee cherry fruit.
To increase the quantity grown and reduce costs they simply cut down the forest, flatten the Earth, plant less tasty but more hardy varieties in straight rows so they can knock the fruit off the bush with a machine, and use fertilizers and pesticides. They can get a harvest in 6 months rather than about 9 months the natural way, that's 2 harvests per year vs one.
Naturally coffee prospers at very high altitudes where the sun is semi blocked by clouds or fog, temperatures are moderate, and often under the shade of taller trees. Forests and fruit groves provide an excellent environment for coffee if your main concern is flavor; trees provide shade that slows the fruit growth to allow richer flavors to develop, droppings from large trees and birds provide natural nutrients, birds and other animals provide natural pest control (they eat bugs). Small Growers and exotic Countries of Origin simply may not have the means to buy modern fertilizers and pesticides, or machines to do the work.
Specialty coffee Growers in their pursuit of flavor want the fruit to develop slowly, will maintain Heirloom varieties for taste, must pick the fruit by hand only when ripe at the peak of its' flavor. Coffee you buy in a coffee shop or from a Specialty Green coffee site (ok that would be us) is more likely to be Earth Friendly, we care about taste and the Earth that gives us this delightful drink.