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What Is 4C Common Code Coffee Certification?

The 4C Common Code’s mission is to achieve global leadership by emphasizing the economic, social and environmental factors in coffee growing. This emphasis leads to enhanced production, processing and trading conditions for coffee sector members.

4C Common Code was started in 2003. This certification has representation from countries such as Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Ce d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua, Papua, New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia.

Is 4C a label?


  • No. 4C is not a label. It is a certification.
  • Coffee and farms are certified. There are specific checks to verify that the coffee in the pack meets the criteria noted on the label.
  • The label on the packaged coffee indicates the correctness of a claim such as coffee produced using sustainable standards. The label may read “Organic Coffee,” for example, and additional wording may state that the coffee is 4C certified.

How is 4C different?


  • The certification acts as a baseline standard. The improvement process behind the name and all the work put in by the 4C Association is what creates a difference.
  • 4C members implement specific processes and measurable steps to meet specific baseline levels of sustainability.
  • Again, an important distinction: on coffee packs, consumers will not see a “label” or “endorsement.” Instead, they may simply read that the roaster supports the 4C Approach.

How do coffee farmers become eligible for 4C Common Code certification?


  • Coffee farmers comply with a code of conduct that is very specific regarding unacceptable and acceptable practices.
  • This code covers many social, environmental and economic principles for everyone in the coffee supply chain. For example, this includes farmers, plantations, producer organizations, estates, mill, exporters, traders, and more.
  • Following practices that emphasize the sustainability of production and post-harvest processing ensures consistency across 4C Common Code certified farms. It also helps promote and adopt the code among farmers.

What are the main objectives this certification seeks to achieve?

  • The main goals include: reduction of coffee cultivation costs, product quality improvement, and strengthening of organizational structures for coffee producers.
  • In other words, optimizing the general operational flow along the value chain, from the bean to the cup.
  • By realizing these goals, farmers increase their incomes and improve their life standards.

What makes 4C such a successful program?


  • One of the reasons that 4C Common Code has been growing so much is the word of mouth advertising among coffee farmers, workers and producers.
  • To date, more than 14,000 farmers produce coffee in line with 4C standards and account for about 4 per cent of global production.
  • What is very significant is that the standards have helped farmers increase their incomes by over 30%.
  • When coffee farmers hear directly from other farmers how successful they are with the farming practices recommended by this certification’s Code of Conduct, they are very likely to want to know more and to join the program.
  • Farmers encourage each other to plant other crops such as peanuts, corn, root crops, palm oil or other natural plants along with coffee.
  • Farmers have the confidence that they have a ready market for their products as long as they comply with the code because it differentiates them from any other farmers.

What about having a cup of Jamaican Genuine Blue Mountain “Certified”?
What Is 4C Common Code Coffee Certification?

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