Those interested in the coffee trade will probably have heard of the 4C Association, but may have wondered a little bit more about what it is exactly and – perhaps more importantly – what it actually does.
According to the organisation's official website, it is "the platform that brings together stakeholders in the coffee sector to address sustainability issues in a pre-competitive manner".
Thanks to this, the society transcends borders as an international community bringing coffee lovers the world over together under one global roof.
It currently boasts over 280 members, which are made up of a mix of coffee farming organisations, members of the industry from roasters through to retailers, civil bodies and traders – both importers, like ourselves, and exporters.
Similarly to Fairtrade certification and sustainable practice – among others – the mission of this organisation is "to improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of those who make their living from coffee".
One of its central tenets is a Code of Conduct – the 4C Code – which safeguards equitable, fair, sustainable and transparent practices within the industry. It is made up of 28 different social, environmental and economic principles which ultimately govern the sustainable production, processing and global trading of green coffee.
If you are interested in becoming a member, there are different benefits depending on who you are and the place that you hold within the coffee industry.
For example, for roasters, the primary benefits are five-fold – application of corporate responsibility and commitment to the industry, optimisation of market efficiency, credibility as an organisation by means of stakeholder dialogue, the ability to expand your volumes of sustainably-produced coffee and the possibility to link and engage with other stakeholders all over the world.
According to Samuel Thuo Mungai from 4C member Coffee Management Services Limited in Kenya: "I strongly believe that 4C as a baseline and guidance for gradual improvements will change a lot in the attitude of people involved in the coffee business."