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Early Bird Gets the Brew

Making the Switch to Conservation-Friendly Coffee

Friday, March 31, 2023 written by Ashley Mitchell

Picture this: you roll out of bed and head to your kitchen to make a warm cup of coffee. You sip the coffee as you gaze out the window, watching wild birds fly by. You go about your day not thinking twice about your morning coffee until you get to work and notice the newest edition of “Connect” from the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) sitting on your desk. You open the magazine to a page that reads “The Migration to Bird Friendly® Coffee.” Suddenly, you’re back in your kitchen drinking coffee and watching the birds. 

What’s the Problem? 

Photo Credit: © Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

If you haven’t guessed, the above scenario happened to me just this week. As the Social Media Specialist at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, my job is not only to write engaging content but to stay up-to-date on the newest in conservation, research, and ground-breaking technology that is changing the Zoo and Aquarium industry. Then, I use that knowledge to present it to our followers in a thought-provoking way that will inspire action. 

There are so many things we could do to support conservation efforts, and this week I learned that wisely choosing your coffee is one of them. All you have to do is spot the Bird Friendly® Coffee logo on your favorite bag of coffee. Bird Friendly® is a certification from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. Based on Smithsonian research, the certification upholds the strictest criteria for biodiversity conservation. 

Here’s Why Bird-Friendly Coffee Matters 

Over three-quarters of the world’s coffee is grown on sun-grown monocultures, which are fields used to cultivate one species of a crop at a time. Coffee grows best in tropical climates along the equator, which also happens to be one of the areas with the highest biodiversity. In order to optimize coffee production to keep up with the growing demand, farmers in the 1970s began eliminating shade trees for more room to plant coffee plants and yield more produce when grown in direct sun. Removing the top layers of the rainforest consequently destroys the homes of hundreds of species, including migratory songbirds, monkeys, and sloths. 

Scarlet tanager

To protect and ensure the survival of around 243 bird species, Bird Friendly® created the certification which requires farmers to maintain a minimum of 40 percent shade cover over their coffee crops, have at least 11 tree species with 60% of the species being native to the region, and a tree canopy height of at least 12 meters, while also growing crops organically with no hazardous pesticides or chemicals. Luckily, Bird Friendly® did all the hard work for you. All you have to do is look for their label next time you re-stock your coffee jar. 

Being Part of the Solution  

To make it even easier, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium will soon be selling Bird Friendly® certified coffee in our gift shop! As an organization rooted in wildlife conservation, we work diligently to do all we can to aid in conservation efforts and practice what we preach.  


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