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6 Reasons You Should Be Drinking “Bird-Friendly” Coffee

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4. It Guarantees Fair, Stable Prices for Even the Smallest of Coffee Producers

Yes, bird-friendly coffee costs more than your run of the mill canister of Chock Full O’ Nuts or Folgers. There’s a reason for that.

Coffee that’s grown in the shade ripens more slowly than sun-grown coffee. Obviously, that means if a farmer cuts down his trees and commits to growing in the sun, he’ll wind up with more beans to sell in a shorter period of time than his shade-grown competitor.

To encourage coffee growers not to cut down forests to increase their yields, they need an economic incentive. Getting a premium price for their independently certified shade-grown coffee keeps growers happy and trees in place.

The promise of a premium price also provides the motivation for a farmer to jump through the difficult hoops leading to certification.

Bird-friendly certification ensures access to markets for all coffee growers, no matter how large or small their farm may be. In addition, says the SMBC, certification paves the way for access to credit for those using sustainable technologies. It also enables adequate wages, housing and health care for workers.

5. Its Getting Easier to Find

Until recently, it was a real challenge to find bird-friendly coffee. Ordering it online was often the only option available. Good online sources still abound, of course, but these days you can often find what you’re looking for a lot closer to home.

For those near a Whole Foods, look no further. Whole Foods has over 300 stores nationwide, and as of June 2013 they all carry “Early Bird Blend” from Allegro Coffee. This coffee comes from “Bird-Friendly” certified farms in Mexico and Nicaragua.

If there’s no Whole Foods near you, check out the SMBC’s web site. It has a search tool to locate retailers, roasters and importers near you.

6. It Costs Less Than You Might Think

‘[P]er pound we’re about the same as Starbucks or other specialty coffees,” Bill Wilson, co-founder of Canada’s Birds and Beans coffee roaster, told the Wheaton Patch. “Compared to Folgers or Maxwell House, we’re more expensive.”

Bird-friendly coffee is also a less expensive choice than Keurig K-cups, according to Wilson. He says a single serving K-Cup ends up costing about a dollar, while bird-friendly coffee costs about 30 cents per cup.

Bird ecologist Julie Craves of Coffee and Conservation agrees. She says on that website:

Most of the specialty coffee that is reviewed [on Coffee and Conservation] costs in the range of $9.95 to $14.95 for a 12-ounce bag. That works out to $0.32 to $0.48 a cup. A pound of coffee from Caribou or Starbucks runs about $13 a pound, or $0.32 a cup. This is at least six times cheaper than a couple of shots of decent scotch or a glass of wine from a $15 bottle, not to mention less than the cost of a cup of (unsustainable) coffee at McDonald’s or Dunkin Donuts.

Convinced? Those birds you love to watch flitting about your yard certainly hope so. Their future may depend on the choices you make, including your coffee.

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Photo Credits: ARALCAL by julian londono via photopin Creative Commons, Thinkstock

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115 comments

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1:35PM PDT on Jul 31, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

3:44AM PDT on May 6, 2014

Thank you

4:11AM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

Thank you

3:43PM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Thanks for the info.

10:43AM PST on Dec 6, 2013

Anais A., you make a good point, but the fact remains that coffee will continue to be grown, because the world is addicted to it, and most coffee-growing countries need the income. At this time, the choice is between destruction of some of the trees and clear-cutting combined with the massive use of poisonous pesticides.
Which would you choose?

10:26AM PST on Dec 6, 2013

"Bird-friendly coffee" is an oxymoron. Native trees still have to be cut down and removed to make way for the coffee plantation. Native trees have multiple benefits over coffee plants, which are essentially just cultivated bushes. Coffee is native to Ethiopia, not South America. Companies are always trying to show how "sustainable" their products are but their only real concern is the bottom line.

7:22AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

Betty K., I expect that Columbian coffee is grown in a number of different ways. I think that the only way you could tell if a particular brand/type is bird-friendly would be to look for the Smithsonian certification sticker or look it up at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/coffee/search.cfm

William K., I'm curious - why don't you drink South American coffee?

10:37PM PST on Nov 20, 2013

How is Colombian coffee grown?

9:46AM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Good to know, sharing!

12:06AM PST on Nov 10, 2013

I just drink one cup of coffee on work mornings only, so I will pay a little more for good quality, fair trade and bird friendly. It seems that when I shop now, I spend most of my time reading labels. It isn't easy finding "bird friendly" now, but hopefully more brands will become bird friendly.

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