A fiery-billed aracari looks through the canopy

What is Bird-friendly Coffee


To understand what bird-friendly coffee is we need to talk about how coffee is grown. The cheapest agriculture practice for growing coffee involves tearing down (or burning) lush jungles in critical biological zones for both birds and wildlife. Once all the native vegetation is removed, farmers plant as much coffee as possible under sun. This style of farming requires many pesticides and fertilizers as the native ecosystem cannot provide the essential nutrients and protection offered by nature. Sun grown coffee is an unnatural process for growing coffee quickly and cheaply.

Fortunately, Smithsonian bird-friendly coffee is a guarantee that your coffee is shade-grown without harmful pesticides or mono-cropping practices. So, how does a farm qualify for bird-friendly status? They work with scientists at the Smithsonian to create or maintain a distinctive three layer forest canopy with at least 10 native tree species reaching up to 12m in height. These agroforestry practices create a habitat where birds can flourish above, while the coffee below ripens to perfection. The natural growing process allows the bean to be denser, creating more sugars and oils. You can taste the difference.

Our farms support:

  • 1,786 Bird Species
  • 5,018 Coffee Growers
  • 14,866 Ha of Land across 12 countries

Our goal at Big Year Coffee is to change the agricultural business to protect birds and wildlife from humans while providing delicious, high-quality coffee. We have perfected our roasting techniques by roasting only bird-friendly beans, meaning you are getting the highest quality coffee from a trusted roasting process. 

Not only is our coffee bird-friendly, but it is also all certified USDA organic. Currently we  can't afford the certificate due to our small operating budget, but we hope to soon. We also use completely compostable packaging materials when we can and are shifting to compostable labels and stickers next. We are always working to make our business as sustainable as possible.

Finally, what could be more bird friendly than the fact that our head roaster/founder, Avery Meeker, is a trained avian ecologist with a Masters in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Washington. He's worked on projects to conserve birds in both Denali and Yosemite National Parks as an avian researcher and field technician. His work has helped protect migratory species that call the coffee fields home in the winter. Now that's bird-friendly.