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A Great new source for Shade Coffee
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A Great new source for Shade Coffee

A Great new source for Shade Coffee

Posted June 1: updated June 9, 2011

Western Tanager, photo by Ed Newbold. Western Tanager is one of many North American birds that are to some degree dependent on shade coffee plantations.

Saving Birds like this has now become almost as easy as shooting fish in a barrel!

That’s because there is now a great new source for CERTIFIED Shade Coffee:







BirdsandBeans coffee bag perched on the same rock as the Western Tanager. If the Shade Coffee wasn’t there neither would some of our birds be there.

Delia and I have tried it by ordering online from their website  and it’s delicious.  (We order French roast).

More importantly, Shade Coffee saves birds.  Many of the songbirds of North America winter in Central America where, increasingly, land is needed for agriculture.  And Shade Coffee plantations come to the rescue by providing them with winter habitat.  (Shade Coffee is also indispensable for many species that don’t migrate to North America).  Shade Coffee does this because it happens to be that rare, lucky agricultural method that provides both a cash crop and year-round high-quality wildlife habitat.

There are other great sources of Shade Coffee.  Small companies, such as Poverty Bay Coffee of Federal Way and Rainbow Organics of Eugene, OR among many others sell it.  Starbucks deserves credit for providing a line of shade coffee, pictured that aids in helping the farmers and ecosystem of El Triunfo, Chiapas, Mexico.  Because Starbucks places the words “Shade Coffee” prominantly in the name of the coffee, because El Triumfo is such an important area, because Starbucks is in such a position to help the cause and because Starbucks didn’t have to do this, this coffee remains one of my own personal first choices.  (Although I try not to buy other coffees from Starbucks which may be sun coffee or “contaminated” with it.) (Sun-Coffee, the other method of growing coffee, involves planting the coffee bushes out in full sun like a vinyard.)

Birds and Beans Coffee is Certified

But a big advantage of Birds and Beans is that they carry only Certified Shade Coffee.  Ultimately, Shade Coffee can’t succeed without a certification system, and Birds and Beans  uses the one developed by the Smithsonian Institute.

(Trader Joe’s has played an ambiguous role in the Shade Coffee cause.  They sell coffee they call Shade Coffee, which could be good in every possibly every way, except they won’t tell anyone, including Bird Conservation scientists, where they are getting it.  Ultimately the Shade Coffee cause will fail if anyone can just write “Shade Coffee” on the side of their bag whenever they think it will help them sell the product.)

Above is a painting I did of just a few of the birds that depend on Shade Coffee.


Here is the new sign with reworked paintings that will be in my Pike Place Store beginning June 12, 2011:

Sign explaining Shade Coffee by Ed Newbold, on display at his store in the Pike Place Market


Below is a link to a list of companies that sell shade coffee that has been but together by an organization called Honest Grounds:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In case anyone is still with me, here are some final thoughts on Shade Coffee:

If you do only one “Green” thing, this should be it!

There are many competing demands made by environmentalists about what we should do and not do and what we should and shouldn’t buy.  Each issue could support many book’s worth of research and each issue requires complex thinking.  Buying organic foods, for instance, may be very important to save the ecosystem from poisons—or it may not be, depending on which scientist you listen to.  And organic foods require a significantly larger amount of land to produce than inorganic foods, thus ultimately posing a theoretical threat to wildlife habitat, which must live on what’s left after humans are done. (Delia and I have decided to support organic agriculture as much as we can and buy a box of organic vegetables delivered biweekly from SPUD, but if we find out you never buy organics ever, we won’t be mad at you!)

Shade Coffee is completely different from things like recycling, re-usable bags, taking the bus, or buying organics.  Here there is no ambiguity, nor is there the slightest insignificance or hopelessness about the action.  Buying shade coffee (in the aggregate) directly and immediately saves species from decline and ultimate extinction.  The research is in.  Birds like the Baltimore Oriole, Magnolia Warbler and many others are dependent upon shade coffee plantations to survive the winter months.

Let’s reward the Shade Coffee farmers in Central America and say thank you in a meaningful way for the work they are doing to keep nature alive in the hemisphere.

The Big List of Certified Organic and Sustainable Coffee Brands

The Big List of Certified Organic and Sustainable Coffee Brands

The Big List of Certified Organic and Sustainable Coffee Brands

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