The Exotic Bean

What Is “Smithsonian Bird-Friendly®?” How Is it Different From Just “Shade-Grown?”

Understanding the Depth of Information Behind “Shade-Grown” Coffee Labels

certified bird friendly coffee

You may have heard somewhere along the way in your coffee-sourcing efforts that it is important to purchase shade-grown coffee. You may have also heard that there are benefits to drinking bird-friendly coffee.

Now, you’re curious about what the difference between these two terms may be, and whether or not it’s better to drink bird-friendly coffee than shade grown coffee or vice versa. Well, you’re in luck – because that’s exactly what we’ll be covering in this article, so read on for details!

What Is Shade-Grown Coffee?

Shade-grown coffee is a term used when the coffee plants on the farm where the coffee is produced are planted under a natural canopy of trees. The main benefit of purchasing shade-grown coffee is that you are supporting the environment.

This natural approach to coffee farming is much better than conventional methods that often involve the engineering of sun-tolerant coffee plants using practices that are unsustainable and that impact the environment negatively.

In addition, research has shown there is much greater biodiversity on coffee plantations that use shade-grown farming techniques. As a result, shade-grown coffee farming not only does not have a negative effect on the environment, but it can also actually help to heal the environment.

Finally, some people do find that shade-grown coffee tastes much better, due to the increased nutrients and nitrogen found in the rich soil of shade-grown coffee farms.

What Is Smithsonian Bird-Friendly® Coffee?

Bird-friendly® coffee is a designation awarded by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute for the coffee farms with the highest shade-grown and organic standards. All Bird-friendly certified coffees are shade-grown, but not all shade-grown coffee is Bird-friendly certified.

Shade-grown, organic coffee farms become Bird-friendly certified by contacting approved Bird-friendly certification agencies. These agencies make sure that the farms that receive the seal are following the highest standards with respect to their environment.

Bird-Friendly farms must also submit to re-certification every three years, and roasters pay a small fee to be able to use the Smithsonian Bird-Friendly seal on their products.

Shade-Grown Coffee vs. Bird-Friendly Coffee

Is there a particular reason to choose one or the other? Since all Bird-friendly-certified coffee is technically shade grown, there is no advantage to choosing shade-grown coffee over Bird-friendly coffee. In fact, by choosing Bird-friendly coffee, you are choosing shade-grown coffee as well.

However, if you can only find shade-grown coffee or have a preference for a particular shade-grown coffee that is not necessarily Bird-friendly certified, you can still enjoy many of the advantages that come from this kind of coffee. In fact, a particular coffee may not be Bird-friendly certified simply because they have not wanted to pay for the seal, or have not found the right certification agency.

Some benefits of both shade-grown coffee and Bird-friendly coffee can include:

  • Better tasting coffee – shade-grown coffee beans grow in more nutrient-rich soil and ripen more slowly, both of which can result in bolder, richer flavor.
  • Healing of the environment – Mitigating climate change and promoting biodiversity.
  • Better conditions for farm workers and others along the coffee production chain – shade-grown coffee farms are often also fair-trade coffee farms that respect all the workers on the coffee supply chain.

certified bird friendly coffee

Bird-Friendly Coffee Benefits From Further Research

In addition, Smithsonian Bird-friendly® certified coffee farms benefit from the state-of-the-art research and conservation work performed by the Smithsonian Institution.

The Exotic Bean sells USDA-certified organic fair-trade coffee direct from the shade-grown Paradise Mountain coffee farm in Thailand. For more information about shade-grown coffee and certifications or to order Paradise Mountain coffee, call The Exotic Bean at 844-571-1237 or 410-630-8480 or pay us a visit online now.