The Backyard

The Backyard

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Low Down on Organic Coffee

For several years, I've been buying organic coffee (its one of my "exceptions" to buying local), "to save the birds." Translated, I want the birdies - in particular the hummingbirds and bobolinks (a.k.a. neotropical migrants) - to come back to Central Pennsylvania each year to nest and raise their young. Hummingbirds migrate to Central America while the Bobolinks travel about 7,000 miles to Argentina and Chile' each year. Birds are an integral part of an organic garden in many ways with insect control and pollination topping the list. Buying organic, shade-grown coffee guarantees their return because typically organic coffee is shade grown and no forest destruction occurs as it does for sun-grown coffee (the "normal" coffee plantations) - at least that's what I believed, or in this case, knew. It actually goes deeper than just "organic" coffee. If you live in Northeast America and your goal is to have the neotropical birdies come back each year, then you want to stick to South or Central American Coffee, which is the home of most of the migratory birds in PA. I hadn't really thought that through when I purchased my Sumatran coffee because "it smells and tastes good." Doh! Like the birds in Pennsylvania migrate to and from Indonesia. Boy am I dumb. Jeff Cox, wrote an interesting organic coffee article and he clearly describes this. My dear Bobolinks are indebted to Jeff! And here's a good article on migratory birds and Bird-friendly coffee. And where to find it and be guaranteed it bird friendly? You can start your search at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Institute, but google local roasters in your area also. National Audubon Society provides a convenient monthly coffee club so you don't have to reorder -- it comes to you automatically so its one less thing to keep track of. Green Mountain Coffee also has a monthly recurring order, but their National Wildlife Organic Coffee isn't certified by the Smithsonian (but guarantee bird-friendly).


Anonymous said...

I'm always impressed by the resources you find, they are so useful! While I don't drink coffee myself, I have forwarded the link to this page to several of my friends who do and who have been skirting around the fair trade/organic coffee issues, but haven't had the info or resources to jump in.
I do love birds (somehow identifying their sounds is hard, but I love looking for pictures of the ones local to my area, and those who migrate here) and your post I think speaks to people on both the birding and the coffee drinking sides of the coin.

fullfreezer said...

Great post. Thanks for the information. I am a coffee drinker. We try to buy fair-trade, organic coffee bit I hadn't considered the migratory bird aspect. I'll have to try to focus more on South/Central American coffee.