Saturday, March 7, 2009

Shade-Grown Coffee- Do you buy it?

Anyone participating in ProjectFeederWatch can attest to the fact that they send you a lot of stuff in the mail. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a lot of other projects going on that they want you to know about. I got an entire newsletter (Birdscope) devoted to neotropical birds, and of course it promoted buying shade-grown coffee. My favorite part of the newsletter was Dave Barry's quote, which appeared in the From the Editor section:

Several years ago, in an interview with humor writer Dave Barry, I mentioned “Neotropical migrants.” He was unfamiliar with the term, and said, “What?! Not any old tropics are good enough for them—those birds have to have Neotropics?”

I loved reading his syndicated column in the Sunday paper, and I think it's very cool that Dave Barry is an avid birder. I see him pop up now and again in birding news sources/blogs.

If you don't get Birdscope you can read the full article here:

Anyway, back to shade-grown coffee. So this issue of Birdscope succeeded at educating me to buy shade-grown coffee, but I wasn't fully convinced to buy it yet. There was a lot of information in there but I was most concerned about the logistics of it- where could I buy it and how much did it cost? Ok- honestly, price was the biggest concern I had.

I forgot about it for a week or so until I randomly did my week's shopping at Trader Joe's. I used to shop there a lot when I lived in Brighton and Watertown, but now that I'm in Bridgewater, BJ's and Market Basket are where I end up. I don't even know where the closest Trader Joe's is down here...Anyway, since I still work in Watertown it's easy enough for me to hit up the West Newton one on the way home.

I was flying through the store, grabbing only what I could fit into my basket (that's my strategy to not buy too much but it usually ends up with me walking lop-sided, weight down by my 50 lb basket...), when I came to the coffee shelf. I usually buy the French Roast but then I started comparing prices and seeing what else would be smart to buy. THEN I noticed the shade-grown coffee all the way at the bottom of the shelf with the other premium coffees. I picked up the container and decided to refresh my memory on why buying shade-grown coffee is important:

Over the last twenty years many large coffee producers have switched from shaded plantations to coffee grown under full sun. In so doing they have eliminated trees that serve as a critical habitat for many species of migratory birds and other rainforest wildlife. The growing of certified shade grown coffee beans does not contribute to the depletion of the mature rainforest canopy of Central and South America.

We now offer Trader Joe's Shade Grown coffee made from 100% organic beans grown without using herbicides or pesticides. It is French roasted dark for a deliciously rich full-bodied flavor.

Then I looked at the price- $7.99 for 13 oz. Hmm...this was going to be a tough decision. I want to help the neotropical birds, but at the same time I need to be budget-conscious. Finally I decided what the heck- if it tastes good I'll keep buying it.

Did it pass the taste test? Absolutely! I've loved coffee since I was 13-14 or so , drinking just regular Folgers and Maxwell House, and when I studied abroad in France I expanded my coffee-drinking to espresso and very strong coffee. My host family would make a regular-sized pot of coffee that was almost as strong as espresso itself--my love of strong coffee began! The Trader Joe's Shade-Grown coffee is a French roast, as described above, and it is full-bodied and smooth without tasting bitter. Best of all, since it tastes delicious and lives up to its premium coffee pricing--it is worth every single penny!

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