Your Morning Coffee Can Now Support Birds

“Shade Grown Coffee Supports Migratory Birds”— this is the new badge of honor for local coffee shops and roasters in Asheville and soon, across the state of North Carolina.

"We had the idea to launch this program when we realized how many roasters in our area were already providing shade coffees in the Asheville and western North Carolina region” explains Monica Schwalbach, Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society Board Member. “Partnering together to promote bird conservation felt natural, and with the growing support for sustainable options, this area is a great place to begin.”

What is shade-grown coffee?

Coffee can grow as a small shrub or a tall tree, and thrives in rich soil with mild temperatures, frequent rain, and shaded sun.

Shade-grown coffee is the traditional, natural way of growing coffee under a canopy of trees. Since the 1970s, sun-coffee monocultures have prevailed in an effort to obtain higher yields.

Shade-grown coffee farming practices benefit local farmers, as the greater diversity of birds helps control insect pests, pollinate crops, and spread seeds. It’s a more sustainable option, and it provides important winter habitat for songbirds that nest in western North Carolina! 

"I've seen Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blackburnian Warbler and more at coffee plantations in South and Central America," says Tom Tribble, EMAS President. "Most of our insect eating neotropical migrants benefit from restoring forest canopies."

Rose-breasted Grosbeak in Raleigh, NC Photo: Nicole White Kennedy

How are local shops and roasters getting involved?

As consumers, we’re becoming more aware of sustainable practices, and making choices that reflect a commitment to a healthier earth. Our local shops and roasters are on-board with this commitment, and therefore seek to work with healthy land stewards.

“Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society is helping to create connections between local roasters, the farmers who practice shade-grown coffee farming, and our local businesses, to bring these sustainable practices to the public” explains Monica.

How can I sip sustainably?

Local coffee shops and roasters in Asheville have already signed on to partner with Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society and sell shade-grown coffee to their customers in support of birds.

In the coming months, more will be added to the list! In the meantime, look for coffees made by these local roasters, and head on over to a partnering shop to purchase your beans today:

Biltmore Coffee Roasters

Dynamite Roasting Company

Green Sage Café

Hickory Nut Gap Farm