Have you ever bought a loaf of bread labeled "whole wheat" and found in looking further that whole wheat was way down the ingredient list? So how do we know what we're getting when we buy a bag of "shade grown" coffee?
With no regulations for what can be labeled "shade grown", coffee companies and well-intentioned conservation organizations are at liberty to use the label on coffee that may have been grown in conditions that don't quite achieve the shade-grown goal of protecting the habitat of neotropical birds and other wildlife.
Fortunately, a trusted organization - the Smithsonian Institute, through their Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) - has developed a "Bird Friendly®" certification. Coffee farms seeking certification are subject to an independent, third-party inspection, so when you see the Bird Friendly certification, you can be sure you are buying coffee that is 100% USDA ORGANIC and 100% SHADE-GROWN.
According to SMBC's website, "Bird Friendly® (BF) refers to organic certified coffee grown on farms with a shade cover that provides substantial habitat for migratory and resident birds in tropical landscapes."
The Bird Friendly criteria places many requirements on the grower, including height of the tree canopy, foliage cover, tree & shrub diversity, as well as numerous other criteria. Follow this link to a Quick Reference Guide to all of Smithsonian's Bird Friendly Certification Criteria.
You'll find that Bird Friendly coffee tastes better too. Shade-grown coffee takes longer to grow, producing what many feel (me included) is a richer, true coffee taste.
Beside benefiting the birds, coffee plantations that produce shade-grown organic coffee are also healthier environments for workers and their communities. Many Bird Friendly certified coffees are certified Fair Trade.
Wild Birds Unlimited - Saratoga Springs NY carries Birds & Beans™ brand coffee that is certified Bird Friendly. We are proud to have been the first retailer in the entire state of New York state to carry it. We were also the first WBU store to carry the Birds & Beans brand and have been recently joined by Wild Birds Unlimited - Ft. Collins CO, which now carries Birds & Beans as well.
Here's what you'll find in WBU-Saratoga's Coffee Corner. We have brewed coffee for sampling every weekend. If you can't stop in to see us in Saratoga, here's how to find Bird Friendly coffee in your area.
Companies that sell and distribute coffee with the "Bird Friendly®" seal of approval contribute 25 cents per pound to support the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC)'s research and conservation programs.
Be sure you're getting REAL shade-grown coffee by looking for and insisting on shade-grown coffee with Smithsonian's Bird Friendly certification. You'll find that certification proudly displayed on Birds & Beans brand coffee.
Ask for it - create a demand for it!