Would You Destroy a Rainforest for a Cup of Joe?

Why Bird Friendly® coffee matters…

by Kaedence Eaton
Aug 22, 2014

Is there anything more luxurious than savoring a fresh cup of coffee on a cool morning in the wilderness? At home or in the woods, it’s a daily ritual shared by people all over the world. So many people, in fact, that it’s the second largest traded commodity after oil. That demand creates a massive environmental butterfly effect surrounding our beloved coffee that we can’t afford to ignore.

But what if I told you that we could actually choose just what that effect might be? What if we could make it something beautiful—something good for people, wildlife, and the planet? Well, that’s where Bird Friendly certified coffee comes in.

Designated by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), the Bird Friendly seal of approval is truly not just for the birds. The only 100 percent organic and shade-grown certification on the market, Bird Friendly coffee plantations are good for consumers, farmers, as well as native flora and fauna alike. This is one certification that packs a heck of a punch.

Coffee’s Impact on Critical Bio-regions

According to SMBC director and research scientist, Robert A. Rice, if you examined a world map highlighting some of the most critically diverse bio-regions of the world, along with the highest coffee producers in the world, the overlap would likely shock you. Coffee is not grown in a vacuum; in fact, it is frequently grown in the heart of critically diverse ecosystems essential to our global and local well-being. For example, Brazil produces 25 percent of the coffee beans consumed by Americans. And while the biggest issue isn’t that we’re the highest consumers of coffee in the world, it’s the fact that vastly critical swathes of the Amazon rainforest—prime coffee growing real estate—are rapidly disappearing. The Amazon is the lungs of the world. Not to mention, six of the top ten coffee producers, are based in the important bio-region of Latin America.

But what if coffee farmers in these critical regions had an opportunity and incentive to grow their crops in a way that not only empowered their personal lives, and improved their communities, but also supported the ecosystem that is so essential to the quality of life of the population worldwide? Could we protect the rainforest and wildlife they depend on to survive? With SMBC Bird Friendly coffee, we can.

Bird Friendly is Better

Crimson-Rumped Toucanet photoMany of us believe we are doing our part to support these critical communities by purchasing fair trade, and/or certified organic coffee. But industry experts such as Rice and former SMBC researcher and wildlife biologist John Sterling have this to say, “What if we told you that your certified fair trade organic coffee was being grown on a plantation that has been converted from pristine natural rainforest to a mono-cultural wasteland?” We may not feel so confident in our purchases in light of this all too common reality. Cheap marketing ploys such as the use of the words “shade grown” add to the confusion for many consumers, but Bird Friendly certified coffee clears away the confusion.

Bird Friendly is the only certification on the market that can guarantee your coffee beans are coming from a plantation that is not only 100 percent certified organic, but is also serving as a legitimate oasis for local wildlife, including the resources that can only be provided by a truly diverse and complex-layered canopy. And here’s the real kicker, because these certified farms typically produce a variety of crops, the farmers themselves fare better economically and personally—utilizing crops to diversify their income and meet their own needs for firewood, food, and even medicine.

Oh, and did we mention Bird Friendly, shade-grown coffee ripens more slowly, creating a richer fuller flavor? Now that’s a win-win-win that we can all get behind. So the next time you’re enjoying a fresh cup of coffee on the trail, or at home, give a nod to the birds, and make sure it’s SMBC Bird Friendly certified. It’s the only way to be certain you’re contributing to a beautiful future for coffee.

This article has been reposted with permission from The Eddy blog

Photo credit: Paul Joseph/Flickr (top)

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Coffee from all over the world and really competitive prices. The light peru roast had a really rich flavor and the atmosphere was nice!

Brianna, TripAdvisor