Today, coffee certification is everywhere, in grocery stores, restaurants, and even in offices. Marc Schonland, our vice president of coffee strategy says: “Today the consumer wants to know where their purchases are coming from. This is especially true in the food supply chain, and coffee is no different."
So should you care if your coffee is certified? Schonland says: "Certifications offer various third-party assurances to the consumer. They can attest to environmentally friendly farming practices and can go all the way up to organic certification. They can provide assurances that no child labor was involved in the production of the coffee. Some programs focus more heavily on the prices paid to the producers. Certification programs typically have different focuses and consumers should educate themselves on how they differ and make a personal selection based on the quality of the product and program’s focus."
Schonland points out that while there are many options for the “certified-minded consumer”, it is also important to recognize the many additional sources and supply of coffee that is not certified but is still produced in environmentally friendly ways, with excellent work and safe practices.
Types of Coffee Certifications
Bird Friendly, this certification comes from what I think is a pretty surprising source, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington D.C. This type of certification is very strict compared to the others because before obtaining this certification, you must first obtain organic certification. This certification almost always comes from family farms and basically says that this coffee was grown in a more natural environment, and the growth and harvesting of coffee are incorporated into the natural environment.
In a normal scenario, when a farm is ready to grow coffee, the land is cleared and trees are planted. However, with a bird-friendly certification, the farms provide a good, forest-like habitat for the birds, where the coffee is planted under a canopy of trees instead of being grown on farms that have been cleared of vegetation. As with others, bid-friendly certification does not go into anything else, such as labor remuneration or working conditions.
This is probably the strictest certification of all and, depending on the level of concern for this type of issue, is the one you should ask at the local monastery or cafe.
Fair Trade, Fairtrade International was established in Germany in 1997 and brings together various global initiatives under a single umbrella organization that sets a set of international standards for fair trade. Its purpose is to ensure that coffee is grown according to a set of strict standards that encourage environmental sustainability, as well as to ensure that the people involved in production have been treated and compensated correctly.
In Short, the fair trade certification model pays manufacturers a “fair trade” price over the market, provided they meet specific labor, environmental, and production standards. It should be noted here that the certification of fair trade has changed recently, because initially there was a division between 2 groups, Fair Trade USA and Fair Trade International, due to which only small or both large and small farms should obtain certification. To make matters even more confusing, Fair Trade USA has split up again and so is there now a third organization called Fair Trade America, which is independent of the two but more closely aligned with Fair Trade International?
Rainforest Alliance, Sometimes people assume that Rainforest Alliance and fair trade are one and the same and/or have the same goals. Even though both assist coffee growers, there are some distinct differences. The supervisor and the organization that controls this non-profit certification is based in New York and whose mission is not only to protect the environment, i.e. the rainforest and deforestation, but also the rights of coffee growers with this certification. Due to its concentration on the farm and the lack of trade standards, it is more naturally suitable for larger farms than for small producers who are at the center of the fair trade movement. It also does not prohibit the use of pesticides and is therefore distinct and separate from organic certification.
When you ask about Rainforest Alliance certified coffee, you need to ask yourself if it is 100% certified, because according to current guidelines, coffee that is grown must be only 30% grown according to Rainforest Alliance criteria to get this certification, and the other 70 % may be grown under any other method that farmers consider appropriate.
Carbon Neutral is a coffee business that, through all its activities, does not add to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, verifying this is easier said and done and, unfortunately, there is no internationally recognized methodology or standards or standards for determining whether or not a company is carbon neutral.
However, the theory behind the carbonless coffee certification, a company must present coffee for a detailed life cycle analysis, a third-party process that formally examines the carbon emissions associated with each step in production. The resulting analysis accounts for all carbon dioxide emissions starting with a coffee plant and ending with an empty coffee bag.
This type of certification is similar to some of the others in that it does not take into account the working conditions of farmers or workers, however, those who make the effort to obtain this type of certification are also very attentive to workers.
Organic certification, in the case of green coffee entering the United States, at least 95% of what comes cannot be treated with pesticides or synthetic substances to obtain organic coffee certification. In other words, it must comply with the way coffee was grown and harvested long before the emergence of these new cultivation methods.
An important point to remember when it comes to organic coffee and this certification and that it does not consider practically anything other than this criterion, so it does not mean that farmers will be paid more or that working conditions will be higher there. good then if it would produce non-organic coffee.
We must also keep in mind that, although coffee is not certified as organic, it does not necessarily make it inorganic, as many small farms owned by a family can neither afford to pay for this certification nor have the means to do so. paying for pesticides and materials can protect their crops. The reverse is also true if certified organic coffee may not necessarily be so, as inspections are usually done once a year and are therefore difficult to control, despite the voluntary assistance of non-profit organizations and companies. with profit having services to assist in the verification process.
Direct Trade, here a coffee roaster will deal directly with farmers. In other words, an intermediary and any plate that makes coffee certifications like the ones listed above will pass. This, at first, may seem like a great situation and for a larger toaster it is, but for the small toaster, it is difficult to feel economical because the toaster takes a lot of risks. Once the roasting contract with the farm will have to take the coffee to the roasting unit.
In other words that the coffee from the farm will have to bring to the port of the country from which it buys. It will then have to go from that port to a port, in this example to the United States, and finally from there to its frying plant. If at some point along the way, there is a problem, the buyer will solve the problem. Therefore, in my experience, if you are not a big toaster, direct trade is difficult to justify financially.
Final Thoughts on Coffee Certifications
This is by no means all types of certifications, as they appear from time to time, however, these are the most important ones I have been asked about and I hope you better understand the different types of major coffee certifications that exist as well differences of all.