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Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee

How much does coffee cost?

When it comes to your bottom line and satisfying your daily coffee habit, there are a few other things we all need to consider besides the cost of coffee.

Specifically, the impact your beans have on the environment, the conditions for the workers, how the coffee gets from field to cup, and so on.

Our point: whether you’re making it at home or paying a barista to do it, you should be looking for Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee!


Sustainability is a huge part of who we are.
At SpecialCoffee we’re committed to making sure we always will.

But why should you be bothered about buying Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee?
And exactly what difference does it make to the coffee you drink?

In honor of Environment Day, we decided to take a deeper look at Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee.

The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization (NGO) with over 30 years’ experience that works in more than 80 countries around the globe to help protect the environment, conserve biodiversity and promote the rights and well-being of workers, their families and communities.
The Rainforest Alliance helps create a world in which people and nature thrive together in harmony.

So, what are the benefits of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee?

Coffee is the second most popular beverage after water and the second top selling product after oil. So, if everyone did decide to shop Certified, we would do a whole lot of good for the planet.

Keep reading to better understand why your coffee choice is so important.


Shoppers want more sustainability and transparency surrounding the things they are buying. They want to know where their products are coming from, what the working conditions are like, how manufacturing processes are impacting the environment and more.

What does that mean in terms of coffee?

When a coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified, it means that the coffee was produced against rigorous standards that protect the environment, empower producers and support local communities.

Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee benefits everyone in the supply chain: farmers and workers gain access to sustainable livelihoods, brands can offer quality products, retailers can manage risk and become leaders in the industry, and consumers can shop their values and trust in the brands they purchase.


In order to really understand the environmental impacts, we should talk about what happens when you buy coffee that’s NOT Rainforest Alliance.

When you buy conventional coffee, it comes with a risk that the workers and the environment could have been exploited.
Issues common to non-Rainforest Alliance farms include water pollution, deforestation, use of GMOs and harmful pesticides, as well as forced/child labor.
Workers have minimal rights on non-Rainforest Alliance farms, lack facilities and basic resources, and are often exposed to harmful chemicals.

On a Rainforest Alliance farm, however, certain standards must be met.

When you buy Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, you get coffee grown with biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability in mind.

Rainforest Alliance enforces standards that ensure water is used efficiently, farmers enhance on-farm biodiversity, but most of all there is no deforestation.


One of the agricultural sectors impacting forests is coffee.

Coffee production has increased over the past decade, potentially also expanding into forest areas. Additionally, forecasts indicate that if nothing is done, coffee production is expected to become a bigger driver of deforestation over the coming decades due to increasing demand and climate change impacts that will likely shift suitable regions to higher altitudes that are now comprised of valuable forests.

The work of the Rainforest Alliance is focused on tackling these issues, including coffee that carries the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ or UTZ Certified seal, demonstrating that the coffee was sourced from farms required to meet environmental, social and economic standards.

Most certified coffees come from Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam and Honduras, while analysis show the highest deforestation risks due to coffee production are in Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru and Indonesia.

Farmers certified under the Rainforest Alliance certification programs (including UTZ certification) are trained to implement good agricultural practices that help prevent deforestation, such as increasing the productivity of existing farm and forest lands, restoring degraded lands, banning production in protected areas, planting shade trees and more. Certification also requires the GPS monitoring of production areas to ensure land is being protected and used properly, as well as to evaluate the producers’ impact.

However in the coffee sector currently there is no big debate. Instead it’s needed moving forward with a sector-wide commitment, engaging all stakeholders.

Rainforest Alliance keeps looking for answers to the question “how can coffee can be profitable for all while making responsible business the new normal?”

Rainforest Alliance partner companies like SpecialCoffee, are already part of the solution by sourcing Rainforest Alliance certified products which contribute to deforestation-free supply chains.


Unlike producers of commodities like oil and natural gas, coffee farmers only receive a small fraction of the retail price of their crop.

Coffee prices are volatile and traditional trade threatens the livelihoods of farmers and workers who are unable to cover their production costs.

When global coffee prices down to their lowest, many farmers feel the pinch.

At a global level the future of coffee generally is quite desperate: the price established by futures does not even cover transport costs, and small growers, who don’t have an accounts system, are not even aware of this. They are just small-scale concerns with insufficient liquidity. In Central America there are so many young people emigrating to the USA or to Spain, the sector is becoming impoverished, and soon companies will disappear or switch to more profitable crops. The business will become concentrated into large industrial plantations, which will limit diversity and there will be a greater focus (in fact there already is) on Robusta, which is more profitable and has fewer problems.

But the Rainforest Alliance farmers have protection: there’s a minimum price guaranteed to Rainforest Alliance farmers, even when commodity prices fluctuate.

This minimum price allows farmers to invest in training and resources to further care for the land and the environment.

The systems created through Rainforest Alliance allow producers to continue to offer high quality coffee while also supporting their families and communities.

Plus, for every pound of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee sold, producers get few cents back, which they can then invest in community development initiatives. And members vote to decide how to put that money to use, which means everyone has a voice.


Some coffee connoisseurs swear that Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee taste better than regular coffee.

When you purchase Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, you can trust that your coffee is making a positive impact on both the environment and the communities from which it came.

So, take the pledge to follow the Frog.
Choose Rainforest Alliance Certified products with the Green Frog seal #followthefrog
Look for the sustainable quality of SpecialCoffee’s blend, Verdadero.


Photo credit: thanks to Rainforest Alliance

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