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Cafe Fair Coffee - Sustainable Practices and Social Responsibility

Organizations and Coffee Certifications

Cafe Fair was developed In the 1990s to help support our growers, and their workers and communities. In addition, Cafe Fair coffees are eco-friendly and always organic.

We have collaborated with reputable organizations such as Fairtrade International and the Rainforest AllianceTM to help us  accomplish our mission, and to provide assurance that we are meeting our commitment as the Socially Responsible coffee that you want in your cup. Only by providing decent wages, conscientious agricultural practices, and with your commitment, will truly sustainable agriculture flourish.
Below are the various organizations - or agencies that accredit them - that certify Cafe Fair Coffees, along with a brief explanation of each, links to their sites, and  links to some informational materials you can download in PDF format. 
To see the specific certifications for each of our Cafe Fair Coffees, click here: Cafe Fair Coffee Certifications

Rainforest Alliance Logo

Rainforest Alliance Certified

The Rainforest AllianceTM is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and promote the rights and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Farms that meet comprehensive standards for sustainability earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal. These standards conserve biodiversity, ensure that soils, waterways and wildlife habitat is protected and that farm workers enjoy decent housing, access to medical care and schools for their children. Farms must commit to a process of continuous improvement and are audited each year in order to maintain their certification. By shopping for products bearing the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, consumers can support a healthy environment and help to improve the quality of life for farm families. To learn more about the Rainforest Alliance and its programs, visit www.rainforest-alliance.org, or choose the following publications to download:

Fairtrade International Logo

Fairtrade Certified

Fairtrade International is a non-profit organization with partners and supporters all over the globe. They develop Fairtrade Standards, support and educate producers, and co-ordinate the International Fairtrade system. And they own the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark, a registered trademark that appears on more than 27,000 products in 120 countries. Over 1.2 million small farmers and workers in 66 countries benefit from Fairtrade through stable prices, training, and financial premiums for education, healthcare and farm improvements.

Fairtrade International relies on an independent certifying organization - FLO-CERT - to inspect and certify producer networks representing small farmers and workers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, a network of national Fairtrade organizations around the world promote Fairtrade in their countries. In the U.S., Fairtrade America is the partner organization that audits and certifies fair trade coffee sales and purchases by Steep & Brew.
Any product packaging or literature displaying the Fairtrade International logo must also be reviewed and approved by Fairtrade America prior to its use in market.
To learn more about how the Fairtrade International system works, visit Fairtrade International, the Fairtrade Resources NetworkFLO-CERT and Fairtrade America. You may also wish to download the following:

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center Logo

Bird Friendly Certified

Consider this: In the time it takes you to drink one cup of coffee, acres of tropical forests are destroyed! Cup after cup, acres upon acres - gone! And as the forests are destroyed, so too are the birds and wildlife that depend upon them!

In addition to deforestation, over 5 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in agricultural, forest and land management, as well as in lawn, garden, park and sports maintenance. In the United States alone, over 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually. The impact from these chemicals on birds, fish and wildlife is unimaginable.

Native and migratory birds are Increasingly dependent upon shade grown coffee farms for food and shelter. The bird friendly coffee farms only harvest coffee from trees planted under the canopy of existing forests. Buying shade grown, organic coffee stamped with the "Bird Friendly" seal off approval not only helps protect wildlife habitats, it also discourages the clearing of forests for development of new coffee farms.

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) encourages the production of shade-grown coffee, and the conservation of migratory birds, through its "Bird Friendly®" seal of approval for coffee growers and roasters.

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center


 USDA Organic Logo

USDA Organic Certification

Organic coffee farmers view the entire farm as one ecosystem. With an emphasis on one healthy biosphere, farmers focus on recycling, composting and soil health, strictly avoiding the use of synthetic herbicides and dangerous pesticides.
The National Organic Program was established to assure consumers that the organic foods they purchase are produced according to standard organic practices and requirements across state and international lines. Organic certification agencies (OCAs) inspect and verify that organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors, and traders are complying with the USDA organic regulations. USDA conducts audits and ensures that the more than 90 organic certification agencies operating around the world are properly certifying organic products. In addition, the USDA conducts investigations and enforcement activities to ensure all products labeled as organic meet the USDA organic regulations.

In order to display the USDA Organic logo on their products, a company must also have a valid organic certificate from a USDA authorized organic certifying agent (i.e.. MOSA). To learn more, visit the USDA National Organic Program. The following are also available for you to download:

Midwest Organic Services Logo

Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA)

MOSA is a non-profit USDA approved organic certification agency, based in Wisconsin and operating throughout the Midwest. They are recognized for their knowledge of organic practices, and consistent commitment to organic integrity. Steep & Brew works with MOSA to ensure our facility and products are in compliance with USDA organic requirements. MOSA associates visit our facility to inspect inventory, observe operations, and audit organic product purchases and sales. MOSA also reviews and approves the use of USDA and MOSA logos and information on our packaging. MOSA is also our source for standards and practice upgrades and education as it relates to organic handlers.

Find out more, visit Midwest Organic Services Association.

Kosher Certified Logo for Wisconsin

Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin

Kosher is a process by which food items are handled and prepared in a proper or acceptable way, according to Jewish laws and traditions. Steep & Brew facilities are inspected by a member of The Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin, and procedures outlined to which we must adhere in the storage, roasting, flavoring and packaging of our coffee.
All of our coffee is Kosher Certified.
For more information, visit KosherWisconsin.com

Additional Resources

The organizations and certifications above represent the major players in the specialty coffee industry, but there are many more. And there is much debate about the impact of each organization and the costs/impact of certifications. Some roasters attempt to bypass it all through direct trade, or by creating their own certifications. Be weary of companies that claim their products are fairly traded yet refuse to partner with certifying organizations, often on the pretense of avoiding the administrative fees, so that they can give a larger share to the growers. While their intentions may be good, they are not supporting the inspection services and expertise provided by these NGO's to growers around the world, which are crucial to improving both living conditions and farming practices on a worldwide scale. They are also not submitting their own operations to inspections from certifying agencies, which confirm and compare wholesale purchases to retail sales, and monitor their practices. Education, correct practices, inspection and enforcement from grower through producer to retailer are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the fair trade and organic supply chains.

Below are some links that compare and contrast some of the different organizations, and discuss the pros and cons of each certification and why they matter.


(Updated 06/24/2015)