Saving birds, one cup of instant coffee at a time

Amelia Cooper
June 16, 2023
An image of BIrd & Wild Coffee recyclable coffee packaging, customised coffee bags, In an article on bird friendly instant coffee from Bird & Wild

The specialty coffee community is primarily known for two key characteristics: exceptional quality, and a complete commitment to sustainability. The pursuit of these long-standing targets has fuelled exceptional innovation in the industry. Beyond the surface-level implementation of carbon offsetting, specialty coffee roasters are pioneering nuanced, creative, and future-proof ways to protect the environment. 

A prime example of this signature approach is Bird & Wild Organic Coffee and the thoughtful approach that sets this sector apart. We spoke to the team about what it means to create bird-friendly coffee and how it benefits the environment. 

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How specialty instant coffee is gaining traction

In addition to its range of signature and seasonal medium and dark roasts, Bird & Wild is known for its premium instant coffee – two qualities that would usually be considered an oxymoron. Despite its reputation of lesser quality, and dull flavours and aromas, instant coffee is becoming increasingly popular. Thanks to developments made by brands such as Bird & Wild, instant coffee is fast becoming a specialty offering. 

The team at Bird & Wild explains how, in recent years, the methods for making instant coffee have developed significantly. “For a long time, a problem with instant coffee has been a lack of smell and mouthfeel. Notably, one of the largest complaints was that it just didn’t feel like a ‘regular’ cup of coffee.”

That said, the technology around instant coffee is always improving. For instance, the team at Bird & Wild can now add very finely ground coffee beans to instant coffee offerings. This gives the product a similar quality, character, and flavour profile to a traditionally brewed cup of coffee. As a result, specialty instant coffee has been experiencing consistent growth in popularity – a trend which shows no signs of slowing. 

An image of a bird friendly coffee plantation showing shade-grown coffee In an article on bird friendly instant coffee from Bird & Wild

The power of bird-friendly coffee

Beyond the pursuit of developing the finest instant blends, Bird & Wild is well-known for its pioneering bird-friendly coffee. So, what exactly does this look like in practice? ‘Bird-friendly coffee’ refers to coffee that is grown in a way that supports local bird species and has a minimal impact on the surrounding environment. 

An estimated 75% of the world’s coffee production actively destroys forest habitats and endangers millions of birds. This is due to a number of critical reasons: 

  • Deforestation and the consequent disruption or destruction of bird species’ natural habitats.
  • Reduction in the availability of nesting sites and food sources.
  • Shifts towards sun-grown coffee rather than shade-grown. Coffee was traditionally grown under a canopy of shade trees, which meant native bird species still had access to their habitat. However, modern sun-grown methods of coffee production have significantly reduced the amount of habitat space for birds.
  • Use of pesticides and herbicides.
  • Loss of biodiversity in plant species, as well as insects, fruits, and seeds in the area.
  • Disruption of migration pathways.

While both issues are of vital importance, the threat to bird life is far less cited than that of climate change. This is precisely why the work of providers like Bird & Wild is so essential. The brand is doing its best to not only preserve natural environments but also to bring awareness to the issue while making an impression on consumers. It is brands such as these that will help to shape much-needed shifts in consumer buying habits. 

To mitigate any negative environmental impacts, sustainable providers, such as Bird & Wild, are implementing a wide range of conscientious coffee practices. “Our coffee beans are Fairtrade, Organic, and Bird Friendly-certified. The Bird Friendly certification comes from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute,” the Bird & Wild team explains. 

“Their certification assures us that all the coffee we import is sourced from shade-grown coffee farms. This means the coffee is grown under a canopy of tall trees that are natural to the habitat, and that the coffee is certified organic.” Research shows vegetation surrounding the coffee often supports the natural habitat of over 200 species of birds alongside insects and small mammals. Alternatively, a sun-grown plantation only supports the natural habitat of 61 different species.

Alongside its direct work with its suppliers, Bird & Wild also supports the work of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), to further help conserve global bird populations. “Bird & Wild Coffee is on a mission to help protect migrating birds, support the RSPB, and give our customers a great-tasting Fairtrade Organic coffee, one cup at a time. To date, Bird & Wild has donated over £50,000 to the RSPB Charity, thereby helping protect both birds at home in the UK and birds in coffee-growing countries.”

An image of Bird & Wild's Instant Specialty coffee in a reusable glass jar with a customised die-cut label In an article on bird friendly instant coffee from Bird & Wild

Sustainability beyond coffee sourcing

Along with the conscientiousness that Bird & Wild demonstrates across its sourcing, the brand is also working towards more sustainable coffee packaging. Currently, Bird & Wild uses glass jars to package its instant coffee offerings. “The reason for this choice is to ensure that the coffee is packaged in a completely airtight container,” the team says. “If the instant coffee is subjected to air, it becomes exposed to moisture, which causes it to go dark and lumpy.” 

While the use of glass jars already presents a readily recyclable packaging option for consumers, the Bird & Wild team has never been the type to settle. “In the past, we’ve tried and tested alternatives that were more environmentally friendly, without much success. We’ve always run into issues with keeping the coffee fresh. That said, we are currently researching single-serve recyclable sachets to see if this is a viable option for us.”

In these ways, and across all elements of its operations, Bird & Wild is continuing to demonstrate an industry-leading approach to sustainability. Beyond simply adopting the successful initiatives that others have already developed, the brand is a prime example of a specialty coffee provider that is consistently striving for that next step further. 

At MTPak Coffee, we are dedicated to helping your business make the right packaging choices for your product and the planet. Our range of sustainable coffee bags includes recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable options made from renewable, environmentally-friendly materials.

Our packaging options include drip coffee bags and boxes, as well as RTD pouches made from recyclable and biodegradable materials, with several customisation options and accessories, including degassing valves, spouts, and ziplock seals. Our sustainable coffee bags are made using kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining, while our coffee boxes are made using recycled cardboard.

Our range of coffee packaging options is fully customisable to help maximise the coffee-drinking experience. Our eco-friendly customisation techniques include spot UV with a glossy, satin, or matte finish, embossing and debossing, as well as hot foil stamping in a variety of colours. More so, we can print fully customisable stickers that can be used on canned coffee offerings or glass jars. Our custom, die-cut stickers can also be used across other packaging options, such as coffee bags, coffee boxes, and bottles.

For more information on packaging instant coffee, contact our team

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