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Bird Friendly Coffee - What is It?
What is Bird Friendly Coffee or Shade Grown Coffee?
Bird friendly coffee is coffee grown on
farms under a shade-tree canopy, forest-like habitat.
Bird friendly coffee mostly benefits neotropical migratory songbirds that winter in Central
American rainforests. Habitat loss, especially tropical rainforests, have caused
a decline in migratory songbird populations. And sun coffee plantations have
contributed to this loss.
Bird Friendly and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center:
We have been speaking in the general sense that "bird friendly coffee" is any
coffee grown on shaded farms. But actually the phrase,
"Bird Friendly®" has been trade-marked by the Smithsonian Migratory
of the National Zoo. Coffees with this logo mean that they are certified as
shade grown and organic by an independent third-party inspector using the
Smithsonian's criteria. And Bird Friendly® coffees
contribute 25 cents per pound to support Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center
research and conservation programs.
Where to buy Bird Friendly® Coffee - Use the Smithsonian search form to
search by state for
coffees on the market that are certified as 100% shade-grown and organic,
meaning that they are grown without the use of chemical pesticides that poison
Historically, coffee was originally grown under shade. These coffee plant
were sun-intolerant, requiring shade. But in 1972, new hybrid, sun-tolerant
coffee varieties were developed that yielded 2-3x more coffee beans than shade
grown varieties. More coffee = more $$ = clearcutting shade farms and rainforest
Of the 6 million acres of coffee lands, 60% have been stripped of
shade trees since 1972.
So essentially sustainable, shade grown coffee farms maintain an alternative, forested habitat
for songbirds. Shaded coffee farms are not replicas of natural rainforest
habitat, but do provide food, water and shelter that these birds otherwise
wouldn't have, especially in clearcut sun coffee farms.
In fact, shade coffee farms support over 150 species of birds which far exceeds
sun coffee plantations. These shade farms also benefit other animals and plants
in addition to songbirds.
Shade Grown Coffee vs Sun Grown Coffee
Shade Grown Coffee
Sun Grown Coffee
Historical, traditional, sustainable method of farming
preserves tree-canopy habitat for songbirds and other animals
Crop requires full sun, resulting in clearcutting of
rainforest habitat causing soil erosion and depletion;
Usually organically grown, free of chemical applications
Requires chemical fertilizers, pesticides
Better taste - beans mature more slowly in shade allowing
the natural sugars to fully develop, creating a rich, intense flavor
Sun-grown hybrid coffees produce higher yields, but do not
taste nearly as good as shade-grown coffee
Birds help with Pest Management in Coffee Plantations:
The coffee berry borer is estimated to do a half billion dollars worth of damage
to coffee crops every year. Farmers are now realizing the benefit of
insect-eating birds. For example, in Jamaica it is estimated that warblers can
reduce damage by $237 an acre to prized Jamaican Blue Coffee and other high
mountain crops. Another score for the birds!
Drink bird friendly coffee and create songbird habitat...An even better way to
start your mornings!