What does a certification certify?

In the lab

What does a certification certify?

| 2019-04-09

We often listen to people talking about certifications in coffee (as in food in general), and relating them directly to quality. But, what do they actually certify? Are these really quality parameters?

To start, we should first recognize them. What are the certifications most known in the coffee world?

There are certainly a lot, but we would try to talk about the most used and known.


Concerning its production system

Organic agriculture

Certainly one of the best known, as in other food products (and further than just eatable products), this certification ensures a way of producing respecting well specified and very strict norms and a zero tolerance concerning the non-utilization of chemical products.

The production, as well as the consumption of organic coffees, has two kinds of adherents:

Those wishing to satisfy an existing market (from the side producer as from the roaster’s side) and those being on organic by own conviction and with their own philosophy about it.



Trade model

Fair Trade

This certification is certainly not unknown for you. It is perhaps the most known certification used in the trade model between the producer and the consumer world.

What does it certify?

That producers/cooperatives having this certification have received a higher price than the international coffee price for their coffees.



Production model involving social and environmental aspects

These certifications ensure not only a well-defined production model, but also involve aspects having an impact on :

- the communities where the coffee is producing, meaning, a social impact. Some examples are 4C and UTZ.

- the environment where the coffee is produced. Some examples are Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly.



Certifications related to origin

More and more presents in the coffee world (in Colombia for many years with their PGI, or in Apaneca –El Salvador- with their PDO), these certifications ensure more than the origin of a coffee, they are supposed to ensure the sensory typicity of a coffee and the specificity due to its zone/region of production. This means that these certifications would have two main aspects:

-       Delimitation of the production area (with its consequent name’s respect)

-       Respect of a sensory typicity (mainly, what is the difference between a coffee from Colombia and one from Guatemala?)

So… what about quality ?

Each of these certifications can ensure you the respect of well established norms, concerning the different aspects that they guarantee.

We have seen all of them in our lab, and we can ensure one thing (or perhaps two), concerning their relation to quality:

  • The only certifier would be you and your spoon!
  • Be careful of those who try to ensure you something that a certification doesn’t intend to ensure.

We invite you to watch this video of one of our producer’s partner, concerning the advantages and disadvantages that face the Brazilian organic coffee in Brazil:

If you have problems watching this video, view the web version here

Until the next one,

The Belco Team

I subscribe to the Belco newsletter:
logo BELCO

Follow us:


Please call us: 05 56 16 56 56

Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 19:00


Contact us directly

on our online form.

Legal mentions | Our privacy policy | Terms of Sales