Bird Friendly Coffee For All You Coffee Lovers

by Larry Jordan on February 28, 2008

I just read this great article on Will Taft’s blog at:Coffee beans

He writes “Recently, when reaching for the organic beans, I noticed a big “Bird Friendly” label on the bag. I thought “Oh that’s cool”, but did not have any idea what it really meant. I had read about the importance of supporting economically and environmentally sustainable coffee producers and importers, and when the choice is available, I will always choose organic food, but this was the first time I had heard of “bird friendly” coffee.”

I am going to do some research and find some bird friendly coffee in my area!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan February 29, 2008 at 9:53 am

Shade Grown:

is the traditional way of making coffee. It’s a winner all around.

The world is better with more trees in it.
Sustainable means doing things in ways that you can continue into the future. Cutting down trees to grow all our crops is not sustainable.

Not only do trees literally give us a breath of fresh air by turning carbon dioxide into oxygen — but they also provide homes for all kinds of animals, most notably birds. And if we didn’t have birds, we’d be overrun with insects, and life would be like some kind of weird horror film.

Made in the shade.
Shade-growing is the traditional way of growing coffee. Giant coffee estates like to chop down trees and grow in open sunlight because it increases their yields — but it does not make better coffee. The fact is, shade-grown coffee has a much better taste profile.
Ethiopian family farmers who cultivate shade-grown coffee.
This Ethiopian family grows coffee in the forest surrounding their home.
Plus, shade-growing provides a home for the birds. The birds do their part by eating pests that could otherwise compromise the crop.

Wow, what a system. It’s sounds like, uh, nature.


Will March 14, 2008 at 10:44 am

Hi Birdman! Thanks for the write up and link. I am a bit behind in my follow ups etc. because of all the work associated with my recent hosting change. I am about 70% through with all the follow up work linking back to old images etc. I needed to move because of increased traffic and a need for more server space, so now that it is done, things work much better. This time I am doing all the back end stuff the right way so any future changes will be easier. Plan ahead! You never know when the Digg or Stumble effect might hit and increase your readers by 1000%.

As to the coffee. I was surprised at how many contact emails I got from the post as it did not generate a lot of comments. Even now, months later it sometimes gets 2 or 3 hundred readers a day. The trick is to find a source for coffee with the Smithsonian label. If you find that then you have the better tasting shade grown coffee Jonathan describes above, organic coffee, and coffee that dos not contribute to the stress on populations of migratory birds. Win, Win, Win!

And yes, Jonathan, the systems nature put in place are often better than the ones we humans have the arrogance to supplant them with. The argument is often made that the human systems provide less expensive food. I think the hidden costs are often overlooked. We pay one way or another in the end.


Larry March 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm

You guys are exactly right. Nature is a balance and we need to do everything we can to keep that balance. Twenty percent of the worlds pesticides are used in the USA. That’s 1.2 Billion (with a “B”) pounds a year!

Drinking shade grown coffee is one of the things we coffee drinkers can do to help the forests and the birds. To learn about all the benefits of shade grown coffee and where you an purchase it go here:


Larry July 14, 2008 at 6:47 am

Here is a comment from July posted on Will’s page:

Author: Julie
I’m an ecologist that writes a blog all about sustainable coffee, so perhaps I can answer George’s question.

For a coffee to get Smithsonian’s Bird-Friendly certification, it must also be certified organic. Farmers get a price premium for the organic certification, and often also get a price premium for the Bird-Friendly certification. Some of these coffees may also be Fair Trade certified, some may not. This might be due to a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Fair Trade certification is only available to cooperatives — individual small farmers or even larger family-owned estates do not qualify.

Smithsonian Bird-Friendly has the best and most stringent environmental criteria, but is also the smallest certifier. Still, if you know what to look for you can find sustainable (eco-friendly and providing a good living for farmers). I have a post providing some tips:

And a whole lot more about these issues! Thanks for bringing this to the attention of people!

Julies last blog post..What is the market share of eco-certified coffee?


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