Increased proportion of certified green coffee grades

In the medium term, we want to offer only coffees whose culti­vation meets economic, ecological and social require­ments. We took another step forward on this path in 2017, by increasing the proportion of green coffee grades which are certified by an inter­na­tional standards organ­i­sation by about 3.3 % to 19.2 %. Our certified coffees are sourced from coffee farms certified according to the require­ments of FairtradeRainforest Alliance und UTZ, or the organ­i­sa­tions behind the European organic seal. All our premium assort­ments, such as the Cafissimo capsule range, were converted to 100 % certified coffee grades back in 2012. Now we are gradually expanding the proportion in other segments as well. Since 2016 our For Black ‘n White filter coffee has carried the UTZ seal. The Blonde Roast coffee product, newly intro­duced in 2017, as well as our Gala Espresso and Caffe Crema, all carry the Rainforest Alliance seal. 

New paths in the mainstream segment

In 2016, we embarked on a new strategic path in our purchasing of green coffee grades validated according to the 4C base standard, because we believe that the basic require­ments of the validation system for the 4C standard alone are no longer suffi­cient to further develop the supply chain across the board.

That is why, since 2016, we have increas­ingly shifted our commitment and financial resources from the purchase of 4C-validated grades to our own quali­fi­cation programme Tchibo Joint Forces!® and the ‘Mainstreaming Sustainable Coffee Production’ dialogue process. In the course of this, in 2016 we reduced our purchase volume of 4C-validated green coffee grades compared to 2015, and used the freed-up funds for ‘Mainstreaming Sustainable Coffee Production’ and our supply-chain programmes. In the year ahead, we will maintain the proportion of 4C coffee grades at the previous year's level.

The total volume of green coffee included in Tchibo's sustain­ability concept (certified and validated as sustainable) totalled 26.4 % in 2017, down on the previous year.  The reason for this was the delivery delay at the turn of the year 2017/18:  Part of the 4C coffee scheduled for 2017 was not delivered until early 2018

Inter­na­tionally recog­nised standards for sustainable coffee farming

Inter­na­tionally accredited standards organ­i­sa­tionswork to help coffee farmers increase their income, improve their living and working condi­tions, and increase environ­mental protection. Each organ­i­sation sets its own prior­ities in terms of individual objec­tives.  

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is an inter­na­tionally recog­nised, independent environ­mental organ­i­sation that campaigns for the protection of sensitive ecosystems and promotes the sustainable management of land. The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal stands for ecolog­i­cally sound agriculture and socially respon­sible corporate behaviour. This includes, for example, the conser­vation of natural resources and the creation of educa­tional oppor­tu­nities for coffee farmers. In January 2018, the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ merged to form a joint organ­i­sation under the name Rainforest Alliance. Using their combined strengths, the organ­i­sation will develop a common standard to address climate change, defor­estation, poverty and social inequality. 


Fairtrade stands for better working and living condi­tions for small­holders and workers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 1.6 million small­holders and workers already benefit from fixed minimum prices as well as the Fairtrade premium for community projects. Such projects can include, for example, the construction of schools and medical care centres, or invest­ments in local infras­tructure. Fairtrade prohibits forced labour and illegal child labour. The organ­i­sation provides support, training and advice for producers in the growing regions. Environ­men­tally friendly culti­vation is promoted. The independent certi­fi­cation company FLOCERT carries out on-site verifi­cation of whether producers and traders comply with Fairtrade standards. 


UTZ is not an acronym, but comes from the Mayan language, an indigenous people from South America, and means ‘good’. And it is used here with good reason: UTZ trains coffee farmers in the fields of business, social working condi­tions and environ­mental management, helping them, e.g. by learning better farming methods, to operate more success­fully while also protecting the environment. By purchasing UTZ certified products, Tchibo customers can actively promote better future prospects for farmers. 

In January 2018, the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ joined forces to combine their expertise in sustainable land use and respon­sible business practices under a shared umbrella. Their new, jointly developed certi­fi­cation programme is due to enter into force in 2019 and will include a new standard for producers and a new system for monitoring the chain of custody.

Bio ‘organic’ label

Organic coffee is produced from sustainable agriculture in harmony with nature. Organic farming is charac­terised such things as the use of natural fertilisers and beneficial insects that keep the soil fertile in the long term. This method of farming also helps to conserve biodi­versity and protect raw material reserves. The Bio label ensures the controlled production of organic products. The provi­sions of EU legis­lation on organic farming determine the standard. Only products that are produced and controlled according to this EU legis­lation may carry the Bio label. For more infor­mation, please visit:

4C Associ­ation – Coffee Assurance Services (CAS)

In March 2016, the Sustainable Coffee Program (SCP) – a cooper­ation between inter­na­tional coffee roasters and the Netherland’s Initiative for Sustainable Trade (IDH) as the public partner – joined forces with the 4C Associ­ation to form the Global Coffee Platform (GCP). This combines the strengths of the two organ­i­sa­tions to jointly achieve a greater impact in devel­oping a sustainable coffee sector. 

The Baseline Common Code 4C is still the basic standard of the coffee sector, and has been admin­is­tered by Coffee Assurance Services (CAS) since 2012. It operates as a standalone company, independent of GCP. CAS's shares have been owned by MEO Carbon Solutions GmbH since January 2018.