Caribou Coffee Becomes First Major US Coffeehouse to Achieve 100% Milestone

January 3, 2012

The Rainforest Alliance is pleased to announce that Caribou Coffee, the country’s second largest coffeehouse, is the first major coffee company in the US to source 100 percent of its coffee and espresso beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.

“Caribou Coffee’s achievement sets a shining example, demonstrating that it is entirely possible for companies to meet their sustainability goals,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “We are thrilled that our long-standing relationship with Caribou Coffee has helped to improve the livelihoods of coffee-farming communities across the globe, while providing consumers with high quality, sustainable coffee.”

The Rainforest Alliance started working with Caribou Coffee in 2003. Last April, Caribou Coffee set an ambitious goal of sourcing 100 percent of the coffee and espresso used across all its products and platforms from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms by the end of 2011. To meet this objective, Caribou Coffee worked directly with coffee farmers in North and South America, Africa and South East Asia, helping them to understand the social, environmental and economic benefits that result from achieving certification.

Caribou Coffee Bag

“Reaching 100 percent certification is a significant accomplishment for Caribou Coffee,” said Chad Trewick, senior director of coffee and tea at Caribou Coffee. “I’ve seen how communities thrive from working with the Rainforest Alliance, and I’m proud to say that all of our beans come from sustainable, healthy sources.”

Caribou Coffee’s path to sustainability highlights the significant benefits large companies can bring to both farming communities and the environment, even before they reach 100 percent certified content. Companies are permitted to use the green frog seal on products that contain at least 30 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified content, but this fact must be clearly displayed on packaging. Because of the demanding certification standards, which were established by a coalition of grassroots conservation groups known as the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), it takes time for large companies to build and integrate supply into their products. Farmers also often need time to make any changes needed to meet the SAN’s social, economic and environmental standards.

“Allowing companies to use the seal before they have reached 100 percent certification, but have made a commitment to increase to 100 percent as soon as feasible, is a realistic approach that benefits workers, their families and wildlife,” explains Chris Wille, the Rainforest Alliance’s chief of agriculture.

Farms that achieve Rainforest Alliance certification have met the environmental, social and economic standards of the SAN, which cover ecosystem conservation, wildlife protection, water and soil conservation, agrochemical reduction, worker rights and safety, decent housing, legal wages and contracts for workers and access to healthcare and education.

Other major brands are also scaling up their commitments to source tea, coffee and cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Lipton®, for example, has made a commitment to source 100 percent of its tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms by 2015 and is well on its way to doing so.