A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

If you watch birds you’ve undoubtedly enjoyed watching them in the early morning while having a cup of coffee. Want to enjoy the latter while better helping the species you enjoy viewing? Drink shade-grown coffee. 

As the name suggests, shade-grown coffee is composed of coffee shrubs and trees grown in the understory of a shady tropical rainforest in which the ecosystem remains largely intact. Unfortunately most coffee consumed by Americans are sun-grown varieties where the rainforest is destroyed and manicured rows of coffee plants grow. Sun grown coffee farms have many fewer wildlife species, such as the birds we love — Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks to name but a few; in some cases sun-grown coffee farms have 5% of the species found in shade grown farms. 

Shade grown coffee brands are available in some stores and certainly on-line. They are a  bit more expensive but if more consumers buy coffee sustainably grown, prices should come down. And you will gain something more than you ever could by consuming a cheaper cup of sun-grown coffee — knowing you’re helping migratory birds that visit us during the Spring and Summer survive.

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.