At this level of Specialty Coffee, while the certifications are useful to know for sure, certifications are not as simple as they may seem on the surface. We ask you to keep an open mind, when it comes to coffee certifications.
Of course farmers need to do the work of being organic, Fair, etc. But did you know that farms and coops also need to pay for certification labeling? Yeah, it isn't free to have an organization come certify you. Did you know that only democratic cooperatives can be certified Fair Trade? ...A family owned farm as big as a town, with schools and doctors, and hundreds of staff could never be Fair Trade certified. Does it mean they are unfair or don't pay their people? It does not.
So, a lack of certification does not mean the opposite of having one. It may mean something completely different than you may expect.
Here's another example. Shade grown: Did you know that nearly all Specialty Coffee is shade grown? Even the ones that are not certified as such? Not having that label does not mean someone cut down a rainforest, certainly not the rainforests in Yemen for instance. What we're saying is just think about the certifications you're seeking. Having a certification may mean something completely different that you'd expect. Shade grown for instance doesn't mean natural forest. It may be, but it also may mean the original vegetation was replaced with something else. Sure, it could be mighty trees, but it could be bananas.
...So if you're shopping by certification to save the world, it's really just worth taking a moment to question what all those helpful labels really mean- Why one farm may have certifications and another may not. It is a LOT more complex than black hats and white hats.
...Does a certified coffee taste better than a non certified coffee? Nope. Will it make you healthier? Nope. If a coffee is not certified does it mean the farmer threw DDT into the river? cut down the forest? treats her crew badly? Nope, nope, nope. It ONLY means they are not certified.
If you want to save the world, have cleaner rivers, better air, more stable social structures the number ONE thing you can do is get your friends off canned coffee, dehydrated coffee, bricks of coffee. You'll achieve everything you want and more, faster too, by taking that tack. Specialty Coffee is a wholly different world than the corporate farms that produce cans of coffee and instant coffee. Support Specialty coffee, all of it, and you will achieve everything you want from the certifications.
OK. Sometimes you need to know for sure, and below is the list, but do consider what you believe and why you choose what you choose.
There are no certification about quality. Yet, it is quality and caring that achieves it all. Certifications have their place, just don't fall asleep in the lullaby of marketing or read between the lines what you wish were true. When you're choosing coffee; choose the coffee and the rest will follow. If you have a different opinion, we'd love to hear from you.