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Bird-friendly Coffee: If Bird Watchers Did Their Part

Over 50% of Americans over 18 years of age (roughly 112 million) drink coffee every day. They consume an average of 3 cups per day, or 90 cups per person per month.

Assuming each cup contains 0.36 oz of coffee, the average drinker consumes 32.4 oz, or roughly 2 pounds, of coffee per month.

The vast majority of that coffee is mass produced on sun plantations where trees are destroyed to make way for fast-growing, high-yield (but poorer tasting) coffee plants.

Now enter the bird watcher.  There are 48 million of us in the United States (USFWS 2009 Birder's Report). If we estimate that 50% of us drink coffee, then 24 million birders consume an average of 2 lbs of coffee per month.

That's 48 million pounds of coffee every month consumed just by bird-friendly folk!

Now, according to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Birds & Beans Coffee, consuming a pound per month of certified bird-friendly coffee supports 1,750 sq ft of shade coffee habitat.

Therefore, if readers of this blog switched over to certified bird-friendly coffee, we'd EACH be supporting (and therefore preserving) up to 3,500 sq ft, or just less than one-tenth of an acre, of bird-friendly habitat.

Think about that. One month of average coffee drinking can drive demand for about one-tenth an acre of bird-friendly land AND reduce demand for coffee grown on sun plantations.

So if you carry that thought a bit farther, about ten of us coffee drinkers can support an acre of land. How many birds do you think can live in an acre of bird-friendly habitat in the tropics?

Right now, there are only 14,000 acres of certified bird-friendly farms in the world (Julie Craves, personal communication). This certification has the most rigorous ecological standards of any certification on the market. But with roughly 24 million coffee-drinking birders, our potential to influence more coffee growers to adopt more sustainable and bird-friendly practices is ENORMOUS.

Let's use it!

I was late to the party and recently made the switch to a certified bird-friendly brand. Now, the party is in full swing, and now I'm inviting EVERY ABA member to join the fun.

Are you drinking bird-friendly coffee yet?

If not, what are you waiting for? Your choices matter.



Coffee & Conservation by Julie Craves. An outstanding resource collective for responsible coffee drinkers. Many thanks to Julie for championing this important issue, and for her helpful suggestions on this post.

A Primer on Choosing Coffee That Supports Sustainable Practices by Robert A. Rice.  All shade coffee is not created equal. Please understand the differences between certified Bird-Friendly, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, USDA Certified Organic, C.A.F.E, or Utz, or the less specific "shade grown."

Smithsonian Bird-Friendly Coffee. Read about the BF certification, where you can find bird-friendly beans, and more. 

Specialty Coffee Association of America







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Laura Kammermeier

Laura Kammermeier

Birds, nature, and travel send Laura Kammermeier over the moon. Naturally, she’s chosen to blur the line between life and work by bringing them into focus as a writer and web consultant. When not advising nature organizations and small businesses on their web marketing and social media presence, Laura is an avid birder, traveler, amateur photographer, and an oft-published writer with credits in magazines, newspapers, and online publications. Her latest writing endeavors have focused on birding, conservation, nature travel, and mobile birding technology. In fact, Laura was the freelance editor of our first annual 2010 ABA Birder's Gear Guide! Laura holds an M.S. in aquatic ecology from Kent State University. She served as founding officer of the Ohio Ornithological Society, is a former project leader for Project FeederWatch at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and consults for a clients ranging from The Nature Conservancy and ABA to mobile app developers and tourism groups. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sleepy village south of Rochester, NY, and is always looking for the next great place to chase birds. Find her on the web at