3 Reasons You Should Flock To Bird Friendly Coffee

Feb 01, 2019


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Coffee runs through our veins at Oliver Russell. With lots to do and seemingly no time, we turn to a tasty dark brew to help us power through. From different roasts (everyone in our office has their opinions on dark roast vs. medium,) to certifications like USDA Organic and Fair Trade, there are several decisions that a conscious coffee consumer can make when purchasing their morning brew. 

The Smithsonian certification for “Bird Friendly” coffee is a lesser known standard, but the highest when it comes to protecting the planet against climate change and conserving migratory bird species.  

We learned about the importance of drinking Certified Bird Friendly coffee while working on a brand awareness campaign for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. It might be lesser known right now, but we're determined to change that.

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Go beyond organic or shade-grown with Bird Friendly

To earn Bird Friendly certification, farmers must grow their beans in what is considered “rustic” forest condition. “Rustic” means that the coffee plants are planted among underbrush and trees, and that very little of the natural ecosystem in which it grows is harmed by farming. This allows for the coffee to grow in a very biodiverse area, adding flavor to the coffee from the foliage and the animals and insects that live there. Most coffee – even organic or shade-grown – is grown by clear-cutting vital rainforest cover, live underbrush and many trees, in order to produce a higher yield. 

Here are three cardinal reasons you should think about buying these Bird Friendly beans, available online from a variety of retailers and many grocery stores, including Fred Meyer and Whole Foods.

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1. Better for the environment.

Coffee is often grown by destroying rainforest cover, which in turn displaces many endangered wildlife animals, including migratory birds. Bird Friendly coffee grows in a way that coexists with the animals and insects that live there. In the face of climate change, and the accelerating the impact of deforestation, anything consumers can do to mitigate the problem is a good thing. 

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2. Better for the people.

Workers still pick the coffee from the plant, but working conditions and worker rights vary considerably in Latin and South America. As the demand for coffee rises and the yield increases, working conditions sometimes get lower. Companies in Brazil have struggled to find coffee farmers who don’t abuse their labor. Certified Bird Friendly coffee must adhere to regulations on working conditions, just as they do on environmental ones.

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3. Better taste.

Coffee is divided into two species: arabica and robusta. Robusta is a lower grade coffee that can withstand more harsh weather conditions – it’s this strain that’s used when producing coffee in high yields. Arabica is robusta’s higher class sister that thrives in the shaded growing conditions that support Bird Friendly coffee. Arabica beans tend to be sweeter, more fruity, and slightly acidic, while robusta has a stronger and harsher taste.  

As the impact of climate change worsens and populations of migratory birds continue to decrease due to deforestation, consumers have the power to make a choice at the grocery store. When you choose to purchase Bird Friendly coffee beans – and a wide variety of other products – that are made sustainably by companies striving to do good, it really does make a difference.