Seattle Audubon and the Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign recommend the following certifications as the strongest options for shade coffee certification. While other coffee certifications may claim to include shade criteria (and other criteria for a healthy environment), these are the only certifications that provide consistent, mandatory and science-based criteria that can effectively protect habitat, support farmers, and provide a symbol that consumers can identify.*
Look for these seals of approval on your coffee bag or at your favorite cafe.
Can't find one of these seals of certification?
Sometimes, roasters or retailers choose not to use the seal of approval. Ask them to identify the merits of their great certified coffee by marking their products with labels that you trust. If they're not carrying certified coffee, ask them to get started! Contact us for ideas and resources.
The Bird Friendly® coffee certification program, administered by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), sets the standard for certified shade-grown, organic coffee. SMBC has pioneered much of the leading research exploring the connection between birds, coffee and the farming communities that depend upon healthy, producing forests. The Bird Friendly® certification requires growers to first pursue organic certification; additionally, roasters and retailers participate by paying a fee for use of the certification mark. These funds help to further support the much-needed research to determine the necessary standards for truly sustainable and shade-grown production. The Bird Friendly® program currently certifies mainly on coffee produced in the western hemisphere. Read more at SMBC.
Rainforest Alliance Certified, a certification program administered by the Rainforest Alliance, has developed sustainable product certifications for coffee, cocoa, sugar, produce, flowers and much more. Rainforest Alliance in a non-profit leader in product certification, working with partners around the world to address the needs of farmers and meet the demands of consumers. Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee must meet rigorous criteria, including shade and forest structure, water quality and agrochemical management criteria. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms cover produce coffee in the western hemisphere as well as Africa and Asia. Roaster and retailers selling RA Certified coffee may use the certification seal, free of charge, upon registering with the program. Read more at RA.
NOTE: Seattle Audubon does not recommend Rainforest Alliance's certification of coffees produced in areas where the original ecosystem is not forest. In these environments, such as in regions of Brazil, shade-grown coffee cannot be cultivated, as coffee is being grown without the cover of forest.
Interested in more?
Read our Frequently Asked Questions page
Get involved with our efforts to promote shade-grown coffee.
*OCIA Organic certification offers an option for certified organic coffee to be inspected according to an additional series of shade coffee criteria. Seattle Audubon and the NWSCC do not recommend this certification option in part because at the present time, there is no symbol or seal available to distinguish between coffee that is certified organic and coffee certified organic with the additional (and important) shade criteria.