So you've made the decision to buy a shade-grown specialty coffee. You go to the grocery store and buy a bag labeled "shade-grown". And you feel good because you're doin' the right thing, right? Well...not so fast.
Unfortunately, there is no standard for "shade-grown" so the term has been abused. Any coffee grower - ANY - can throw the term on a bag and get away with it. There is no policing of the "shade-grown" claim. So well-meaning consumers world-wide could pick up a bag labeled "shade-grown" but could very well be buying a predominantly sun-grown coffee, perhaps coated with pesticides and other chemicals that help coffee grow - and grow fast - in full sun.
But a trusted organization - the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center - has un-muddied the water by developing a trademarked Bird-Friendly® certification. When you see the Bird-Friendly seal, you can rest assured that the money you THINK is going to buy a specialty "shade-grown" coffee IS truly shade-grown.
The Bird-Friendly label means that an independent third-party has certified and verified for you that the coffee is from a producer whose coffee is grown in a manner that provides viable quality habitat for birds. The Bird-Friendly seal also means the coffee is certified organic.
From the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center site, here are just a few of the many benefits listed when you choose to drink Bird-Friendly coffee:
- The coffee tastes better because shade-coffee beans ripen more slowly, resulting in a richer flavor.
- Increased biodiversity.
- Healthy environments for workers and downstream communities.
- Protecting waterways and sources of drinking water.
- Reducing soil erosion.
- Eliminating pesticide and chemical fertilizer.
If you're reading my blog, most likely you have a passion for the birds. That passion we derive comes with a responsibility to protect the birds. We don't use chemicals in our yard. We keep our cats indoors. We provide food and water for the birds, as well as places of shelter to raise young. Now, take the next step to protect the birds you love: insist on a certified Bird-Friendly® coffee. Become familiar with the BIRD-FRIENDLY SEAL and make sure it is on that bag of shade-grown coffee you're buying!
Wild Birds Unlimited - Saratoga Springs NY is proud to carry certified Bird-Friendly Birds & Beans™ coffee. Birds & Beans is also available at a number of other Wild Birds Unlimited shops, through Mass Audubon, and online.