The high forests in southwest Ethiopia, some of the last remaining Afromontane forests in the country, are home to significant forest coffee production. While considered as beneficial in maintaining forests, there have been growing concerns about the degradation caused by intensive management for coffee production in these forests. However, no suitable methods have been developed to map the coffee forests. In this study, we developed a tie-point approach to consistently estimate the degree of degradation caused by intensive management by combining use of Landsat imagery with in-situ canopy cover and tree survey data. Our results demonstrate a clear distinction between undisturbed natural forest and heavily managed coffee forest due to changes in forest structure and canopy cover caused by intensive management in the coffee forest. Temporal analysis of 32 years of Landsat imagery reveals a progressive and significant transition in the level of degradation in the coffee forest over this period. This is the first time to our knowledge, that this progressive intensification of coffee forest has been measured. There is a major intensification in the mid-1990s, which follows the introduction of new liberal economic policies by the Federal government established in 1991, rising coffee prices, and changes in state control over access to the forest. The question remains as to how these 20 years of intensive management in coffee forest have affected forest biodiversity and, more importantly, how canopy trees in this forest can be regenerated in the future. This study provides potential satellite-based mapping and ground-based photography and tree survey methods to help investigate the impacts of intensive management within coffee forest on biodiversity and regeneration.