Why isn’t Arbor Day Coffee Bird Friendly® Certified?

By Jon Ferguson | March 3, 2020

Clear-cutting forests to make way for agriculture and pastures doesn’t only remove critical forest lands, it removes critical wildlife habitat that depend on the forest for food, shelter, and nesting. 

Bird Friendly® Certified coffee must meet rigorous certification requirements through the Smithsonian Institution’s habitat standards. Arbor Day Coffee has purchased from many of the same farms and producers, but our program encompasses a wider selection of producers across a diverse agricultural landscape.

We have taken great measures over the years to ensure that we work with producers who participate in good coffee agroforestry management practices, from Peru to Mexico, Ethiopia to Burundi, and Indonesia to Papua New Guinea.  The limitations that we found in the availability of producers that participate in this specific certification, along with the number of producers that exist outside of this certification that employ a similar set of standards set forth in the Bird Friendly certification platform, led us to become more inclusive with growers that may have found challenges in this certification — not because of the amount of trees or canopy that they have, but other factors such as access to differentiated markets, cost of certifications, or their locality and topographical challenges in relation to migratory bird pathways. 

I recently returned from Nicaragua where I visited one of our producers at Finca Los Papales outside of Jinotega for the fourth year in a row.   In addition, I was able to drive to Honduras to meet a new producer group COMSA, an association of coffee growers near Marcala, in the department of La Paz.  Both farms have amazing forests surrounding coffee production, and some of the producers in the association have decided to certify their farms to be Bird Friendly, while their neighbors, perhaps similarly qualified to do so, have chosen not to invest in this certification.

We work with both these producer groups; however, we have not found a high demand for Bird Friendly certification in our customer base in order to invest in the additional fees for utilizing the certification logo.  Our La Sombra Blend is comprised of coffee from COMSA in Honduras, which is both USDA certified organic and Fair Trade USA Certified. We also look for producers who are Rainforest Alliance Certified, but do not utilize the logo on our bags.

We honor all producers who maintain their forests despite which certifications they go through and applaud producers that are helping to protect wildlife habitat, generate food security, and respect their agricultural landscapes.

All Arbor Day Coffee is sourced with care and focus, and we hope you enjoy it in the years to come.

Learn more about Arbor Day Coffee.

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