I never picked up the habit myself, despite threats like, "You will drink coffee when you need to pull an all-nighter in college" or "work the night shift at the hospital" or "survive vet school" or "hold down the emergency clinic over New Year's Eve weekend when the local puppy rescue has a parvo outbreak." I may be the only adult on the planet who doesn't know how to stand in line at Starbuck's and order a tall mocha frappuccino, a grande double shot espresso, or a venti latte half-caf no-foam, extra hot.
But, I know a lot of you like coffee, and a lot of you like birds and nature, too. And, if you do, you should be drinking shade grown coffee.
Let us backtrack. It used to be that coffee fincas (plantations) in Central America were practically nature preserves. Coffee, an understory plant, grew beneath the natural canopy of native trees and bushes, little or no chemicals were used during production, and the birds flourished. That included "our" birds, neotropical migrants like warblers, vireos, and tanagers that nest in North America and migrate south for the winter.
Now, things are different. Shade-grown coffee plants were replaced with sun-loving varieties, which required chemical fertilizers and pesticides for increased yield. Now, the native plants are stripped away, exposing the topsoil to erosion and sacrificing all that lovely bird habitat.
What's a caffeine-addicted birder to do? Why, drink shade-grown coffee, that's what. Bird-friendly, fair-trade, organic shade-grown coffees are becoming more widely available because of demanding eco-aware consumers. More than just buying and drinking it, promote shade-grown coffee at your local bird club meetings, nature centers, or specialty stores. Ask your favorite coffee shop to stock up on shade-grown coffee. And spread the word to others via your blogs by attaching the logo below to your site.
For more information on this topic, see Kenn Kaufman's article "Brew the Right Thing" in his Bird Watcher's Digest column "After the Spark," Jan/Feb 2009, and Paul Baicich's BWD article Nov/Dec. 2006. Or, go to Kenn and Kim's blog here, or to the Audubon Coffee Club via this link http://www.auduboncoffeeclub.com/
Cheryl Harner, of the Weedpicker's Journal, inspired this post.