American Birding Podcast



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