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Why bird-friendly coffee makes a great holiday gift

ROYAL FLYCATCHER: The insect-eater relies on coffee-growing regions of Central and South America. Photo courtesy of Fundación ProAves.
ROYAL FLYCATCHER: The insect-eater relies on coffee-growing regions of Central and South America. Photo courtesy of Fundación ProAves.

If you are looking for that perfect gift that almost every adult on your list will enjoy — one that is wallet-friendly and that reflects some level of deeper thought — then look no further than bird-friendly coffee.

bird-friendly-coffee_165x165Who doesn’t like coffee? Not many people, it would seem. More than 500 billion cups are consumed annually. Contributing Editor Julie Craves told the back story in “The True Cost of Coffee,” an article published in the February 2013 issue of this magazine: Increased demand has pushed coffee farmers in developing countries to devise and implement techniques to increase their yield.

Popular choices include moving to full-sun coffee, which requires using more and more chemicals (over five billion pounds worldwide) and clear-cutting the trees that have historically provided bird habitat and conditions for growing better-quality (but lower-yield) coffee in Central and South American countries.

Study: The area devoted to shade-coffee cultivation declined between 1996 and 2010.

So what is bird-friendly coffee and why should you buy it? Many types of coffee claim to be friendly for birds, but the one we prefer is Smithsonian-certified Bird-Friendly® Coffee. It is the only 100-percent organic, shade-grown coffee. What that means, among other things, is that no pesticides or chemical fertilizers have been used for three years, and the coffee was produced on land that has more than 40 percent foliage cover and a diverse “forest structure.” The diversity of trees supports a diversity of birds.

And the taste? It doesn’t just taste good; it tastes great. We know that true coffee lovers will appreciate it.


Giving shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee as a gift is more than a symbolic gesture. It preserves trees, saves birds, and keeps farmers in business. The bottom line is that shade coffee farms are essential to the future of our Neotropical migrants. There is no easier way for people who love birds to help the environment than this. Holiday deals are available. Give it a shot.

A version of this article appeared in the December 2014 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.



This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.

Learn more about Smithsonian’s Bird-Friendly® Coffee.

You can find Smithsonian-certified coffee at Birds & Beans and Caffe Ibis.

Read Julie Craves’s article “The True Cost of Coffee.”



Originally Published

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