Bird Friendly Coffee

By Russ Schipper

As far as coffee refreshments go at ASK meetings, an apt description could be wrapped in a single word, “decaf,” and our wise and responsible Hospitality Committee reliably has good decaf coffee available. Now that coffee has gotten even better. For the past ten years, we have tried to offer a good shade-grown, fair-traded, and organic coffee, decaf of course. While there are a great number of companies offering coffee that they claim to be shade-grown and good for birds, there are a much smaller number of firms that actually meet the strictest criteria for shade-grown coffee. Please note that if you happen to be new to the “shade-grown coffee issue,” there are background articles available at our meetings; see me at the information table.

The organization that offers the gold standard for shade-grown coffee certification is the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Their trademarked “Bird Friendly” coffee essentially requires the growers to have their farms almost mimic native forest. A few of the requirements the growers must meet are to have at least ten species of trees of many different heights, to have at least 40% shade cover, to have more than a 10-meter buffer along waterways, to meet USDA Organic standards, and naturally it must be a fair-trade coffee where workers have a good working environment and are paid a fair wage. So you can rest assured that any coffee that has the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s “Bird Friendly” label is truly the best for birds, people, and the environment.

For years I have looked, without success, for a company that offered a decaf coffee that met the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s criteria. But just recently Kara Haas, Environmental Education Director at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, mentioned that Birds & Beans has a decaf with the Smithsonian’s “Bird Friendly” designation, AND, on top of that, she said they sell it at the sanctuary. They are doing the right thing. Consequently ASK is now serving the very best, very bird-friendliest coffee at our monthly meetings. Do come and try it out!

I certainly encourage all of you who want to do something for birds to purchase coffee with the Smithsonian’s “Bird Friendly” label.

More information is available on the internet.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center website address is: nationalzoo.si.edu/ConservationAndScience/MigratoryBirds/Coffee

The website address for Birds & Beans is: www.birdsandbeans.com.