Bird Friendly Coffee in London

Bird Friendly Coffee

Land used for growing coffee can also provide habitat for birds. Image source

What is Bird Friendly coffee? 

  • Many of the migratory bird species that can be found in London for parts of the year migrate to Central and South America in the winter, where they depend on habitat that is depleted by intensive agriculture. Some of the birds that are commonly found on coffee plantations include Baltimore Oriole, Black-and-white Warbler, Magnolia  Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush, Blue-gray gnatcatcher, American Redstart, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush; and species of conservation concern such as Canada Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Olive-sided Flycatcher.

  • Most large scale coffee farming is done under full sun with acres and acres of monocultures grown using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. This is not sustainable farming and does little to support habitat for migratory birds.

  • One of the easiest ways to support international conservation of bird habitat is to replace your current coffee choice with Bird Friendly coffee, which is grown using practices that aim to conserve habitat for birds.

What about other coffee certifications and labels? 

The labels on coffee packaging can be confusing. Below is a brief summary of some of the terms you may encounter.

  • Shade-grown coffee is an unregulated designation which can mean anything from a few sparse trees to a diverse forest structure. The name derives from tall trees being preserved and casting shade on land used for growing coffee. Some shade grown organic coffee may be farmed in a bird friendly manner, but with no certification or regulation it is impossible to know. 

  • Fair Trade coffee ensures that the farmers and workers get paid a fair price for the product they grow.  Fair trade coffee does include some environmental protections and farmers who grow organically are paid a premium for their product.  It does not mandate this or the amount of forest cover.

  • Organic coffee is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but has no standard for the amount of canopy cover on land used for coffee growing. Organic coffee is generally grown in shade due to the plant's requirements. However, without a standard for canopy cover, the shade may be provided by non-native, heavily pruned trees that do not provide much habitat for birds.  

  • Rainforest Alliance standard is not as stringent as bird-friendly coffee, but a large percentage of the coffee farms maintain shade cover, and the standard promotes maintaining forests in reserves and along waterways. Where forest cover is non-native, thirty percent or greater is required to be set aside for conservation.

  • Bird Friendly coffee is shade grown, organic coffee that has been certified by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. While it is not necessarily Fair Trade, certified farmers do receive a premium for this product. In order to be certified, farmers must meet many criteria including using native trees and shrubs and maintaining at least 40 percent canopy cover. Certification is important for ensuring the quality of habitat meets a rigorous standard. If your goal is to support migratory bird habitat on coffee farms, this is the gold standard. 

Where to buy bird friendly coffee in London 

There are currently three roasters in Canada offering certified Bird Friendly coffee, and many other retailers offer Bird Friendly coffees roasted in the United States. You may browse all available brands of Bird Friendly coffee here.

Order Canadian Bird Friendly coffee online

  • Birds and Beans - arrives 1 to 2 days, great variety, compostable packaging

  • Balzac's Atwood blend - $1 of each purchase goes to Pelee Island Bird Observatory

  • Cafe Bird Friendly - based in Quebec, supports various environmental non-profit organizations including the Bird Friendly City program by Nature Canada.

Purchase in-store

Note that this list is not exhaustive and there may be other retailers that also sell these products.

What you can do
Buy bird friendly coffee whenever you can and ask retailers and your favourite coffee shop to stock these products.  Spread the word to family and friends about this: it’s a small lifestyle change that can help conserve migratory birds on an international scale

More information about bird friendly coffee