Closure to attend Climate Strike Toronto

As an expression of our sense of urgency for climate action, Birds and Beans will be closed between 10am and 3pm on September 27, 2019 to enable us to attend the Toronto Global Climate Strike.

We stand and clearly say that business as usual is a dead end.

We are aware that we are living within a system that has gone rogue.

We support action that acknowledges our impact on the future of life on earth.

For the greater good we are willing to

    • pay more,
    • work harder,
    • give up conveniences,
    • be mindful and
    • share.

We ask you to join us in Toronto or wherever you may be.

Celebrating 10 Organic Years with New Packaging

We are celebrating 10 years of organic certification!  We passed our first organic audit under the (then) new Canada Organic Regime in September 2009. 

We thought it was a good time for a packaging refresh!

We have always offered our certified organic, bird friendly coffees in biodegradable kraft packages with biodegradable liners.  Now, we have found a new locally printed bag made with compostable films and inks that looks and feels fantastic! 

Here is a teaser for what is to come.

Now Serving Morning People Earlier

New Opening Hours Starting this Weekend 

Starting on Saturday August 17, 2019 we will be ready to serve you at

🕡 6:30 AM Weekdays 
🕖 7:00 AM Weekends 

Grab a bird friendly coffee to go, or linger with an organic latté.  Maybe have a boreal smoothie and check out the flowers on the patio or grab your sustainable wrap for lunch.  Our breakfast cookies will be ready for you!

Grab and Go Wraps – Conscious Food!

Tuna wrap in the process of being assembled
How about our Egg Salad Wrap and Boreal Berry Smoothie for lunch?

We are delighted to introduce our new grab and go wraps!  We have 4 great hearty choices ready to eat in our retail refrigerator.  And of course they are consistent with all of our values: high quality and delicious; GMO free; palm oil free; cruelty free; mostly organic.  

We spent weeks testing recipes to ensure they are meal worthy and delicious!  Then we made sure the ingredients meet our commitment to our values.

The wraps are in delicious 11 inch Indian Life Tortillas. They are non-GMO verified and mostly organic. 

All animal products (cheese and eggs) are Canadian produced certified organic.  Since the Canada Organic Standard has a strict animal welfare provision we can be assured the animals were not factory farmed and were treated with care.   

And since we have ensured no ingredient contains palm oil (or sneaky palm derivatives), we withhold support from the appalling destruction of forests in Indonesia and the unimaginable suffering the palm industry inflicts on forest wildlife like orangutans.

Our tuna is Raincoast Wild Skipjack, the most sustainable tuna available in Canada according to the World Wildlife Fund market assessment.  It is fished by local Maldives fishers with pole and line, so produces no bycatch and no habitat damage.  WWF verifies 100% traceability from boat to package.

We make our own vegan Flax “Mayo” so that factory farmed eggs don’t sneak in via conventional mayo.  Most of our ingredients are certified organic and any that are not are otherwise guaranteed GMO free.

And we have thought this through to the end by serving our amazing wraps in old fashioned If You Care waxed paper:  No single use plastic!

We hope you enjoy our delicious real food and the convenience of grab and go!

Egg SaladTuna SaladCheese & Green AppleRoasted Pepper & Hummus
🥕
*Eggs, *Spring Mix, *Potatoes, Mix Veggies, Eggless Mayo, Salt, Pepper.Sustainable Raincoast Tuna, *Spring Mix, *Potatoes, Mix Veggies, Eggless Mayo, Salt, Pepper.*Cheese, *Apple, *Spring Mix, Eggless Mayo, Mustard.*Roasted Peppers, Hummus, *Spring Mix, *Chickpeas.

IndianLife Tortilla🥕, *Organic Spring Mix​🥕(Organic leafy greens), Chopped Veggies🥕 (*Bell Peppers, Red Onions, *Green Onions, *Celery, *Dill), Flax Mayo🥕 (Sunflower Oil, *Flax seeds, Vinegar, Mustard, Honey) Made in-house, Classic Hummus by Sunflower Kitchen🥕

Palm Oil Free | Cruelty Free | GMO-Free | *Organic | 🥕Vegan 

Available August 9, 2019

Musing on Coffee Tasting part 2

Resting Coffee Period

Did you know that coffee needs to rest for at least a day after roasting before its flavours fully emerge?  Like red wine needs to breath after opening, coffee needs to rest for 

Tasting is very, very context sensitive

The sequence of tasting coffees has a remarkable impact on the perception of taste.  Just like in music, certain notes together can be dissonant while apart they can be beautiful, coffee flavours can clash or compliment.  We have learned to try coffees in various sequences to verify our experience of the coffee.

The Grind Setting is Remarkably Important

I am frequently amazed at the impact of the grind setting in the cup!  When we train new people to assist in preparing tasting samples there are 2 factors that regularly .  The grind is a bit too coarse or a bit too fine.  The the grind even in making infusion (drip, french press, vacuum…  coffees! 

The Brewing Temperate is Remarkably Important

We recently had a technical problem with the brewer at the cafe that caused it to brew to hot by about 5 degrees F.  It scorched the coffee to the extent that we held off launching a new coffee until the brewer was repaired and re-calibrated.  The coffee was over-extracted, unbalanced and somewhat bitter.  The same coffee brewed at the correct temperature (we use about 200F) is balanced, smooth and pretty.

At the other end of the spectrum, brewing at a lower temperature results in under-extraction that tends towards sour undeveloped flavours.

 

 

Coffee Roast-dating indicates un-rested coffee as well as staling coffee

Birds and Beans Café’s Curator’s Corner

A richer taste, a richer earth®.
Greenpeace Tuna Ranking
Bean to Bar Chocolate
Organic Boreal Fruit Smoothie
Sunflower Kitchen non-GMO Vegan Soups

As Birds and Beans Café approaches its 15th year anniversary we decided to celebrate by launching our Curator’s Corner!  

Over the last 15 years we have searched high and low for products that exemplify our values and compliment our certified Bird Friendly coffee.  We have assembled ingredients bursting with natural flavours, that are healthy and are genuinely sustainably produced.  

In the complexity of real world label claims, we have developed several purchasing criteria.  Some are hard rules and others weigh one aspect against another:

Steadfast, unwavering commitment to

    • Certified Organic and Bird Friendly coffee
    • No ingredients with GMOs 
    • No items with palm oil
    • No factory farmed animal products
    • No drinks in plastic bottles
    • No single use plastic service items 

Additionally, where possible 

    • Certified organic ingredients
    • Local 
    • Independent
    • Responsible packaging

In celebration of our 15th year, we are assembling a corner in the café where you too can purchase the items we have found.  Over the next weeks and months, we will introduce items and explain why they belong in the collection. We’ll describe some of our menu items too.  

So join Birds and Beans Café as we celebrate our 15th year as we explore our Curated Collection of offerings.

Revised Blends for the Daily and Breakfast Coffees

Coffee Flower

As with many specialty organic crops, flavour profiles change year over year with growing conditions.  The “terroir” or the particular flavour characteristics due to the unique combination of location’s soil, precipitation, ecology, and cultivation can be revealed through careful roasting.  So each crop year, we adjust our roasting profiles for each lot to maximize the terroir. 

This can result in the opportunity to improve a roast or blend.  Such is the case with the Daily, a house coffee and the Bird Friendly Breakfast Blend.  

So Tuesday next week, the Daily returns as the café house coffee and it will become generally available.  It is balanced, has brown sugar sweetness and is fruity. The Mimico Joe will shift back to a feature coffee in the café.  

We are delighted with the revised Breakfast Blend!  It is mild and has dominant honeyed sweetness with baking spices.  

We have learned a lot about blending over the years.  We have learned that what intuitively seems might be great can actually be quite nasty. “Oh lets put the chocolate of this one with the fruit of another one.”  Sounds like a plan until it ends up tasting of tobacco and little else.  We just never know until we try. 

We have learned to try things that are not intuitively obvious and to be very methodical in our approach.  We have noticed that a coffee with a 1:1 blending ratio may be unpleasant while 3:1 is delicious.  We have learned that a mild coffee blended with a bolder coffee can taste bolder with less of the bold coffee in the mix.  Very counter intuitive.  

We are proud of our approach mixing up some luck, some intuition, some art, some methodology and some science.  We think you’ll enjoy the results in the new Daily and the new Breakfast Blends. 

Boreal Organic Fruit Smoothie with a Paper Straw

This year we kick it up a notch with Ontario’s Boreal Organic and Biodynamic Fruit and a Paper Straw!

If you’ve tried our organic fruit smoothie you know it is fabulous!  We had no idea we could make it even better until we were contacted by borealwinery.ca  Check out their website.  These folks are amazing!  And their fruit is phenomenal!

We now offer 2 options:  Banana Berry with organic bananas (obviously not from Boreal lol) and Boreal’s organic blueberries, organic strawberries, organic Saskatoon berries and organic peaches. We add certified non-GMO coconut milk, water and ice. 

And now our second option has 2 Ontario native berries in it: Haskap & Saskatoon berries!  It has Boreal’s organic Haskap (a tart native berry), Saskatoon berries (a sweet native berry), organic blueberries, and organic strawberries, and organic peaches.  We add certified non-GMO coconut milk, water and ice.   The colour is incredible!

$6.95/20oz

We are happy to top it off with a paper straw.  

Enjoy this great summer offering made with quality ingredients that exemplify our values:

100% organic fruit, sugar-free, vegan, non-GMO.

Oh! …and in case you haven’t heard, all of our cups, lids and paper straws are biodegradable. 

Cool Creek Artisanal Honey

Birds and Beans Café is excited to present our latest offering: Cool Creek Apiaries Honey in a 500 gram jar. We’ve been using Cool Creek Apiaries’ unpasteurized, pure and unfiltered bulk honey in our breakfast cookies for years. It is delicious!

While industry standard is to extract honey once per year and blend across wide regions, Cool Creek Apiaries extracts honey 6 times a year and preserves batches from each of their 10 bee yards in Mount Pleasant, Ontario.  Each batch has its own flavour and character and thereby exhibits the “terroir” of the specific yard.  If the bees are collecting nectar from late blooming summer wildflowers, that is what you’re going to taste!

Honey serves as another example of why labels and certifications matter. Honey with a label reading Canada No. 1 Grade Honey can have as little as 10% honey in Canada and it may be blended with honey from anywhere in the world. Ontario No. 1 Grade Honey is produced strictly in Ontario. In order for honey to be certified organic, it requires that all land within 3 km of the hives and bees must be non-agricultural or all certified organic agricultural – very difficult to do in Southern Ontario, so this one is not certified organic.

Most honey sold in grocery stores doesn’t contain any pollen, which means it isn’t real honey.  It may be made with other ingredients, like glucose and GMO corn syrup, and it is artificially flavoured like honey.  Honey that has no pollen cannot be traced to any particular region.  Here is one of many articles about fake honey.

By contrast, here is a beautiful photography exhibit of Roy Allemann and his bees. We know where Cool Creek Apiaries Honey is sourced – and we can taste it!

10th Spring Bird Festival at Samuel Smith Park

Thank you to Jessica Iraci for the beautiful poster this year!!!

Those of you in the Toronto Area, I encourage you to come out to the 10th annual bird festival at Samuel Smith Park on Saturday May 25th! 

It is a wonderful event with hourly guided bird walks to help you connect with the phenomenon of bird migration.  Everything we do at Birds and Beans is to support the forest eco-systems where most of these birds spend their winters.  

We will be serving our certified Bird Friendly® coffee for $2/cup with all proceeds donated to CCFEW.   We sponsor all the bird walks that CCFEW conducts at the festival and throughout the year.  We appreciate that they help us all connect the birds we see with how the coffee we drink impacts their survival.

So for the 10th year, we will be there to talk about what matters to us: birds, nature, ecology, biodiversity and great coffee, and how they all interrelate.  Hope to see you there!

Earth Day 2019

Howler Monkey on a Bird Friendly coffee farm in Nicaragua

This morning on Earth Day I awoke to an inbox full of “Earth Day” emails, all of which in one way or another trying to entice me to buy something from the sponsor.  

Is it just me or is this the opposite of what Earth Day is supposed to be?

As for us, we will continue making our incremental changes, continue to stand up for biodiversity, continue to stand up for habitat protection and continue to help in the climate change by supporting Bird Friendly coffee farmers.  

 

Climate Change and Bird Friendly Coffee

Bird Friendly® coffee is not just about birds!   Coffee cultivation is also entwined with climate change.  According to a recent paper by Dr. Robert Rice of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center,  Bird Friendly® coffee farms

    1. are better equipped  to withstand the effects of climate change than are conventional coffee farms, and
    2. help in the global fight against climate change through carbon sequestration.

Coffee producers are already experiencing the effects of climate disruption, including rising temperatures, distorted rain patterns and increased problems with pest and disease. Make no mistake, if left unchecked, all of these factors threaten your morning cup of coffee!

While the response of Big Agriculture is to engineer new coffee varietals that are hardier or more resistant to pests, it turns out that that coffee grown in a traditional agro-forest (aka Bird Friendly certifiable coffee) is already protected from much of the climate disruption challenge.  The forests protect against sudden temperature changes keeping the coffee trees cooler on warmer days and warmer on cooler days.  They protect the plants from damage caused by heavy rains by acting as an umbrella, prevent landslides after heavy rains and attract birds that help control pests.

But not only do Bird Friendly agro-forests provide resilience to climate change, they also mitigate it through carbon sequestration. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lists agro-forestry as a land use strategy to mitigate climate disruption. Although the level of carbon sequestration may be higher in other options, Bird Friendly coffee farms additionally preserve biodiversity and provide stable living income to growers. 

With benefits in both climate change mitigation and in resilience to climate disruption effects, Bird Friendly coffee is an excellent part of the climate change solution.  You can choose to support Bird Friendly growers by purchasing our certified Bird Friendly coffee!  It’s a way to treat yourself and do some good.

Win Tickets to Lakeshorts 2019!

Sample Entry

We are offering you a chance to win one of 2 pairs of tickets to the sold out Lakeshorts Film Festival!

We have been sponsoring the festival since it started 9 years ago.

The festival is a lot of fun! Walk the Blue Carpet and mingle with guests and filmmakers. There are refreshments from Steamwhistle, Redstone Winery and Trail Estate Winery. There will be food from local establishments.

Friday, May 3rd: Loved and Local  Screening (Casual Chic)

Saturday, May 4th: Gala Screening (Dressy Chic)

To enter the contest, take a pic of something you bought in the cafe and post it to Insta or Facebook between Saturday, April 13th and Sunday, April 28th. To qualify the post must contain the tags: @birdsandbeanscafe and #Lakeshorts2019

Contestants should indicate the night that you prefer to attend, with #LovedandLocal or #Gala in your social media post.

Winners will be announced on FB and Insta on Monday, April 29th. Send as many entries as you want!  We’ll choose the winners by chance or inspiration.

Proud Signatories

We humans share collective responsibility to protect the natural health of Ontario, Canada and the planet.

We are proud to join a group of distinguished Canadians: Indigenous groups, environmental groups and progressive businesses in signing a joint statement in response to the Ontario Government’s review of the Endangered Species Act.

We signed this for the Forests, and for the wetlands; for the wolves, the cougars and the caribou;  for the barn owls, the golden wing warblers and for the wood thrush with its beautiful haunting song. We signed for the monarch butterfly, the rusty patch bumble bee and the magnificent ancient snapping turtle. We signed for the long list of other plants, fish, reptiles, insects and mammals – all threatened or endangered by our actions. We speak for them and for the unborn generations of people who deserve to know the life that we love.

We need to act.  Now is not the time to look away.  Please join us.

Coffee Factoids

Flavour

  1. Coffee likes to rest after being roasted.  Flavours develop over 1 to 5 days after roasting and then fade slowly over the next 4-6 weeks.
  2. The oils in coffee are not oils… they are soluble and flavourful organic compounds.  
  3. Delicious coffee flavours turn rancid and taste bitter after between 8 and 12 weeks.  That is why we have always roast dated our coffee!  We were the first roaster in Canada to roast date our coffee back in 2003. 
  4. Bold coffee is not necessarily Dark.  Roasting coffee very dark can destroy the delicious flavour compounds and render them all towards charcoal.  Why use specialty grade coffee only to char the interest out of it?
  5. Coffee absorbs aromas! It should be stored away from other “smelly” things like onions and perfumed soap.  The fridge and freezer are full of random smells that can ruin your coffee.

Espresso

  1. There is no X in espresso 🙂
  2. Espresso is not a roast level, nor a kind of coffee.  Espresso is a method of preparation in which the hot water is pushed through the grounds under pressure.
  3. Crema in espresso decreases as coffee stales.  Robusta species of coffee creates more crema.  
  4. Espresso crema often has different taste and aroma characteristics than does the liquid.

Coffee Growing

  1. Commercially grown coffee is either Robusta or Arabica.  Robusta coffee is low quality and is bitter and unpalatable.  Quality coffee does not contain robusta coffee.
  2. Arabica coffee grows in equatorial mountainous regions.
  3. Specialty coffee is a technical term used in grading green beans.  
  4. Coffee is a shade loving understory tree.
Shade Grown Coffee at Gaia

REUSEit Travel Mug

Enjoy our great new reusable ceramic travel mug.  They are handsome and practical.  They hold a 16 oz beverage. The double insulating wall protects your hand from burns and insulates both hot and cold drinks.  
 
They are dishwasher safe.   And we have a pool of REUSEit travellers at the café so you can swap the used one in your car for a clean one in the cafe!  Or not.  
 
Birds and Beans writes the REUSEit Equation like this:
 

Musing on Coffee Tasting

We’ve been tasting a lot of coffee in the past week or two.  We have a a couple new crops coming online.  When the crop year changes, we need to adjust our roast profiles for the annual variation of characteristics.  We roast and compare new crop to old crop on the same profile, and we tweak profiles until we arrive at a cup that we settle on for production.

Randy and I have been enjoying coffee tasting together for over 6 years.  We have formalized the process, but we don’t call it “cupping” because, for really good reasons, we don’t follow the that process.  Instead we developed our own tasting protocol that helps us explore our experience. Here are some of our interesting findings.

Tasting is Perception

Over the years we have noticed that I frequently identify almond in the coffee while Randy identifies vanilla, or I find basmati and Randy finds coconut.  When mentioned each of us can see the other. 
 
It is not being suggestible, it is a change in perception.  Like when looking at the “My Wife and My Mother-in-Law” cartoon and it suddenly changes from the young woman to the old woman and back.
 
Tasting is like that.  By changing perception, the same characteristics in the cup might present a different picture. 

… to be continued

Cartoonist William Ely Hill published 'My Wife and My Mother-in-Law' in the magazine Puck in November 1915 with the caption 'They are both in this picture — Find them.'

Introducing our New Organic-Fruit Smoothie!

Introducing our new smoothie made with certified organic fresh fruit.

We have developed the recipe and WOW is it fabulous!  

Made with organic blueberries, strawberries and banana, we add only certified non-GMO coconut milk, water and ice. $6.95/20oz

Enjoy this great summer offering made with quality ingredients that exemplify our values:

100% organic fresh-frozen* fruit, sugar-free, vegan, non-GMO.

Oh! …and in case you haven’t heard, all of our cups, lids and straws are biodegradable. 

* Fresh Certified Organic fruit portioned and frozen on-site

Protected Places Declaration

Preserving wild places on a Bird Friendly® coffee farm in Nicaragua

We are proud to announce today that we are an Endorsing Organization of the Protected Places Declaration. This Declaration urges the Ontario and Canadian Governments to to protect at least 17 percent of the Canada’s land and inland waters by 2020. Both Governments have already committed to this target, now it is up to us to help them keep their promises. Too often, we all agree to do the right thing, only to have it fail during the implementation – we must not let it fail this time. We must protect our wilderness while we still have a wilderness to protect.

Why does this matter?

In Canada, we have been blessed with an abundance of Natural Resources and we have built one of the world’s leading economies by harnessing those resources and, until now, we have done so with little regard to how much of those resources we have consumed in the process. It has been like a party that never ends. One day, the party will be over. Our land and water sustain us. They are part of a complex system that produce our food, water and the air we breathe. How much can we destroy before everything collapses?

Why is Birds & Beans taking a position?

We know what you are thinking – we roast coffee, so why do we care about protecting land and water? Well, a little over 15 years ago, we chose to create a company that could demonstrate that it is possible to have a company that helps to protect the environment and make a living doing so. Protecting habitat is one of our core values and we are always looking for ways to do this, whether big or small.

Our core product, Certified Bird Friendly coffee, preserves valuable habitat with every bag we sell. This habitat provides homes for many creatures – including essential winter habitat for our migratory songbirds – and hence its name. Preserving that habitat has an impact far beyond the forests of South & Central America as it helps to preserve the populations of songbirds and that are now returning to their North American breeding grounds.  The more of our coffee that you buy, the more habitat we save. Together, we can make a real difference.

Other companies don’t do this – you will see larger companies make some token gestures but they hide behind the veil of “maximizing shareholder value” as a reason for not doing more. We take a broader view of shareholder value and some of our shareholder value resides in the forests, parks and gardens of North, Central and South America. We ask other companies to join us as we can’t do it alone.

Want to help?

Sign the petition and share it with your friends and ask them to sign too. More information is here.

Have your group or company join other forward looking organizations and become a Protected Places Partner

For those of you who live in Ontario – there is an election taking place – ask your candidates if they will support the Protected Places Declaration if they are elected. Let them know it matters – we will be expecting the next Government to make sure this target is met.

Ottawa Valley Blend

While enjoying your next cup of coffee, why not support the Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre?  We donate $1.50 from each bag sold to OVWBCC  who care for ill, injured and orphaned wild birds found within the community and releases them back into the wild.  Of course the coffee is certified Bird Friendly, because caring for the birds extends to conserving their habitat in Central and South America.

Enjoy this coffee at full or 3/4 strength.  It has a lovely sweet aroma, with tropical fruit and chocolate in the cup. It is a lovely smooth coffee with a long sweet aftertaste that rings pleasantly in the pallet after the cup is gone.

Great For Nature
Great for Farmers
Great for You

Brew this 3/4 or full strength for best effect.

Regular Coffees

Decaffeinated Coffees

We are committed to our co-workers!

We are committed to a shared future with our co-workers.  Employees who demonstrate commitment and leverage to the team, and who are devoted to our values, are eligible to participate in a  generous employee ownership program.  This program is designed to be available to all long-term employees and offers meaningful equity with no upfront money investment.

Employee owners are shareholders with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities.  All employee owners participate in the ownership board that is responsible for strategic decision making. This includes how to invest and distribute profits, what risks to take, and, within the confines of our values, setting the direction of the business.

This structure provides real and significant rewards for hard work and innovation.  In employee opportunity, Birds and Beans soars above the crowd!

Look, See the Bird!

Look, See The Bird!

 
$16.50

by Bill Wilson (Author and Birds & Beans USA Founder), Katie Fallon  (Author), Leigh Anne Carter (Illustrator).

Look, See the Bird! is a beautifully illustrated children’s book which seeks to not only promote curiosity in children about the natural world around them, but also to establish the universal quality of having a connection with nature.

Look, See the Bird! follows children in a variety of locations, all of whom are learning about local birds and their habits.  One of them is nearby our café in Toronto.

Amplify your Coffee Drinking Experience

Our coffee growers are on the front line preserving forest ecosystems.  Bird Friendly coffee cultivation has lower yield than conventional coffee, but look at all the good it does!  All of these pictures were taken on Bird Friendly coffee farms.  

Every pound of coffee we sell preserves 147 square ft of forest habitat.  A subscription of a pound a month maintains 1760 square feet of this forest!  That is about the size of a city lot.  One person can do that by choosing certified Birds Friendly coffee.

Amplify your coffee drinking experience.  Our coffee is:

  • Grown in natural forest.
  • Expertly roasted to reveal hidden flavours.
Strength without bitterness,
Mellow without weakness.
 
~Birds and Beans

Birds and Beans Gives more than a Hill of Beans

Pine Warbler taken on the April 2016 Bird Walk Sponsored by Birds and Beans.

As a family owed small business, our donation history punches well above our weight class.  In addition to supporting the suppliers who provide us with products and services that embody our values, we also generously support initiatives that

    1. are aimed at preserving and restoring habitat for birds and other wildlife;
    2. add value to our community and are conducted within the immediate vicinity of the café.

We donate to Ontario Nature and Bird Studies Canada as a portion of sales of their special edition coffees.  While our coffee sourcing supports biodiversity in coffee growing regions, they preserve support wildlife habitat here at home.

In our local community, we donate generously to our long term partners: Mimico-by-the-Lake BIA, Citizens Concerned about the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW), and Lakeshore Arts  Their community building efforts are much appreciated and we enjoy long term friendship.

If you have a donation request, please tell us how we can become long term friends and let us know how your initiative preserves habitat, or how it builds community here in Mimico.

Birds and Beans are proud founding sponsors of Lakeshorts International Short Film Festival

Biodegradable Straws: Its the Little Things

A Brief History of the Modern-Day Straw, the World’s Most Wasteful Commodity
A Brief History of the Modern-Day Straw, the World’s Most Wasteful Commodity

Some of you might recall the viral video of the sea turtle who was lucky enough to have the plastic straw lodged in its nose removed.

An article was brought to my attention today entitled “A Brief History of the Modern-Day Straw, the World’s Most Wasteful Commodity“.  While others might look at the pictured straws and see pretty colours, I see, and feel, the pain and suffering caused by single use plastics.  

The straws at Birds and Beans Café are biodegradable.  We do not offer anything in single use plastic … including water.  Our single use cups, lids, straws and cutlery are all biodegradable.  

We pay several times more for our biodegradable straws than we would for plastic straws.  For us plastic straws are not an option.  

The real price of plastic straws is not in the sticker price.  No-one in the supply chain, including the end user, pays the real price for single use plastics.  Instead, the enormous price is paid in the suffering of the worlds creatures and in the ever increasing stresses borne by the web of life.  

The remains of a baby albatross and the contents of its stomach.

While writing this, I reread this throwback to 2012 when I banished the last plastic from our offerings.   

At Birds and Beans, we incur the higher cost for a biodegradable straw, which is, in my assessment, much better value.

 

Our Values

Birds and Beans was conceived as an expression of our personal values.  In founding Birds and Beans, David and I decided that we would buck the most powerful trend in the current culture – the one that dictates that we must maximize monetary return at the cost of everything else.

By contrast, we steadfastly defend the values of product quality, ecological sustainability and quality of life, despite a lower financial return. Yes, that’s right. We dare to put our values before money: we value our values!  And it is a real financial investment.

Cheese and Dill Scone

*Flour, *Butter, *Sugar, Honey, *Yogurt, *Eggs, *Cream, *Cheese, *Dill, Baking Powder, Salt

* Organic Ingredients

We continuously strive to expand our understanding of the impact of human activity, and we use our choices to withdraw our support from those conventional processes that have monstrous consequences1. Instead, we throw our support behind processes and supply chains that are aligned with our values.  Conventional suppliers may not miss our business, but alternate suppliers do feel our support!

We know that many of you look for meaningful opportunities to express your values, and we hope you will engage with us in our endeavor.

Our values express themselves in everything we do, including:

From Organic Meadow's "Meet Esther: An Organic Cow Story"

We choose to operate a business that is mission based and we accept the enormous increase in complexity that this requires. 

We reach out directly to our heroic growers who are on the front lines in defense of the remaining forests in coffee growing regions. We support them with prices that sustain them and their families.  We form and nurture long term relationships with them. They are secure in future sales from us, and we depend on them for our ongoing supply of their meticulously tended coffees. 

We celebrate our support of several dozen small suppliers and not of Costco, Sysco, or Gordon even though it results in a tremendous increase in complexity.

Instead of ordering from 1 or 2 suppliers who provide whatever is needed that week, we manage inventory levels from over 30 suppliers, each with different order cycles, balancing minimum order requirements with spoilage, and delivery charges with the cost of product.  Each supplier maintains their specific payment and delivery terms.  Each supplier has their own shortages, which are much more common from our suppliers than conventional suppliers, because each of them face similar difficulties as do we. All this requires a constant resource stream to monitor and manage.

We do this happily in support of our like-minded suppliers who need our support to maintain and strengthen their part in alternate supply chains.  We offer them our support by accepting the inconvenience and complexity and by paying them higher prices.

We do most of our baking in-house from scratch because it is not possible to offer fresh, quality products that embodies our values any other way.  

We teach our staff about our values, and we ask them to support them with their best efforts.  We offer noticeably higher compensation than most foodservice employers.  We meet or exceed all the standards set in Ontario’s Employee Standards Act. We are a team and sustainability must apply to all of us or it isn’t really sustainable, is it?

So that’s it.  Could we make more money? Yes. We could drop any one of our commitments and make more money tomorrow. Would we even consider it? No. We are not trying to maximize profit. We are trying to maximize value… and we measure value with more than just money.  

    1. Monstrous consequences like the appalling suffering inflicted upon factory farmed animals, the starvation of baby albatrosses whose parents see shiny plastic as fish, the burning of entire forest ecosystems in Indonesia to grow Palm so “big food” can have “cheap” oil.

Reflecting on 5 (now 7) Years being Palm Oil Free

Update: Now 7 years in and holding steadfast. Have you noticed our treats taste better too?

Warning!  These images reflect the consequences of our blind consumerism. 

Whether you join us or not, we are not buying anything with palm oil. Because we are not going to feed the monster.

Single organgutan in the last tree standing after deforestation for palm oil
Palm oil is UBIQUITOUS! It the preferred oil for the 10 Food companies responsible for almost all global brands

Most of you will not be able to watch this.  If you can even bear to scan this article about the film you may be forever changed.

” ‘She has lost everything’: Filmmaker’s heart-wrenching documentary shows tragic final hours of orangutan’s life as her rainforest home is ruthlessly destroyed”

On “Sustainable” Palm Oil, we say NO!

The palm oil industry responds to the resistance to palm oil claiming that we need palm oil and so it is better to produce it sustainably.  It is our position that sustainable palm oil is a ruse by “big agriculture” and “big food” to silence opposition and continue business as usual. Their so called certification fails all three tests of a credible certification:

    1. a public standard set to achieve a purpose with monitoring against its effectiveness
    2. chain of custody traceability
    3. verification by an independent third party

So called sustainable palm oil has none of these.  In our view even certified organic palm oil is rewarding what was appalling destruction 20 or 30 years ago.  It is not healthy and not necessary.  We say NO!

It has been 5 years since Birds and Beans Café went completely palm oil free.  David and I went palm oil free at home at the same time.  So we thought it would be interesting to discuss how its going with us as well as look at what has changed in the industry.

The palm oil problem is the shocking destruction of forests perpetrated in its production.  These forests are often taken from indigenous peoples without permission nor compensation and laid waste for all but the gluttonous palm oil industry.  Of special notice, is the horrifying pain and suffering faced by displaced animals, most of whom are endangered species.   I doubt most readers can tolerate looking at the images.  

When David and I came to understand this in 2012, at a visceral level, our resolve kicked in: Under no circumstances will we support this monstrous behavior!

So this is not a crusade, nor do I imagine our stance or communication will make a meaningful impact on the industry.  But my body and my soul ache for the pain we inflict, and I will not support it.  

Click through for a longer list

At first it was difficult to find products without palm.  Palm oil ingredients are UBIQUITOUS!  And big food sneaks it into the ingredient lists so we have to learn to recognize it.

Once we understood that “vegetable oil” is a cover for palm oil, we realized that palm is in most processed foods (and most consumer soaps and cleaners).  For health reasons we were also motivated to reduce salt and we noticed that most processed foods are loaded with salt (and sugar) too.  It was overwhelming!  Where to begin!  

We took a step at a time approach.  We looked at

  1. what we purchased the most
  2. what we didn’t need

We found processed foods that use sunflower, safflower or other explicitly stated oil1.  You won’t find these at the 7-11, but most responsible grocery stores have something.  We continued item by item.  

Over time, perhaps a year, we found we were preparing our own food again.  This would have seemed impossible at the beginning of this process, but by changing one thing at a time, it happened on its own.  We shifted our shopping from the big grocery retailers to smaller organic grocers.  Interestingly, by bringing our food preparation back in-house, we found it was less expensive too!

We noticed that the huge loads of sugar, salt and fats in processed foods dull our flavour pallets, so it took some time for our pallets to recover back to full taste sensitivity. Now, I just cannot eat a conventional tomato… they are bland and pithy.  

The food processing industry has convinced us that we need them, but we don’t.  The cost of outsourcing our food preparation is extremely high and it does not save as much time as we imagine.  We have now established new shopping habits and we support local grocers and organic production. Preparing food has shifted to a shared pleasure followed by the shared delight of real flavours! My fear of living on chickpeas and rice was utterly unfounded…Quite the opposite! That fear was planted by big food to keep me addicted to their low quality, bland, unhealthy food that is engineered to their lowest cost.  

And by their lowest cost, I mean the unfathomable cost of the utter destruction of entire ecosystems and the human and animal inhabitants. The cost of life on earth.  And the cost of all of us becoming monstrous.  Cheap oil?  Really?

If you got to here, now you know.  You can never go back.  What you do now is who you are.

  1. Since banning palm oil from our diet and the café, we have since banned GMO foods.  Over 90% of canola oil is GMO, so now it is banned from our diet and the café too.

 

Now Serving Cheese and Dill Scone!

We are proud to offer this unique scone made with all organic ingredients.  What a delicious and beautifully textured scone it is!  Great for breakfast or lunch.

The organic ingredients mean that it, like all of our baking, our great new scone is 100% GMO free and 100% cruelty free.  These important qualities are shared by everything we bake. 

We believe that honouring our core values results in better taste and better health.  

 

Cheese & Dill
Scone

GMO free, Palm Oil Free, Cruelty Free, mostly Organic

*Flour, Baking Powder, Salt, *Butter, *Eggs, *Organic Sugar, *Cream, *Cheese, *Dill

* Organic

Certified Organic Coffee is a Big Deal!

All our coffees have the Canada Organic logo.

Certified by Ecocert Canada

Above shows how our packages display the Canada Organic logo with reference to our certifier, Ecocert Canada.  It is not legal to display the Canada Organic logo on a package without referencing the accredited certification body.

You can be confident about the legitimacy of products sold in Canada if the product label

  1. shows the Canada Organic logo along with the certifying body; OR
  2. it shows the organic logo of one of the CFIA accredited bodies (such as Procert or Ecocert)

From the CFIA FAQ: “[Understanding] these regulations enable consumer protection against deceptive and misleading labelling practices and claims regarding organic products.” The CFIA vigorously defends the use of its logo and the certifying bodies are always willing to provide credentials for any product bearing their name as a certifier.

By the way, if you ever see a product with a Canada Organic logo without the certifier, you should report it to the CFIA. Such violations are rare, and sometimes inadvertent, but the integrity of the system relies on all of us participating and being vigilant.

Our 2016-2017 Organic Certificate

When we say our coffees are Organic, we mean all of our coffees are certified organic 1 by Ecocert Canada.

All our coffees are certified organic: we offer no conventional coffee. Many coffee marketers include some organic coffees in their line, while deliberately making no comment about the conventional ones, in hopes that the organic ones will “greenwash” their line. Others claim that their coffee is organic while not submitting to the costly and rigorous verification process of certification.  Sadly, in Ontario, due to a lack of commitment to the Canadian Organic standard from our provincial legislators,  this is not prohibited and leads to much confusion and abuse.

All of our offerings bear the organic Canada Organic Logo. And bearing the Canada Organic logo is a big deal!

Organic drying patio with our Nicaragua Wood Thrush

Organic certification is a rigorous process.  Obviously starting with certified organic beens is a prerequisite. Beyond that, we are required to keep accurate, retrievable records of all purchases, all roasts, all packaging, all spoilage and all sales of organic coffee.  Our practices must comply with the  Organic Products Regulations, 2009 as governed by the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA).  We are required to comply with Canada’s Organic Labeling Laws, our trade documents are subject to strict regulation, and we are subject to inspection and regulation by an accredited Organic Certifier who is responsible to ensure our compliance.

Our certifier, Ecocert Canada is one of about 20 organizations in Canada accredited by the CFIA to bestow the Canada Organic seal on compliant organic products.  At our cost, Ecocert Canada conducts an annual audit in which they review our internal documentation, trade documents, practices and procedures, labels, and inventory and more, all to ensure our compliance with the Canada Organic Standard. In our annual audits, we must prove compliance with record keeping rules and standards.  We must demonstrate compliance with record keeping requirements.  Auditors conduct spot exercises to demonstrate completeness and accuracy of all of our records. They reconcile inputs, outputs and check that all inputs arrived with compliant packaging and with rigorous documentary credentials.

All of our sales must be likewise documented and packaged. All of our labels must be approved by Ecocert who ensure they meet labeling rules, that the package claims are correct, and that internal and trade documents are all in alignment.

The system works because all participants in the chain are subject to this scrutiny.  I trust that the inputs into my process comply with the organic standard because they too were rigorously verified by independent, 3rd party accredited bodies.

We at Birds and Beans are proud to support the chain of organic certification. We strongly believe in third party certification.  Certifications are a way for us to participate in a voluntary chain of trust while harnessing third party verification.

On certification, we are soaring above the crowd™.

 

1 Certified organic products are
  1. produced in compliance with published international organic definitions
  2. traceable throughout even global supply chains
  3. are verified for compliance by accredited 3rd party auditors

Misleading Menus

  Last week, news surfaced that a Toronto Restaurant was misleading its customers by claiming that dishes and certain ingredients were special in terms of

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Now Shipping with New Bird Friendly Logo!

Smithsonian_BFH_Logo_Gold_Solid
The Bird Friendly Logo is Changing

Look for the new Bird Friendly logo on all of our coffees.  They are ALL certified organic coffees grown in Certified Bird Friendly Habitat!

Today we start shipping with the new Bird Friendly logo!  We are thrilled that the new logo now appears on both the front and back of all of our coffees.  

Bird Friendly is the only certification that takes organic coffee to the next level: It guarantees that our “shade grown” coffee is not just a claim on a label, but is certified to provide quality wildlife habitat.  

Bird Friendly coffee and quality habitat as far as the eye can see.
Certified Organic and Bird Friendly coffee cultivation looks like this!

When you purchase coffee that is certified organic and shade grown by the SMBC you have the assurance of the Smithsonian Institution that you are conserving wildlife and biodiversity.   ALL of our coffees have the seal… every cup of Birds and Beans coffee you drink is a gift of habitat to the world.  

 

/ Posts, Sustainability
Meet the New Bird Friendly Seal!

Meet the New Bird Friendly Seal!

The New Bird Friendly Seal The Smithsonian Seal appears in the new logo. We say goodbye and thank-you to the ... Read More...
/ Bird Friendly, Posts, Sustainability
What is Bird Friendly Coffee?

What is Bird Friendly Coffee?

Bird Friendly coffee is grown in a forest! ... Read More...
/ Posts, Sustainability
Bird Friendly® Certified Coffee according to Dr. Robert Rice

Bird Friendly® Certified Coffee according to Dr. Robert Rice

Quality habitat for as far as the eye can see! As we near the end of the summer, many of ... Read More...

Why we avoid Almonds at Birds and Beans

It might be impossible to always eat ethically, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try – National Post

“[Almonds] are also contributing to drought problems in California. Eighty per cent of the world’s almond supply comes from the state experiencing its worst drought on record. A report published by The Watershed Agricultural Council found that a single almond takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce. […] California almond farmers are drilling thousands of feet down into aquifers to pump out water, threatening critical infrastructure like bridges, roads and irrigation canals, and even potentially triggering earthquakes.” ~ National Post

We consider a lot of factors when choosing our products.  Being committed to health, community and sustainability requires balancing of many factors.  

We were pleased to see 2 recent articles (Toronto Star, and National Post) addressing decision making with more sophistication than considering a single factor.  

For example, is it better to purchase organic produce that has travelled a thousand miles and is packaged in clamshell plastic than it is to purchase uncertified product from a farmers market?  

Off hand, I don’t know.  I would have to balance the factors and make a decision.  In my view, it is more meaningful to go through the process of weighing the factors than it is to “get the right answer”.  Strengthening our ability to make fuzzy assessments with contrary impacts is itself meaningful.

So for me, there is no right and wrong.  There is trying and not trying. 

In our trying, we have chosen to remove our organic almonds from our baking.  We have replaced them with conventional hazelnuts.  

California’s Drought May Be Worst in a Millennium ~ Scientific American

“Their analysis showed that a number of other droughts in California’s history had less precipitation than the one the state is currently experiencing. However, the most recent drought stood out because of how exceptionally hot it was compared to other droughts over the past 1,200 years.” ~ Scientific American

Why? Because we believe that the drought in California, where 80% of the worlds almonds are grown, is a factor that should be weighted very heavily.  

As for conventional hazelnuts, there is much to their credit. We prefer their flavour!  They are amazing in our breakfast cookie. 

Hazelnuts are native to Canada and grow here in Southern Ontario.  We have one in our garden at home (hey!  Maybe we should add one to our café garden!).  They offer Ontario growers a specialty crop that can reduce dependence on the forces of “Big Food“. While most hazelnuts are grown in Turkey, market pressures are increasing demand for Ontario hazelnuts.  We are now part of that pressure.

And the health and nutritional benefits of hazelnuts rivals those of almonds.

So that’s it!  We are off almonds and on hazelnuts.  Check our ingredient lists for them at the café.

Our Free Shipping Deal!

When birds migrate home, so does Birds & Beans coffee.
 
Celebrate spring migration with Free Shipping on Roasted coffee* orders over $45.
 
And to make it even better, we’re extending the offer to all orders over $45 that contain at least 1 lb of Roasted Coffee.
 
For example:
An Aeropress + 1 lb of Roasted Coffee = Free Shipping
A 5 lb bag of green coffee + 1 lb of Roasted Coffee = Free Shipping

* Offer applies to ground shipping to destinations within Canada only. Canada Post Air Stations excluded.

GMO Free Eats

At Birds and Beans, it is our pleasure and our aspiration to harness all of our resources and efforts to do better.  And for us, better means in alignment with our core values: quality of life, sustainability, richness of experience, and community.

We express this in our handmade food: all of our ingredients are 100% GMO free.  

Our reasons are simple: Genetically Modified Organisms are developed by “Big Ag” (big agriculture) for “Big Food“.  Their only interest is profit.  I do not have a problem with profit, I just have a problem when the pursuit of profit is at the expense of all other factors, has negative impacts or risks.   

In the case of GMOs, the scientists working for “Big Ag” developed strains of agricultural products like corn and soy, with the sole purpose of withstanding higher applications of agrochemical inputs.  It works nicely for them as they both sell the seeds and sell the chemicals.  

Lest there be any reader who is under the impression that current levels of agrochemical application are sustainable, pesticides and chemical fertilizers wreak havoc on ecosystems as do fertilizers.

Nor are GMO crops necessary.  Leading expert Pablo Tittonell advocates intensification of agriculture by making optimal use of natural processes and the landscape to meet the worlds growing demand for food.  See his TED talk here.

On the GMOs themselves, in matters of unknown and unknowable risk, I am an advocate of the “precautionary principle“.  Those who profit the most from GMOs claim that their genetically modified organisms represent incremental change on selective breeding is disingenuous and is intended to deflect scrutiny. The reality is that the risks of this revolutionary technology not understood by policy makers and are generally unaddressed by GMO patent holders.  See this insightful article.

Further, the GMOs that “Big Ag” have chosen to produce are motivated by their quest to maximize profits and not by the public good.  For those of us who may think that this is a small problem and that most of the food in the food system is not GMO, almost all big food contains GMO ingredients. It has taken considerable effort and focus to ensure no GMO ingredients creep into Birds and Beans. 

And Finally, GMO crops have failed to meet their promise. An extensive examination by The New York Times [reveals] genetic modification […] has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides.

GMO’s are designed to benefit “Big Ag” profit takers.  They have no obvious benefit to the public.  They are just not worth the risk.

At Birds and Beans we use 100% of our choices to support our values, and in this case, be assured that no food item prepared in Birds and Beans contains GMO ingredients.  We may be a tiny family owned and operated company, and we have no illusions about changing the trajectory of “Big Ag” and “Big Food”, but we do steadfastly oppose the trend through mindful disengagement from “Big Food”. 

 

Roast your Own Green Coffee at Home

Coffee beans drying in the Sun in Nicaragua
Green coffee beans ready for roasting

As Coffee Roasters, we know green coffee beans. Green coffee beans are our raw material. Great roasted coffee can only come from great green coffee.

Our beans have been carefully selected so that we can offer a full range of coffees to sell online, serve in our cafe, and deliver to our wholesale partners. We’ve spent the past 15 years refining our choices of beans so that we have the highest quality specialty grade Certified Organic, Bird Friendly and Fair Trade Arabica beans available anywhere. These are the ones that we sell for for you to roast at home.  No old crop specials, no cheap or tainted beans. People often comment how clean and defect free our beans are when they first see them. You can see the quality as much as you can taste it.

 Our prices are competitive, especially when you consider the quality, sustainability and ethical values – and you can also order the same coffee roasted by us to use as a benchmark for your roasting. We ship across Canada from our Toronto area Roastery.
 
So whether you are roasting on your stove using a popcorn popper, on a BBQ or using a small home roaster, you can easily start with the best beans and feel good knowing that with every cup, you are helping to conserve vital habitat and supporting small family farms in coffee growing regions.
 
You’ll spend a lot of time roasting your coffee, make sure you start with the best beans. To see our current selection and to place your order, please click here. For those of you near us in Toronto, we stock the 1 lb and 5 lb sizes at our Café

 

Meet the New Bird Friendly Seal!

The New Bird Friendly Seal
156px-Smithsonian_logo_color.svg
The Smithsonian Seal appears in the new logo.
We say goodbye and thank-you to the Old Seal

Have a look at the new Bird Friendly logo… the seal that represents the gold standard of forest habitat.

There are several things worth pointing out in this logo.  We love that it illustrates several aspects of good habitat, like a variety of species, varied heights, and dense coverage.

The change in phrase on the seal from “Bird Friendly” to “Bird Friendly Habitat” points to the “friendliness” of Bird Friendly coffee: that it is grown in forest and preserves that habitat (see our post “What is Bird Friendly Coffee”).

Bees nesting in a fallen tree on a Bird Friendly Coffee Farm

We strongly support the refocusing on habitat:  Forest habitat is not just for the birds!  Forests are the lungs of the world.  Bird Friendly habitat is a functioning, biodiverse ecosystem that supports and is made up of a web of inter-connected creatures, like monkeys and butterflies and beetles and native trees and plants and… oh… our wintering migratory songbirds.

It is also great to see the seal of the Smithsonian Institution within the logo.  The Smithsonian Institution is one of the worlds most respected knowledge organizations.  It is world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoo.  The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) is a department within that most prestigious organization. It is the scientists at the SMBC who developed and who administer the Bird Friendly® certification.

When you purchase coffee that is certified by the SMBC you have the assurance of the Smithsonian Institution that you are conserving wildlife and biodiversity.  And ALL of our coffees have the seal… every cup of Birds and Beans coffee you drink is a gift of habitat to the world.  

After proudly displaying the old logo for 15 years on our coffees we hope you will join us in congratulating the SMBC on the introduction of their new seal.  We use it throughout this website and we will be transitioning our packaging within the coming weeks.

Fallen flowers in the dappled shade on a Bird Friendly coffee Farm
Baby hummingbirds on a Bird Friendly coffee farm.

Show us your Mimico Joe!

Show us your Mimico Joe! Use the hashtag #MimicoJoe to be entered in our monthly draw for Birds & Beans Gift cards and Mimico Joe T-shirts. 

Mimico is our home and we love it, which is why it deserves to have its very own coffee blend. Let’s celebrate it.

Share your pics of Mimico, Birds and Beans coffee cups, Birds and Beans coffee bags.  Be sure to tag them #MimicoJoe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to enter. All winners must be able to pick up their prize in person at our Café … in Mimico.

And the t-shirt! It’s a good one:  made in CANADA out of an Organic Cotton/Bamboo Blend and is available in Men’s and Ladies’ styles for only 24.95 each! 

Introducing Mimico Joe

A muskrat in Humber Bay Park.
About 15 years ago, we established Birds and Beans on the shores of Lake Ontario in Mimico.   Although at that time Mimico was rather down on its luck, battered by the loss of its industrial base and suffering from the lure of malls and big box stores, we fell in love with soul of Mimico.
The now demolished building has become the site of Mimico Square.

We saw a diverse neighbourhood full of hard working, long term residents who shared a connection with the lake, a pride in what had come before, and vision of the future. So we set down our roots and began working towards that future. And then around us, slowly at first, then more and more, Mimico began to thrive! The neighbourhood feels energized by life in the new condominums, and the residents are enjoying the ever improving Mimico waterfront, new storefronts, and Mimico’s evolving character.  

We are expressing our love of Mimico by introducing a coffee blended and named for our ‘hood!  Perhaps the first coffee to celebrate its home neighbourhood, Mimico Joe is approachable, unpretentious, authentic, solid, and full of interest… just like Mimico.

We also offer Mimico Joe t-shirts for those of us who are proud Mimico Joes.

A great shot of the cafe by photographer Justin Blathwayt.

Café by the Lake Menu Choices

Sunflower Kitchen Soups

Come in to Birds and Beans Coffee and treat yourself to something special! Our coffees are all certified organic, bird friendly,  and fairly traded, boutique coffees. We use Organic Meadow Milk in our latté and cappuccino. Treat yourself with 100% shade grown shaved chocolate on your specialty drink. Even our milk table offers organic milk and sugar. We’re the real deal!

Choose one of Four Freshly Roasted Brewed Coffees

Every day we offer four brewed coffees. Our menu board identifies the coffees on brew and their roasted dates — always within the last few weeks.

Our house coffee, the Daily, is a certified Organic-Bird Friendly® coffee with enough interest for every coffee lover.

You can also choose from our daily Organic-Bird Friendly® bold coffeefeature coffee or decaf.

100% Bird Friendly, Organic Specialty Coffees with Organic Milk

screenshot-2016-12-07-10-44-53We offer the best espresso, latté, cappucino and americano in the city made from the only Bird Friendly espresso in Canada! We blend our espresso to compliment the flavours the organic milk in a latté or cappucino. Our baristas are trained to pour espresso perfectly every time so it has the great great crema and aroma with flavours of chocolate and malt from the approach to the finish.

Cruelty Free GMO Free Treats

We bake all of our treats from scratch daily using organic eggs from happy hens (see Chicken Out!), organic dairy from happy cows,  and 100% GMO Free ingredients. Our breakfast cookie is a daily favourite in the neighbourhood with rolled oats, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, honey and cranberries.  

Our chocolate chunk cookies are absolutely without rival! We use our shade grown Plantations Chocolate. We offer a the cookie with either milk or dark chocolate. What a treat!

Cruelty Free Light Lunch

For lunch we offer simple wraps and sandwiches with hand crafted Sunflower Kitchen GMO free vegan soups.

All are certified organic and, so cruelty free! No factory farmed product allowed. We use Raincoast tuna in our tuna salad, the highest ranking  sustainability grade from Greenpeace. Our egg salad is homemade from fresh certified organic cage free eggs so it is always fresh and tasty.  Even our cheddar cheese is certified organic from Quebec, and so produced from well treated animals.

We offer spinach empanadas from the Empanada Company in Long Branch. We love to keep it in the “hood”.

 

Share the Café you Love

giftcard

The link for cardholders to check balance and transaction history is here.

Many of you know that Birds and Beans café has offered gift cards for 12 years, but this year they are even better!  Our new gift cards have grown up from being administered manually, to an electronic debit card with great new features.

The gift card has the look and feel of gift cards from major retailers. This ensures your recipient will feel confident using the card, and you will be proud to give it.

Once activated, the card can be used at the cafe like a prepaid credit card.

The cards are reloadable, and a 10% discount applies to reloads. So your gift will extend throughout the year!

The card is secure, and transparent. The cardholder can view their current balance and historical transactions online. The cardholder simply enters their card number and their current balance is presented and a link is presented to access to the historical transactions.  The link for cardholders is here.

So isn’t it a good time to introduce your friends and family to your favourite café?

Bird Friendly® Certified Coffee according to Dr. Robert Rice

Quality habitat for as far as the eye can see!
As we near the end of the summer, many of us will be shifting our focus towards new routines at work or school. Similarly, many species of wild birds will shift their focus away from breeding and will put all their energy into reaching their wintering habitats in Central and South America.  Our migratory birds spend their winter months in the lush forests that provide the food sources and protection from predators that migratory birds need to thrive during our harsh winters.
 
In a recent interview available here, Dr. Robert Rice of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre (SMBC) describes the importance of forest grown coffee to migratory songbirds.  Dr. Rice points out that under the pressure of unsustainable agriculture, traditional forest coffee farms are often the last viable habitats available for migratory songbirds, monkeys, butterflies, reptiles and other organisms.  
 
The SMBC has characterized healthy functioning forest environments and they offer the Bird Friendly® coffee certification to coffee grown within them.  Dr. Rice notes the small proportion of world coffee that bears the Bird Friendly seal.  He humbly recognizes that as scientists the SMBC has created the certification, but do not have the marketing skills and channels to increase demand.  He asks that we, individually and collectively,  notice the opportunity to preserve and restore forest ecosystems in Central and South America by asking for coffee Bird Friendly® seal.
 
Or you can just buy it from us 😉   All our coffees are certified Bird Friendly.
bb_newlogoweb
Your source for Bird Friendly coffee
 

What is Bird Friendly Coffee?

Bird Friendly Habitat for as Far as the Eye Can See

We are frequently asked: “What exactly is Bird Friendly® coffee and why does it matter?”

Bird Friendly coffee preserves habitat for forest creatures in Latin America including our migratory songbirds. Coffee that is certified Bird Friendly grows in an agro-forest.  The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) certifies that these forests provide good habitat for wildlife.  

All Bird Friendly coffee is first certified organic, and then goes much further adding standards for shade cover, plant species diversity, canopy structure, required buffer zones, leaf litter cover and much more. These are all necessary for wildlife to flourish.  

Read more on Bird Friendly criteria here.

 

In Latin America, where most of our migratory songbirds spend their winters, deforestation for agriculture is happening at an alarmingly fast rate.  Forests are mowed down for monoculture and the impact on wildlife is devastating. Huge declines in our migratory songbirds are noticeable to those of us old enough to remember the plentiful songbirds here in Southern Ontario only 20 years ago.  You can help slow the rate of deforestation by purchasing Certified Bird Friendly coffee.  This supports those growers who valiantly maintain the front-lines of the resistance to this overwhelming destruction.

Bird Friendly farms provide habitat for a wide range of species, not just birds!
A hooded warbler finds a grub in a coffee forest
Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting migrating from Latin America to its breeding ground in Ontario

By choosing Bird Friendly certified coffee, we support the growers who steward forest ecosystems.  Beyond preservation of ecosystems and diversity of species, Bird Friendly stewardship also results in soil conservation,  pest control, pollination, water storage, carbon storage and climate change mitigation.  Preserving expansive and diverse forests in central and south America are necessary to world climate and the well being of global systems.  They have been called the lungs of the world and they mitigate climate change. Read more on ecological benefits here.

Sometimes the phrase “Shade Grown” is used on coffee labels as if it were equivalent to Bird Friendly.  Unfortunately, this is like accepting “natural” as equivalent to “organic”.  While Bird Friendly coffee is indeed “shade grown”, we need to go a bit deeper if we want to ensure our good will hits the target. It isn’t the shade that provides the habitat but the fact that Bird Friendly farms are functioning, biodiverse, forest ecosystems.   The SMBC developed the Bird Friendly coffee certification so we can confidently choose to support produces who grow their coffee in harmony with forest dwellers…  Forest dwellers like this troupe of howler monkeys David saw on a Bird Friendly coffee farm in Nicaragua.

Sales of Certified Bird Friendly coffee also help to fund the research performed by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This research advances the understanding of migratory birds that we need in order to preserve them for future generations. Look for the seal on the bags when you buy your coffee.  You will find this seal on all of our bags.

Why is Boxed Water Better?

At Birds and Beans we are forever expanding and deepening our commitment to sustainability. As we learn about issues and find solutions, we weave them into the fabric of what we do. Some years ago, we were struck by a beautiful impactful art project by Chris Jordan that beautifully exposed some consequences of thoughtless plastic waste. We posted this and never ordered water in plastic bottles again.

albatross-ocean-gyre-birds-pictures-04
The remains of a baby albatross and the contents of its stomach.

Birds and Beans is proud to be free from plastic bottles since May 2012.  The life cycle of a plastic bottle has harmful effects to the environment throughout every step of the chain: from formation to disposal. For more information on the life cycle of a plastic water bottle, check out this Ted-Ed video.

We are an official Quench Water Re-fill Location. Bring your reusable water bottle and we are happy to fill it up with filtered tap water. We offer a pitcher of iced water with glasses for customers to enjoy in the cafe. We also offer a bowl of water for the four-legged bunch.

Despite all of these options, people still want to buy water to go. We want to make you happy, so we investigated options to provide a take-out water option without contributing to the Garbage Patch, harming animals who mistake micro plastics for food or degrading the quality of the soil that supports us.

Boxed Water
Boxed Water is Better

The Boxed Water folks in Michigan came up with the great idea of offering water in boxes. Boxes are made from trees, which is a renewable resource. Conservation is important to them, so the trees being used come from well-managed forests. The cartons are 100% recyclable. Less resources are used when shipping the boxed packaging to the locations where water is filled compared to plastic bottles because boxes can be shipped flat. The water inside is purified with UV, carbon and reverse osmosis filtration. As a bonus, know that 1% of Boxed Water revenue is being donated to reforestation and world water relief.

Please enjoy our free filtered water. If you need to, enjoy Boxed Water knowing that it is a more sustainable option than anything packaged in a plastic bottle.

Misleading Menus

Last week, news surfaced that a Toronto Restaurant was misleading its customers by claiming that dishes and certain ingredients were special in terms of being premium, organic or local when they weren’t.

Factory farmed eggs were sold as “Free Range Eggs”, Farmed Atlantic Salmon was claimed to be “BC Organic Salmon” and Quaker Harvest Crunch was sold as “organic granola”. For more details, see the article from the Toronto Star

Many people are willing to pay a premium for special products such as these and so for the unscrupulous vendor, there’s an opportunity to increase price without increasing their costs by engaging in a little creative menu writing. We find this to be very disappointing and it raises the question of how can you be sure that the claims on a menu or a package are true?

There are two major ways to protect yourself from being a victim of false labels:

1) Look and ask for Certifications

While it is possible to claim that a product is certified when it is not, there are checks and balances in legitimate certification systems that help you determine that product claims have been verified.

In our case, we are a certified Organic Coffee Roaster and we publish our Organic certificate annually.  Our certifier, Ecocert Canada, verifies each organic claim we make. We are required to maintain meticulous records.  We are inspected and our records are checked every year to ensure we are compliant with Canadian Organic regulations. In the case of many certifications such Fair Trade and Bird Friendly, you can look up if the supplier is registered with the Certifier.

2) Ask about the Origins of the items

If a restaurant claims a product to be Organic or local or heirloom or special in any way, they should be prepared to explain the basis of the claim. So ask your server, if it is local, what farm did it come from? When? if it is organic, is it certified or how do they know it is really organic? The more people ask for details, the more difficult it will be for restaurants to mislead their customers.

Choosing sustainable, local, or artisanal foods can be rewarding in terms of tastes and the food experience and are often well worth the premium price, as long as we are getting the products that are being advertised.

Paris Climate Change Agreement – a Moment of Truth

2 ways to grow coffee
Coffee grown upslope provides habitat versus downslope sun coffee farm.
Many of the world’s companies pay no attention to how their supply chains are damaging forests, the Prince of Wales has warned as he urged action to stop deforestation.
At Birds and Beans our founding mission to preserve biodiversity directly supports climate objectives: preserving habitat is preserving forests.
https://www.killthekcup.org/single-post/2016/02/19/Is-there-a-serious-problem-with-coffee-capsules

 “It is my deep conviction that we have come up with an ambitious and balanced agreement. Today it is a moment of truth.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke these words as he declared that the Paris Climate Change conference known as COP21 had reached an historic multilateral agreement. It is our sincere hope that he is right and that people of all countries see this as a call to action — It is the beginning of a process, and not the end.

The agreement is significant – nearly 200 countries have committed to a goal of limiting temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, rather than the 2 degrees that appeared to be the target just two weeks ago. The agreement is the product of a lot of hard work by many people.  From where I sit it seems that much credit is due to French President Hollande and UN Climate Chief Christiana Figures. As Canadians, we are delighted to see a change in the position of the Canadian delegation from obstructionist to constructive.

Local Children try birding
Delighted children try birding on a Bird Friendly® coffee farm.

As important as this agreement is, it is just the beginning.  The work lies ahead and we will face many obstacles and difficult choices in pursuing it.  To achieve the goals set in Paris, we will need to use the agreement as a framework to help us maintain our collective resolve as we face the challenges of necessary change together. As consumers, we have a big impact on carbon emissions – we make choices with far reaching consequences when we spend our dollars. Consumers reward the behaviors of everyone in the supply chain with every purchase we make:  Participants in the supply chain do what the monetary rewards incent them to do.  To curb extreme climate change, we will have to change deeply embedded common practices by changing the influence of monetary rewards.  Taxing carbon will help with this and it can work more quickly and more effectively if we understand it and if we consciously support behaviors we want to encourage in supply chains.

At Birds and Beans our founding mission to preserve biodiversity directly supports climate objectives: preserving habitat is preserving forests.  And preserving forests has been identified in Paris as a critical component to achieving climate objectives.

Sadly, during the decade and a half that we have offered this climate and habitat friendly coffee, we have seen an explosion in demand for unrecyclable plastic single serve pods containing unsustainable sun grown coffee. Single use coffee pods are the source of a great deal of profit (coffee offered in pods nets out to about $50 per pound!) while convenience brands ignore adverse environmental impact of their coffee and other unsustainable food offerings.

We maintain that using a grinder, a kettle and a drip filter holder is just as convenient a method of brewing a single cup of coffee, but has the merit of supporting an entirely sustainable supply chain.  And the superior flavour in the cup is incomparable!  This is one example of the kind of change that we as citizens can make as climate objectives are pursued.  

Our government reached an agreement because they believed it to be an expression of our collective will.  As policy changes result in choosing sustainability over convenience, waste and unchecked growth, we will have to demonstrate our support.  Let us make sure that our commitment runs deep and that no future government will be tempted to break the agreement for their own short term political gain. 

We are the citizens of the world at a the moment of truth.  Collectively, the future is in our hands.

The Messenger

We’re delighted to introduce our second Special Edition coffee: The Messenger Blend, produced in association with The Messenger Documentary – a film by Su Rynard. While the full length documentary explores the impact of our activities on birds around the world, it also offers solutions and inspires its audience to become more “Bird Friendly”. The Messenger Blend is an important part of that program.

Coffee drinkers can make one simple and easy change that will help both birds and coffee farmers – choose to drink Certified Bird Friendly organic coffee. This will guarantee that vital winter habitat is preserved for our migratory songbirds and the other creatures inhabiting those forests. It does so by paying a premium to the farmers who steward the forests for the coffee grown within them. You can support them just by changing the brand of coffee that you drink, and, if you already purchase specialty coffee, it won’t cost more.

The Messenger Blend is sourced exclusively from Certified Bird Friendly Shade Grown Organic farms. Every bag you buy helps to preserve vital forest habitat for future generations. Since we here in Canada share these migratory birds with the people of Latin America, we’ve increased the impact of the Messenger Blend by donating 10% of all sales to Bird Studies Canada – Canada’s leading science-based bird conservation organization. Every bag you purchase will also be helping to promote conservation here at home.

The Messenger documentary is being released more widely and we encourage you to see it. 

For more information, visit songbirdsos.com

Grow a Tree in Your Cup

One of the best parts of my job is speaking to passionate people – people who are passionate about coffee and also people who are passionate about the environment.  Some people are passionate about both.

A few months ago, I had one of those conversations with Elaine Munro of Progressive Nutritional Therapies. They had been purchasing Birds & Beans Certified Bird Friendly coffee for their office and were using it to raise funds for a tree planting near the source of the Rouge River in North East Toronto.

In the office, they charge by the cup and were also selling jars of beans for brewing at home – and called it “Grow a tree in your Cup”. They are pretty big coffee drinkers over there because when it came time to plant – they had raised enough money to plant 513 trees!

In early May,  24 members of their staff along with family members turned out to plant a selection of native trees and shrubs that were selected to be appropriate for the river side site by Ontario Streams.

This is amazing – through this simple, yet creative program, they were able to both protect habitat in South and Central America by supporting Bird Friendly coffee growers, and improve habitat here at home in the Rouge River valley. Congratulations to all involved!

For the complete story see the Progressive Nutritonal Therapies Blog and for more information.

Coffee Bird Photo Post

As spring returns and our beloved migratory songbirds make their way back to Canada from their wintering grounds in Central and South America, we urge you to support them by purchasing certified Bird Friendly® coffee!

American Redstart
American Redstart

 

Our friend and supporter Vincent Falardeau would like to remind us of the beauty of the birds.  He has a permanent show of his photographs in our café.

Indigo Bunting _web II
Indigo Bunting

 

And we would like to remind you of the beauty of the coffee.

Black-throated Green Warbler_web
Black-throated Green Warbler

 

Lets do one simple act that sustains these beautiful birds and enriches our lives with a simple pleasure.

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

 

Help us help the birds.  Buy our certified Bird Friendly® coffee.

Black-throated Blue Warbler_1_1
Black-throated Blue Warbler

 

I Witness

(Warning…This poem is not for the faint of heart.)

the horror runs through my arms and legs
the ache fills my heart
the reality fills my mind
the finality pulls my gut
as the mass extinction ticks onward

largely unacknowledged and unnoticed
the tremendous specialty of form and of life
unappreciated
gasping in the loneliness of last pairings
doomed and hopeless

habitat consumed by unsustainable food and junk
hopeless and final in a way we do not conceive
not just death, but death of species, of kind
termination of lines of being
the final end of the rise from the muck
the endless creation that brought animation to matter
the interplay of mutually sustaining diversity
the dance of procreation

dying

while we decorate the packaging of our wasteful crap with their images
tasting not, feeling not, seeing not, living barely
and watch a horror movie to feel something
while failing to notice the life that yet is
in its intricate and living beauty
dying at our hand, utterly squandered

I witness
unshrinking
open heart experiencing
the “Sixth Mass Biological Extinction Event”

© Dragon Heart 2014