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To contribute to understanding the socio-economic impact of shade trees and the returns fromrobusta coffee farming systems, this study compared the financial profitability of shaded coffee fields which are dependent on nutrient cycling to sustain production (traditional system) and shaded coffee fields where compost manure are applied, under small-scale farmer conditions. It also analysed the contribution of shade trees to the overall profitability of robusta coffee farming in central Uganda. The study revealed that shaded coffee yielded substantial returns from shade tree products,amounting to 53.3 and 42.5 % of the gross annual income in traditional and compost coffee options respectively. Although the mean coffee productivity per acre from coffee fields with compost manure (748 kg acre-1 yr-1) and traditional low input (486 kg acre-1 yr-1) were significantly different (p-value < 0.05), the difference in net present values was small due to the higher annual maintenance costs in the compost option. The discounted cash flow at 10% real discount rate indicated that the net present values of the traditional and compost options were (US$4927 acre-1) and (US$5607 acre-1) respectively, considering exclusive use of family labour. Profitability of the coffee agroforestry system can be significantly improved by increasing coffee stocking density from the current average (340 coffee trees acre-1) to the recommended stocking density of 450 coffee trees acre-1 and by farmers providing own manure instead of buying.