Certified Coffee Terms

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There are many certifications and labels currently assigned to coffee grown in different parts of the world. To better understand what you’re buying, the following terms and definitions are critical.


Foods with the USDA rating of organic were grown without pesticides. It’s important to note that coffee beans are not grown in the United States, so the assignment of this label on coffee may be hard to confirm.

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Fair Trade Certification

This label demonstrates that the product you’re purchasing has been reviewed by the World Fair Trade Organization. Folgers is not certified by this organization; instead, they work to create direct trade, dealing directly with coffee bean farmers.

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This relationship, while personal, is market-driven and offers no guarantee of income fairness for the coffee bean farmer.

Shade Grown

The label of shade grown was created to confirm that coffee plantations were not involved in rain forest destruction. The label is hard to certify and thus not very meaningful. Consider instead purchasing coffee certified by the Rainforest Alliance.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.