Busted at the coffee counter!


Coffee, anyone? I’ve been trying to keep stocked with beans certified as bird-friendly, but they’re tough to find. Often, I simply have to pick an organic brand at my grocery story and hope that suffices.

The problem with many of the major brands is that the coffee plants are grown in monocultures on large plantations, often requiring pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer.

The more traditional, earth-friendly way to grow coffee is in the shade of forests, in areas rich with birds and native plants. Organic means that the plants are grown sans the nasty chemicals, but it may not mean the growers have gone all the way to ensure bird habitats, worker rights and a fair price. So clearly there’s a lot more to consider.

I’ve found a local source for bird-friendly certified coffee at the Reading Terminal Market. I wound up passing by one day when I hadn’t expected to and decided to stock up. My pride level shot up. How eco! I didn’t even have to make a special trip.

Once the clerk filled several little bags of it, she looked up. “Do you need a bag?”

Gulp. I realized I hadn’t brought one.

“Yes, please,” I said, chagrined.

She gave me a withering look. “That’s not very bird-friendly,” she said.

For more information, here’s a link to a column I wrote not long ago about coffee.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has trademarked the "Bird Friendly" seal and has a rigorous program. The Rainforest Alliance certification focuses on sustainability, wildlife and the workers. Audubon has adopted that for its coffees as well.