It was nice to be in a Whole Foods Market today and see some of their Allegro Coffee varieties in a display featuring birds and their “Caffeinate Your Conscience with Shade Grown Coffee” promotion, going on through early April. The web site has a brief but accurate blurb about the importance of shade coffee to birds, and a number of species are portrayed on the in-store display. A few were odd choices to represent shade coffee, especially the two shorebirds (Solitary Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs). These shorebirds are definitely long-distance migrants which winter in the tropics, but obviously do not use forested habitats.
On the plus side, Allegro’s three featured shade coffees do come from sustainable sources. All are organic.
- El Salvador, Santa Adelaida Cooperative. Also Rainforest Alliance certified. You can read my review of this coffee here.
- Guatemala, Lake Atitlan, La Voz Cooperative. This co-op (full name: La Voz qui Clama en el Desierto), which began growing coffee in 1985, now comprises 120 families. Coffee is grown at 1500 meters in the district of San Juan La Laguna, Sololá near Lake Atitlan. I believe at one time this was Smithsonian Bird-Friendly certified, but it is not currently on their list. If so, it’s more likely this has to do with economics (the expense of renewing certification) versus a change in ecological management.
- Mexico, Zaragoza, 21st of September Cooperative. Fair Trade certified. This is the same source that was used in the 2007 Counter Culture Holiday Blend, and you can read that review here. I also gave Allegro’s a try. It was a light roast somewhere in between the two roast levels Counter Culture used in their blend, and it was outstandingly sweet and candy-like. Really an exceptional example of a chocolatey classic Latin American coffee.
Kudos to Whole Foods and Allegro Coffee Roasters for bringing the birds and coffee connection to the attention of the public.