Sales of organic, shade-grown coffee grown to the Bird Friendly standards of the National Zoo’s Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center rose to nearly $3.5 million in 2008, according to a report by Robert Rice, a geographer at the SMBC. In 2008, the majority (61 percent) of all Bird Friendly coffee roasted was consumed in the United States, followed by Japan (36 percent) and Canada (3 percent).
Bird Friendly is certified organic coffee produced on farms with a shade cover that provides a substantial and vital habitat for migratory and resident birds in tropical landscapes, which are increasingly threatened by deforestation globally at an unprecedented rate. The Bird Friendly criteria are the world’s most stringent standards for shade-grown coffee production. Migratory birds, including the popular Baltimore Oriole, are not only beautiful with vibrant songs, but are integral to tropical and temperate ecosystems alike, providing flower pollination and seed dispersal, among other roles.
“Consumers increasingly want to know that the food they eat and coffee they drink are grown and processed in ways that are healthy for farmers and the environment,” said Rice, who coordinates the Bird Friendly certification program at the SMBC. “By choosing to drink Bird Friendly coffee to kick-start their morning, consumers can help protect quality habitat for birds and other wildlife.”
More than 95 percent of Bird Friendly coffee comes from coffee farms in Central and South America with the remainder coming from Africa. Some 1,400 producers manage more than 12,000 acres (5,000 hectares) of Bird Friendly area and coffee farms, and they produced more than 6 million pounds of Bird Friendly coffee in the 2007–2008 harvest year. Peru ranks first in Bird Friendly coffee production (39 percent), and together, Peru, Guatemala and Mexico account for 77 percent of all production.
The volume of Bird Friendly coffee sold in the United States between 2000 and 2008 increased more than a hundredfold (averaging a 145 percent annual increase), from fewer than 2,000 pounds to 200,400 pounds. There are 44 roasters in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan that carry Bird Friendly coffee imported by 16 companies.
The Zoo has partnered with coffee roaster Golden Valley Farms (West Chester, Pa.) to serve its Bird Friendly-certified organic coffee in the Zoo’s three restaurants as of Dec. 1, 2009.