Rift Valley Trading Your Partner for Reliable and Sustainable Sourcing

Our Certifications


Services“Fair trade coffee” is coffee which is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee. Fair trade coffee is one of many fair trade certified products available around the world. The purpose of fair trade is to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic incentive for producers. Coffee farmers producing fair trade certified coffee are required to be part of a co-op with other local growers. The coops determine how the premiums from fair trade coffee will be spent. Growers are guaranteed a minimum price for the coffee, and if market prices exceed the minimum, they receive a per pound premium. Fair Trade coffee has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years, and is now offered at most places coffee is sold. This black and white "Fair Trade Certified" seal is the most recognized worldwide.


ServicesServices“Organic Certified Coffee” sold in the United States (U.S.), must be produced under the strict U.S. standards set by “USDA’s National Organic Program.” In general, Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, [food] processors, retailers and restaurants.

Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:

  • No human sewage sludge fertilizer used in cultivation of plants or feed of animals
  • Avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of biosolids;
  • Use of farmland that has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
  • Keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  • Maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • Undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

Certification and verification is overseen by a third party, usually by an accredited certifying agencies located around the world. In addition to the certifying agencies, certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers. Fees of the certification process vary by the certifying body, which includes initial certification process and annual auditing purposes.

If the purchased coffee has both Organic and Fair Trade (see above) Certifications, the producing cooperative receives a price premium up to 15 cents a pound in addition to its original Organic premium price. Producers should get better pricing if certified Organic. For additional information visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop


ServicesThe“Rainforest Alliance” is a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the published aims of working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. It is based in New York City, and has offices throughout the United States and worldwide. Their sustainable agriculture program certifies many crops, including coffee. The annual fees to producers based on the size of the farm and the Annual auditing activities.

Certification is awarded based on a score for meeting a minimum number of an array of criteria. The Rainforest Alliance works to help people of all ages understand the role that every person plays in biodiversity conservation. They do this through their education site—developed in conjunction with education experts—and their Adopt-a-Rainforest program. They also work with several schools around the country, to help teachers implement the lesson plans.

This certification is also used by the producers to negotiate better prices for their coffee green beans, which they can receive usually an additional 10 cents per pound. For more information about the Rainforest Alliance, visit their site at www.rainforest-alliance.org.

BIRD-FRIENDLY (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center)

Services“Bird Friendly” is a certification created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), which is part of the National Zoo based in Washington, D.C. Bird Friendly standards are the strictest of the third-party environmental standards. To have this seal also improves to sell your coffee beans at a better price point, usually 10 cents more. In addition, those who have Organic certification will receive a premium pricing for their green coffee beans. Every day more and more coffee plantations are being certified with the SMBC "Bird Friendly" seal of approval because it is the only 100%-organic shade-grown coffee certification available.

For criteria and general information, visit their website at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/coffee/roaster.cfm. Since the Bird Friendly certification process is usually conducted along with Organic certification, producers usually pay for initial and periodic audits. The certification lasts for three years. Importers pay a fee of $100/yr, and roasters pay 25 cents/lb. This is one way where the bird conservation research is raising funds for their operation.


Services“UTZ CERTIFIED” is a certification program for agricultural products launched in 2002 which claims to be the largest coffee certifier in the world. It was formerly known as Utz Kapeh. On the 7th of March, 2007, the Utz Kapeh Foundation officially changed its name and logo to “UTZ CERTIFIED 'Good Inside'.” UTZ CERTIFIED is a foundation for the worldwide implementation of a baseline standard for responsible coffee, cocoa, tea and rooibos growing and sourcing. UTZ certified cooperatives, estate farms and producer groups comply with the Code of Conduct for the respective products. This Code is an internationally recognized set of criteria for professional coffee growing, which includes socially and environmentally appropriate coffee growing practices, and efficient farm management.

UTZ CERTIFIED products are traceable from grower to end product manufacturers (e.g. in coffee this is the roaster); they operate an advanced web-based track-and-trace system, showing the buyers of UTZ certified products credibly link to the certified source(s). Some coffee brands and retailers also provide their customers with this transparency through online coffee tracers. UTZ certified coffee is sold in more than 20 consuming countries, including the US, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Japan. UTZ CERTIFIED coffee producers are located in Africa, Asia and Latin America

A Certification body is an independent, third-party certifier with ISO 65 accreditation. When approved by UTZ CERTIFIED, the Certification bodies conduct annual certification inspections of coffee producers to determine whether they comply with the UTZ CERTIFIED Code of Conduct and Chain of Custody requirements. Fees to producers include auditing fees. As it is true with the certification discussed above, UTZ CERTIFIED can also be used for a better price negotiation, which is about 5 to 6 cents per pound for Arabica coffee beans.

For additional information, visit www.utzcertified.org.

Rift Valley Trading
Specialty Coffee Association of America - 2012 Member