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Cautious Caffeinating

If you caught our most recent Conservation Blog, you’re up to speed on the amazing roles birds play in our ecosystems, as well as our fantastic partner organizations helping to protect these winged MVPs. The conservation issues facing birds vary by region and species, but there’s one simple action almost anyone can take to help the world’s avian population. Hint: do you, or does someone close to you, drink coffee? My money is on the answer being yes.

Recent surveys suggest that around 74% of Americans drink coffee daily, with over 146 billion cups of coffee consumed yearly nationwide. These are big numbers, which becomes quite alarming when considering 75% of the world’s coffee is farmed with practices that are unsafe for birds, or that actively destroy forest habitats.

Coffee naturally grows best when shade-grown, or covered by a canopy of trees. Historically, these trees have provided a natural habitat for a wide variety of species, including birds. However, growing demand for coffee in the 1970s led to an increase in higher-yielding sun-grown coffee. Unfortunately, this resulted in heavy deforestation to clear-cut farms, imperiling avian ecosystems throughout coffee-rich areas.

Bird Friendly logoLuckily, Smithsonian scientists have made it easier than ever to select coffee that is not only shade-grown, but Bird Friendly-certified. The Bird-Friendly certification was created in the late 1990s to conservate migratory songbird habitats, and requires strict standards for foliage cover, tree height, and biodiversity to create quality habitats for birds and other wildlife. As a plus, Bird-Friendly coffee farms are 100% organic certified.

You can shop for Bird-Friendly coffee by keeping an eye out for the Bird-Friendly stamp, or by shopping directly on the Smithsonian website (you can find a retailer near you or links to buy online).

The positive takeaway is that there’s no need to sacrifice your morning joe in the name of bird conservation. Choosing Bird-Friendly coffee is a major win for birds, the environment, and for the farmers committed to more sustainable production practices. Caffeinate away! 


About Bird Friendly Coffee. Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. (n.d.).

Djordjevic, M. (2021, August 1). Coffee Statistics for 2021 – The Latest Data. Deals on Health.

Magas, A. (2021, February 24). WHAT IS SMITHSONIAN BIRD FRIENDLY COFFEE?. Ampersand Coffee Roasters.




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