Coffee certifications are popular around the world.

Nowadays, coffee certification is everywhere—in specialty coffee shops, restaurants, supermarket shelves, etc.! That’s because consumers want to know where their coffee comes from. This is especially true in the food supply chain, and coffee is no different. So, should you care about whether your coffee is certified or not? And what does it mean?

You can find additional posts on standards, marketing, and issues surrounding eco-certification in the following categories:

Organic coffee is part of the organic agriculture system.

  • Fair Trade/Fairtrade Certification: Fair Trade
  • CoffeeRainforest Alliance/UTZ certification
  • The 4C coffee program produces coffee in accordance with the common code for the coffee community called 4C coffee (the Common Code for the Coffee Community).
  • Direct trade: this is not really a certification but a trade movement, so I will not analyze it in the article.

Up to now, in the coffee community, there have been more than 20 programs mainly certifying coffee, but the number of large programs with high coverage is really not much.

In addition, depending on the region (such as Latin America), a number of other certificates will be applied to the coffee-producing community in that area, such as Shade Grown Coffee or Bird Friendly Coffee. The above programs are, however, The content and approach are different but have the same goal of developing sustainable coffee. Below, we will learn more about common certifications for coffee trees.

Organic coffee: certified organic coffeeRegarding the definition of organic coffee, it can be understood as coffee grown with an agricultural production management system, covering the soil with organic materials, regulating shade trees, and preventing diseases in a biological way. learn.

That system of agricultural production management is based on the principle that an equivalent value of the harvested product must be returned to the land. The use of agricultural chemicals is also excluded. Meanwhile, Dr. R. Naidu (India) has a more specific definition, which is: organic coffee is coffee produced and processed through the use of natural products. Of course, do not use fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or growth regulators, which are synthetic chemicals. According to B. Van Elzakker, there is a simple definition of “organic,” which is that no agricultural chemicals + no chemical fertilizers = preferential prices.

Organic coffee: organic coffeeThe US and European Union markets now regulate them through legislation such as the US Organic Produce Act of 1990 and the EU’s 1991 Organic Agriculture Regulations. Importing countries strictly regulate producing countries to strictly comply with the above laws before those products are recognized as organic products.

According to the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Teaching in Costa Rica (CATIE), 75% of the world’s organic coffee comes from Latin America. Additionally, several Asian and African countries produce organic coffee, including Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Because of the higher costs associated with certification and lower yields due to “poorer” growing conditions (because no chemicals are added), organic coffee often costs more than non-organic coffee. Although many consumers appreciate the benefits not only for their own health but also for the health of farmers and the environment, there are still many downsides to organic coffee in addition to the benefits it brings. again.

Fair Trade Certification: Equal Trade CoffeeFair Trade certification is used in at least 50 countries on thousands of products, and many countries grow coffee. The purpose of certification is to improve living standards through fair trade. The Fair Trade program encourages coffee-importing countries to pay more than the standard market price for coffee, with the goal of bringing higher profits to growers to raise living standards and improve working conditions. (e.g., occupational health and safety, etc.) Encourage sustainable coffee farming practices.

In some instances of the coffee industry, the term is also known as Trade Fair Coffee, Fair Coffee Trade, and Fair Trade Certified.Fair Trade Coffee: Fair TradeThe main purpose of fair trade is to give farmers a fair opportunity to improve their market position. In 1988, a Dutch NGO called Solidaridad launched the Max Havelaar certification system for Fair Trade coffee (and later for other products) with the goal of bringing this coffee into the mainstream through traditional supermarket channels. Then, in 1997, the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO) was established to unite fair trade labeling initiatives in consuming countries.

There are currently 20 Fair Trade labeling initiatives operating in 21 countries, creating a large market for Fair Trade products. There are over 240 cooperatives in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that produce Fair Trade-certified coffee.

Rainforest Alliance/UTZThe Rainforest Alliance appeared in the early 1990s as a certification organization for environmentally friendly coffee called Eco-OK, now called “Rainforest Alliance Certified.” The mission of the Rainforest Alliance is to integrate productive agricultural production, biodiversity conservation, and human development. The first certified coffee farm was in 1996. To date, the number of countries producing Rain Forest Alliance-certified coffee is up to 18, including Vietnam.

Rainforest Alliance/UTZ certification: Rainforest AllianceIn 2018, RFA merged with another certification program called UTZ, or Utz Kapeh, which means “good coffee” in Mayan Quiché. UTZ certification was established in 2002 and is centered around a farm code of conduct that sets standards for livestock and crop practices as well as environmental, human rights, and overall management standards. , similar to RFA. With a new set of combined standards released in 2020, RFA and UTZ have fully aligned their mission and vision, and today we call it the Rainforest Alliance (or Rainforest Alliance/UTZ). main receiver.

UTZ certification was established in 1997 by a Dutch retail company called Ahold in cooperation with Guatemalan coffee producers called UTZ Kapek. By 2000, UTZ had become an independent organization before changing its name. became “UTZ Certified Good Inside” in 2008.

4C Coffee Certification – Common Code for Coffee CommunityThe Common Code for Coffee Community – 4C (Common Code for Coffee Community) was formed by the German Coffee Association and the German government’s Agency for International Development (GTZ) to enhance sustainability in the chain. “Conventional” green coffee and increased amounts of coffee meet basic standards of sustainability.

Participating in the 4C initiative are manufacturers represented by associations, representatives of Trade Unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), large corporations in the industry such as Nestlé, Sara Lee/Douwe Egberts, Tchibo and Kraft…

4C works towards sustainable coffee supply chains and improving farmers’ livelihoods.4C builds on fundamental good agricultural and management practices. The Code of Conduct aims to eliminate unacceptable practices and encourage continuous improvement. Unlike the above certification systems, 4C only checks conformity and does not certify conformity, so it does not issue certificates. More specifically, the 4C audit is to consider compliance with the basic 4C standards, which include 28 indicators for a complex of environmental, social, and economic concerns.

In the first operational year of 2007/2008, in 21 countries, 4.5 million bags (60kg) of green coffee passed inspection for compliance with 4C standards.

Be aware that 4C does not allow the use of 4C labels or logos but does allow the use of the 4C membership statement on packaging. The membership statement has nothing to do with the quantity or quality of the coffee contained within but is a means for 4C Industry members to emphasize their support for the 4C Sustainable Approach. The 4C Association logo can be widely used on publications, websites, and brochures but cannot be used on packaging.

Shade-Grown Coffee: Coffee grown in the shadeShade-grown coffee is grown under the canopy of trees. Shade trees (forest trees) help naturally protect coffee from the sun, maintain a more stable temperature range, and slow down the overall growth of the coffee tree and fruit. This helps create coffee cherries with more nutrients, denser beans, and more flavor.

Shade-Grown Coffee: Certified shade-grown coffeeShade-grown coffee also requires organic care for the coffee plants, so chemical fertilizers and pesticides are eliminated. This brings results such as ensuring biodiversity, safety for the health of coffee farmers, protecting water sources, and reducing the possibility of soil erosion, especially in high hills and rugged mountainous areas. Additionally, coffee plants with a slower growth process will ripen more slowly and produce a higher-quality coffee bean.

In 2014, the WWF found that 52% of the world’s biodiversity had disappeared. Fortunately, many coffee-growing regions have great biodiversity, and shade-grown coffee has the power to reverse, or at least slow, that trend.

Bird Friendly Coffee: Bird FriendlyBird Friendly is a certification created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC). SMBC offers this certification to farmers to promote organic, shade-grown coffee, which plays an important role in preserving habitat for Central and South American migratory bird populations. Bird Friendly was one of the first environmentally-oriented certification programs for coffee and helped establish the environmental standards now used by other certifications.

Bird-Friendly Coffee: Certified Bird-Friendly CoffeeThe criteria for shade in this certification program are more detailed than those in the Rainforest Alliance program. Bird-friendly certification requires at least 11 canopy tree species per hectare, and the main canopy must be at least 40 feet tall. Additionally, the production area must have at least 40 percent foliage, forming three layers of forest, and the coffee must be certified organic.

Ultimately, the certifications above provide a variety of third-party assurances to consumers. They can endorse environmentally friendly farming methods and move toward organic certification. They can ensure that no child labor is involved in coffee production. Some programs focus more on the prices paid to farmers. Certification programs often have different focuses, and we should educate ourselves on their differences to make personal choices based on the quality of the product and the focus of the program.

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