Common Coffee Certifications

 

Organically Grown

Here  at Sandwich Coffee Roasters we always offer coffee that is organically  grown and people friendly. At times our supplier will purchase coffee  from individually-owned farms and estates that  meet or exceed Organic  and Fair Trade Standards but because they are privately owned, or can  not afford the cost of certification, are not eligible for USDA  certification.


Bird-Friendly
The  only true “shade-grown” certification, developed by ecologists at the  Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Criteria include a canopy at least 12  meters high, a minimum of 40%  shade cover, and 11 species of shade trees. Additionally, must also be  certified organic. Bird-Friendly certification has the most robust  shade/habitat standards of any coffee certification.


Rainforest Alliance
The  Rainforest Alliance is an NGO with programs in several areas that  promote standards for sustainability. Their sustainable agriculture  program certifies many crops, including coffee. Not exclusively an  environmental certification, it covers a number of ecological issues as  well as community relations and fair treatment of workers. Certification  is awarded based on a score for meeting a minimum number of an array of  criteria. There are no required criteria for shade management, but they  are included in optional criteria; these shade criteria are not as  strict as Bird-Friendly standards. Therefore it is important to note  that Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee may not be shade grown. There  is no organic requirement.


Organic
Coffee  sold as "Organic" in the U.S. must be produced under U.S. standards  established by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Verification is  carried out by accredited certifying agencies. Requirements for this  seal include no use of prohibited substances on the land for at least  three years.  This includes most synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and  fertilizers. Other certification requirements include a buffer between  the coffee and any other crop not grown organically, a plan that  demonstrates methods that prevent soil erosion, and other sustainable  agricultural criteria. Other Criteria for use of the Organic Certified  Label is documentation of USDA’s National Organic Program standards from  the farm, the export facility, the import facility, the US distributor,  and finally from the roasting and selling facility. All of the farms  and estates that grow our coffees and Sandwich coffee roasters meet or  exceed Organic USDA's requirements, but because they are privately  owned, or can not afford the cost, are not eligible for certification.  Consequently we do not use this label, but please know that we only  purchase organically grown coffee beans. 


Fair Trade
Fair  Trade is primarily concerned with alleviating poverty through greater  equity in international trade.  Fair Trade is governed in most of the  world by the Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International.  In the  U.S., it is governed by Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade certification is only  available to democratically-organized cooperatives of small producers,  not individually-owned farms, estates, or farms that use hired labor.  Although they are not eligible for certification, there are many  individually-owned farms, estates, and farms that use hired labor that  meet or exceed Fair Trade Standards..