Business World

Singing for Sustainable Coffee

Sometimes people are skeptical when celebrities back or sponsor an altruistic cause. This jaded editor felt that way until I met Danny O’Keefe, a singer and songwriter who has made it his mission to help save the songbirds that inhabit the coffee fields. He is the director of The Songbird Foundation, a non-profit organization that educates and motivates people to make sustainable choices in the coffee they purchase to preserve migratory songbirds, the habitats they depend on, and the coffee farmers who grow the beans. “The idea that we should lose beautiful species of birds because of non-sustainable coffee agriculture practices seemed deeply and terribly wrong to me,” says O’ Keefe. “In the process of discovery I realized that the best hope we have of saving habitat are to support the people who live in those habitats as they are the natural stewards of the environments we hoping to protect and preserve.”

This past April, singers Danny O’ Keefe, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer and Marta Gomez held a special Benefit Concert for The Songbird Foundation during the duration of the recent SCAA Conference & Tradeshow in Boston.

The concert supported Songbird’s efforts to raise public awareness of the benefits of sustainable coffees - those that are shade-grown, organic and fair-traded. In their efforts, the organization is working closely with Oxfam America and United Students for Fair Trade, as well as concerned coffee companies in the Greater Boston area. Concertgoers received large samples of Starbucks’ Fairtrade coffees.

After the concert, O’ Keefe met with me to discuss his mission. He greeted me, complimenting the magazine on the excellent articles we ran in our April issue. I was stunned that this man had even read our magazine and could quote Don Schoenholt’s article. O ’Keefe has attended and spoke at previous SCAA Conferences.

The U.S. consumes more than 1,500 million pounds of coffee a year. America’s coffee habit is severely threatening the world’s songbirds, their environments and the livelihood of farmers all over the globe, states the Songbird Foundation.

I applaud Danny O’Keefe for his efforts. He founded the Foundation in 1997 and it has certainly come a long way, growing to attract many sponsors and developing new programs. I know many other coffee and tea companies fund educational and agricultural programs, and the press needs to hear more about them.

For more information on The Songbird Foundation, visit them on the web at www.songbird.org or contact them at: info@songbird.org or (1)(206) 374-3674.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - July/August, 2003

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