First stop in Guatemala was Finca Nueva Armenia, owned by the Recinos twins, a farm certified as bird friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC). So what’s bird friendly? Basically it’s a farm that puts the birds interest in mind, and has a number of wonderful residual benefits. First, it’s organic; no fertilizers. Coffee is shade grown. Coffee is sometimes labeled as shade grown to yield a higher price, because shaded plants need to work harder to absorb more oxygen thus producing a more acidic bean and a more vibrant flavor. But the shade grown designation alone isn’t regulated, so unless you see the SMBC’s bird friendly certification, you aren’t sure what you are buying. SMBC has a strict canopy height minimum of 12 meters and requires at least 40% foliage coverage on the plantation.
Plants on the farm must also be native, so local and migratory birds can live without their habitat being impacted. Finally plants on the farm must be diverse, with at least 10 wooded species. This promotes a natural and healthy eco system that will improve the sustainability of the farm, which is for the birds.