Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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KODIAK: Alaska Geographic Rainforest Alliance Brew Up Sustainable Coffee
Alaska Region, August 31, 2009
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Rainforest Alliance certified 'Bruin Brew' hit the shelves of Alaska Geographic's Kodiak branch this summer.
Rainforest Alliance certified 'Bruin Brew' hit the shelves of Alaska Geographic's Kodiak branch this summer. - Photo Credit: n/a

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and Alaska Geographic work with Rainforest Alliance to increase public awareness and support of migratory bird habitat by selling shade-grown, organic coffee at the Kodiak branch of Alaska Geographic this past summer. As a part of Alaska Geographic’s on-going support of Kodiak Refuge’s education and outreach efforts, Alaska Geographic Branch Manager, Jone Suleski, was looking for a new commemorative product that could help visitors mark their Kodiak trip in an ecologically sound and fun way. Suleski explained, “By promoting our affiliation with the Rainforest Alliance, we can let our visitors to the Refuge know that we are part of the sustainable solution…with wildlife conservation and worker welfare…caring for the land, caring for the people.”


Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organization committed to environmental development, collaborates with farmers, environmental groups and academic institutions to increase sustainable farming practices in coffee producing nations throughout Central and South America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the importance of consumer awareness in habitat conservation by focusing the 2001 International Migratory Bird Day theme on “Coffee Connections” and featured sustainable coffee in refuges across the country. For Kodiak Refuge, coffee offered a talking point for conservation and local business.


Alaska Geographic’s target audience for this product included not only off-island visitors, but also Kodiak’s year-round residents. Even though Kodiak Refuge’s downtown visitor center welcomed more than 29,000 visitors during fiscal year 2009, many local residents have yet to venture inside the two-year old facility. Kodiak Refuge Visitor Center Manager, Tina Shaw, hopes that by welcoming locally crafted products like coffee, art and salmon, the Center will attract local Kodiakans and that Kodiak Refuge “…will be able to educate a wider audience about the National Wildlife Refuge System and how Kodiak fits in the big picture of conservation.”


Suleski enlisted local roaster, Kodiak Island Coffee Company, to buy sustainably certified coffee through the Rainforest Alliance cooperative and roast an exclusive variety on behalf of Kodiak Refuge. Since the whole bean and ground ‘Bruin Brew’ hit the shelves in July, sales have been brisk and many new faces have come to the Center to shop in the bookstore and take in the Center’s exhibits. Suleski sees a connection between locally produced products and the success of the bookstore, saying “People want to know where the products they buy come from and that it’s top quality. We are purchasing high quality 100% Arabica beans from our local coffee roaster, where it’s roasted fresh in small batches, so we are confident that we are selling the best of the best beans. It’s great tasting coffee with a mission! We’ve made the commitment to support sustainability. The next step is to build customer loyalty by demonstrating that we are innovative and forward thinking and a part of the solution.” Kodiak Refuge looks forward to collaborating with Alaska Geographic on future projects that support education and sustainability.

Contact Info: Tina Shaw, 612-713-5331, tina_shaw@fws.gov
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