As a designer I jumped at the chance to create wall art for Bun & Bean when Jamie first opened the café in January this year. Having worked with food brands, I have seen how the growth in compassionate consumerism has lead to more supply chain transparency and food origin story sharing. Artwave has created an opportunity to share this project with art enthusiasts on the Lewes art trail, as well as coffee lovers visiting the cafe.
With coffee provenance in mind, I began by researching the Honduran organic coffee Jamie uses from Extract coffee roasters. I spoke with Extract at London Coffee Festival, looked for articles on wildlife conservation sites, read bird watcher’s blog posts and read through research findings about bird friendly coffee growing.
I learned about shade-tolerant coffee production using the natural principles of ecology whereby a shade canopy is created with native trees. Bird diversity is supported, pest insects are reduced and leaf litter puts nutrients back into the soil increasing coffee yields and quality. Great news for the coffee connoisseur and chirpy creatures like the Yellow Bellied Warbler, Keel Billed Toucan and the Garter Tailed Trogon to name a few.
Sadly, I also found reports on the devastating effects on biodiversity through sun grown coffee methods, where forests are cleared for coffee farms causing decline in numbers of neotropical and migratory birds as their natural habitats are lost. Not good news for our feathered friends.
Although I have read articles and discussed the subject a lot, the picture is still coming together for me. Coffee growing, conservation and fair trade are complex subjects tied up with poverty, intensive labour, exploitation and greenwashing. It's not always clear if coffee has come from shade grown farms and finding out about coffee origins can be challenging as brands hold onto their coffee stories as a commodity.
From what I understand so far, the growth in the specialty coffee industry seems to have helped increase supply chain transparency and farmers have been increasingly encouraged to shape their businesses according to demand. Learning that growers using permaculture principles to farm can actually support wildlife and create thriving habitats has been encouraging.
Through talking about the work during Artwave I have already learned more about coffee growing regions and peoples experiences with some of the illustrated birds. I hope the work can start more conversations about specialty coffee, our consumer choices and the effects they have on our fragile environment.
The prints work as individual pieces or together composed as a scene.
Giclée prints of the work are available to buy from Bun + Bean.
Material: Archival inks on 100% cotton, high quality fine art paper.
Framed: Wood frame finished in soft, matt white.
Size: 50 x 40cm / 40 x 50cm
Garter Tailed Trogon
Yellow Bellied Warbler
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