About Big Year Coffee

The idea of Big Year Coffee begins from a well-researched understanding of agriculture's impacts on wildlife. While visiting Costa Rica as a college undergraduate I witnessed the scale and impact of mass agriculture on tropical birds and wildlife. As I stood near a large mono-crop of sun grown coffee (most coffee these dats), I looked nearby at the adjacent patches of forest that were teaming with wildlife, birds and large fruiting fig trees. I took note of my ignorance in regards to my favorite daily drink.. Fortunately, a few days later on this trip, I also visited a small family-owned farm that grew shade coffee. I was visiting with a renowned professor of avian ecology and we happened to be doing bird counts so we took the chance to count birds in both shade patches and sun patches. We found a stunning difference in abundance and species diversity in the shade patches verses the sun. Since then I've found other researchers like Çağan H. Şekercioğlu who has found differences between insect and invertebrate availability in sun coffee plantations verse shade grown coffee. These findings tell us that shade coffee makes a serious difference in protecting birds and maintaining healthy bird populations.

I never forgot this experience and as I grew my own coffee company from scratch I knew shade-grown coffee had to be on the menu. I couldn't get myself to accept that the coffee I drank had to demolish the biodiverse jungles of such a beautiful country like Costa Rica. Not only is the bird-friendly coffee we source shade-grown, but it's also completely organic, GMO and pesticide-free. This means our coffee beans are some of the most natural and delicious coffee you can buy.

Big Year Coffee is more than just whole beans though, our original product, the single-use pour-over, was founded by my partner Kait and me while visiting Japan on a big year birding trip. I bought the filters at a 711, used them for coffee a few mornings, and realize they would be a great substitute for crappy tasting instant coffee I typically used for avian fieldwork and backpacking. I connected with a sourcing company and after roughly conducting some scientific taste tests found two blends of coffee that tasted the best, which became Cotinga and Sunbird Blend.

In the birding world, a Big Year is a challenge to identify as many birds as possible in a pre-determined time or location, Big Year goals can be audacious or simple. Over time, a Big Year for us became synonymous with our adventure, exploring new environments and working towards a goal, it was the perfect name for our new small business. Not to mention that I was beginning his first big year when we began the idea for the company.

We started Big Year Coffee with the hopes of combining the familiarity of a great cup of coffee with our love of outdoor adventures, van life, and bird-watching. We hope you join us along in our journey, as you travel the world, camp, or just enjoy a cup of coffee on the go! Keep in touch through our blog or Instagram, and let us know about your Big Year moments.

Kait and Avery enjoying some Big Year Coffee in Canyonlands National Park
- Kait and Avery