The Coffee You Drink Could Save Thousands of Birds

Posted by on Nov 24, 2016 in Blog | No Comments

Are you a coffee lover? Are you also a lover of living things? Did you know that the coffee you drink could be leaving thousands of birds without a home?

If this is news to you, you’re not alone. Birds and Beans, Canada’s only 100% certified bird-friendly coffee roaster, says that most people are shocked to discover the effect that the average consumer coffee bean has on migratory bird populations. The Planetary Health Commission partnered with them at our Planet Earth screening this month to spread the word (and the caffeine, of course).

The PHC with Birds and Beans at our Planet Earth screening event.

Here are the basics:

Traditional farming methods grow beans under the shade of the forest. Although they take a bit longer to harvest, they keep the ecosystem of the forest in tact and actually produce a much tastier cup of joe.

This was always the way. That is, until modern farming methods came into play. These methods destruct entire forests to grow coffee beans in the sun, harvesting quicker and bumping up the turnover rate. Faster beans mean more coffee produced and more money in the pockets of big bean providers.

But what happens when these acres of forests are destroyed? Apart from the many issues that come with ecosystem destruction, thousands upon thousands of migratory birds lose their winter habitats. These birds migrate South to put on some holiday weight so they can mate in the Spring. But when they return to find the forest – their main source of food – has vanished entirely, the prospect of new baby birds vanishes with it.

Birds have a lot of problems: tall buildings, airplanes, cats. But their migratory changes in habitat are such a massive part of their life cycle, that any loss of habitat is detrimental to their survival.

“In the last 50 years, most migratory birds have lost half of their population. Some of them a third. Some of them even worse,” says Birds and Beans. “You can directly correlate this to winter habitat loss.”

Source: Birds and Beans

Source: Birds and Beans

Birds and Beans is fighting back. They only support beans that are shade-grown by dedicated, traditional farmers. Plus, all the products in their Etobicoke coffee shop are organic, fair trade, and free of palm oil and genetically modified ingredients. They also distribute their coffee to several vendors across Toronto. And it all started as a means for people to “spend their money in a way that is less damaging to the Earth.”

Source: Birds and Beans

Source: Birds and Beans

So why is this major issue not being talked about? “People don’t really understand that if the birds go, we have a problem,” says Birds and Beans. Just like bees are a huge part of our ecosystem’s stability, birds have the same environmental impact.

But Birds and Beans is optimistic about the future of the bird-friendly movement. “It’s hard to start, but once you start just keep going,” they say. “Don’t worry about trying to do it all at once. Pick something. That’s why we say this is an easy one. All you have to do is buy a different brand of coffee. The more of ours you drink, the more habitat you save. The more Maxwell House you drink, the more habitat you destroy. It’s as simple as that.”

Head to to find out where you can buy delicious coffee that protects our bird friends and our environment.

Want to find bird-friendly coffee on campus? Try Balzac’s Atwood Blend, a certified bird-friendly coffee that supports the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

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