Background/Question/Methods Coffee is an important agricultural system for Latin America, supporting millions of families and many national economies. Coffee agroecosystems are cultivated within biodiversity hotspots and– traditionally– under the shade of forests, making these habitats key for the conservation of biodiversity, as well as the sustenance of human livelihoods. Within these systems, a complex network of interactions maintains coffee pests in check, particularly the coffee berry borer, the most devastating insect pest for coffee. Shade-grown coffee systems are also labor intensive and rely on migrant labor throughout the year, particularly during the harvest season. Despite the value of their work, farmworkers are one of the most marginalized sectors in the coffee production chain. This work examines how the outcomes of biodiversity conservation in plantation-like shaded coffee agroecosystems have material and symbolic effects on the lives and labor experiences of migrant farmworkers. Understanding this conflict and socio-ecological entanglements is imperative as we transition to more sustainable agricultural systems and as we work towards improving social and environmental justice. Methodologically, I draw from political ecology, community ecology and ethnographic research. Results/Conclusions In this work I argue that despite the importance of biodiversity conservation and maintenance of shade, the life and labor experiences of farmworkers is at odds with biodiversity conservation and management. This conflict reveals social inequalities, vulnerabilities and marginalization, which are exacerbated by conservation narratives and eco-centric stories of the coffee farm. Finally, I provide some considerations to agroecological management, labor and biodiversity conservation.