Certified Sustainable Coffee Grows Rapidly as More Companies Commit to Sourcing

April 11, 2013

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee reaches 4.5 percent of global market, transforming coffee farming practices worldwide

Leading companies including McDonald’s® USA and McDonald’s Canada, Caribou Coffee, Second Cup, Green Mountain Coffee and Nespresso have made significant strides this past year by incorporating into their supplies significant quantities of sustainably produced coffee beans grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. This rapid growth in sustainable sourcing is contributing to major environmental, social and economic improvements for coffee growing communities around the world. During 2012, 375,000 metric tons of coffee, representing 4.5 percent of global production, was grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, a 45 percent increase over 2011.

Coffee getting sampled, or cupped, so that cuppers can assess quality.

Growth in sourcing certified sustainable coffee not only reflects the demand for sustainability at the corporate level but it is having a significant positive impact on the environment and lives of farm families. All Rainforest Alliance Certified farms meet the rigorous social, environmental and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). “By choosing to source coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, companies are having demonstrable impacts on the ground, conserving natural resources and improving the lives and livelihoods of farm communities,” said Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “More and more companies are realizing that sustainable certification also makes good business sense, ensuring long-term viability of supply-chains.”

McDonald’s USA recently began sourcing 100% of its espresso from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. This builds on McDonald’s existing commitment to certification; sourcing 100 percent of the coffee it serves in its restaurants in Australia, New Zealand, and over half of the markets in Europe from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. In addition, 100% of the espresso served by McDonald’s Canada is from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.

Other major coffee companies committed to sustainable certification in North America include Caribou Coffee, Second Cup, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Nespresso. In January 2012, Caribou Coffee became the first major US coffeehouse to source 100 percent of its coffee and espresso beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Second Cup now purchases over 90 percent of its coffees from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, and all of its tea and tisanes carry the green frog seal. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Timothy's World Coffee brand achieved its 2012 goal of 50 percent of its sold coffee coming from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and aims to reach 70 percent by 2013. As part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable™ Quality Program, which incorporates Sustainable Agriculture Network standards, the Rainforest Alliance has been working with Nespresso for ten years to promote environmental and social responsibility on supplier farms and support producers who wish to seek Rainforest Alliance certification.

The growth in sourcing commitments is transforming the way coffee is grown across the globe. Over 118,000 coffee farms covering almost 800,000 acres (323,500 hectares) are now Rainforest Alliance Certified and meet rigorous standards for best practices and environmental and social sustainability.

For example, to attain Rainforest Alliance certification, ADESC -- a group of 68 smallholders in Guatemala who have been taking part in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable™ Quality Program since 2005 -- worked to curb deforestation, protect wildlife, manage waste and reduce use of agrochemicals on the path to certification. In recognition of ADESC’s achievement, the Rainforest Alliance will present them with an award on Friday April 12th at the Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual tradeshow in Boston, MA.

“Before, we did many things without knowing they were wrong or could be done better,” said Servando Valle, president of ADESC. “This award is a motivation to work even harder, to keep complying with the certification standards and to improve our daily practices.”

The Rainforest Alliance commends the companies we work with for their commitment to sustainability, but does not endorse specific products or services. For a full list of products that feature the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, please visit the Shop the Frog page.