The coffee we love wakes us up in the mornings, but we can also choose a brew that's healthier – for people, the environment and songbirds – and better tasting, too. Here's what various labels mean.
What it means: Does not include use of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers; may involve sustainable farming methods such as crop mixing. About 90 per cent of organic coffee is grown under tree cover rather than full sun.
Why you should care: Coffee is among the most chemically treated foods and may contain toxic chemicals such as diazinon (which can cause nausea, pancreatic damage, respiratory problems and coma) and Paraquat (which can cause lung damage and heart, kidney and liver failure).
What to look for: An organic label. Today there are 28 organic certifications in Canada.
What it means: Workers and producers get fair wages for their labour and products. More than half of fair-trade coffee in Canada is organic.
Why you should care: Vulnerable workers and producers receive a secure income, and children are not exploited producing the coffee you drink.
What to look for: Official Fair Trade Certified logo. For more information, visit www.transfair.ca.
Bird friendly and/or shade-grown
What it means: The coffee is grown under a canopy of diverse species of shade trees. Bird-friendly coffees are the only ones certified as both shade-grown and organic by independent inspectors using criteria established by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of the National Zoo.
Why you should care: Instead of destroying forests to make room for monoculture coffee crops, shade-coffee provides a habitat for a variety of birds and other species and helps prevent global warming. Bird-friendly coffees contribute 25 cents per pound in support of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center research and conservation programs.
What to look for: The logo created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. For shade-grown products, look for labels showing Rainforest Alliance Certified or Drink Shade-Grown Coffee.
Great recipes featuring coffee:
• Vietnamese Coffee
• Nutty Irishman Coffee
• Double-Coffee Meringue Kisses