Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shade Grown Coffee

by Bob Ranney
Charley Burwick, a member of the Springfield Plateau Chapter of Missouri Master Naturalists, recently routed an article on shade grown coffee to  the membership.  That article was published on a blog called The Drinking Bird and can be found via this link: Guatemala: Coffee is life

 The article is an eye opener for readers whose knowledge of coffee doesn’t extend beyond their morning cup.  It certainly was for me, and I thought there must more sources  than just Guatemala, so I kept looking.  One of the more interesting sites I found featured a simple, but illuminating slide show on the Smithsonian Friends of the Zoo website.  Each of its twenty-eight slides are accompanied by one or two paragraphs of facts that add a little broader scope to the issue.

The vital point introduced by The Drinking Bird is that once an environmentalist is aware of behaviors that contribute to environmental degredation, changing his or her own behaviors to help stop that degredation becomes their responsibility.    So, being a coffee drinker and having a conscience, environmentalists are naturally led to wonder where to find shade grown coffee.  And, lo and behold, we find another link on the Smithsonian page by Googling bird friendly coffee, but it says that there is no source of such coffee in Missouri. 

So what to do now, give up?  Not the Springfield Plateau type.  Ultimately I found it here:  Still no local sources, but the mail still runs – rain, sleet, snow or angry in-laws - so find a vendor you like and order some.  The price is about double that of locally available coffee, but I'll try to cut consumption in half - which won't hurt my health - and drink it good conscience. (It's available in decaf, too.) Then, the next time I watch a Baltimore Oriole eat one of the orange slices we put out for her, I'll be proudly sipping some of the world’s best coffee.  Why not join me?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link!

    I'm fortunate to have a couple specialty coffee shops in my area, but for places that don't, I'd encourage local bird stores to carry some of the more well-known bird friendly brands. Typically they can get them for a reasonable price in bulk and pass that on to the consumer.

    The short of it is, though, that there's really no such thing as "cheap" coffee, because of the impact sun-grown coffee has on the environment and the local growers. But we're fortunate that the difference is not so completely out of range for people that care.