Smithsonian Global

Bird Friendly® Coffee Program

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Shade-grown coffee plantation in forested mountains




Power to Convene

In 1996, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) organized and hosted the first Sustainable Coffee Congress. 

The 3-day Sustainable Coffee Congress brought together 270 people from 19 different countries. Attendees represented the whole value chain of the coffee industry, including Starbucks, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, USAID, coffee researchers, producers, importers and roasters.

In 1997, SMBC introduced the world’s first and only 100% shade-grown coffee designation in 1996: Bird Friendly® Coffee.

With this pioneering program that focuses on small producers with organic certification—and many who are Fair Trade certified as well—Bird Friendly coffee supports fair and stable prices for coffee producers, healthy environments for communities, greater biodiversity and protection for bird habitats, and equal access to markets for Bird Friendly coffee producers.


Robert A. Rice (Bob)  

Robert Rice studies agroecology and land-use practices and policy in Latin America and the U.S. He researches agroforestry systems and their impacts and benefits to the environment and human communities.