4C Compliant Coffee is coffee that has been produced in accordance with the 4C Code of Conduct, a set of baseline sustainable practices and principles for the production of green coffee beans. Compliance can be demonstrated through the 4C Verification System and the 4C Licenses that are subsequently issued. The responsibility for operating the 4C Verification System belongs to Coffee Assurance Services (CAS).
The 4C Code of Conduct applies to any type of producing entity (“4C Unit”) based in any coffee producing country that wishes to produce and sell coffee as 4C Compliant. The term “4C Unit” is inclusive and covers any type of production facility and/or process: it can be a group of farmers, a cooperative or a farmers’ association, a collecting station, a mill, a local trader, an export organisation, or even a roaster (as long as it is based in a country where coffee is produced). There must be an established entity who can ensure the implementation of the 4C Code of Conduct. The 4C system calls this a Managing Entity of the 4C Unit.
Verification of adherence to the principles of the 4C Code of Conduct is carried out by an auditing company (a “4C verifier”), approved by Coffee Assurance Services. A list of approved 4C verifiers can be found in the Documents section below. The approach of the 4C Code of Conduct is to enable coffee producers around the globe to take the first steps on their sustainability journey. The inclusive nature of the 4C Code of Conduct aims to reach out to producers who are currently not participating in the market for sustainable coffee and bring them into compliance with an entry level of sustainability. The intention is to gradually improve the social, economic and environmental conditions of coffee production and processing worldwide.
In order to achieve this, the 4C Code of Conduct comprises:
Regarding the 3 dimensions of sustainability, the 4C Code of Conduct encompasses the following principles:
8 Economic principles:
- 10 “Unacceptable Practices” which have to be eliminated before applying for 4C Verification.
- 27 principles covering economic, social, and environmental dimensions. These principles are based on good agricultural and management practices, as well as international conventions and recognized guidelines accepted in the coffee sector and;
9 Social Principles:
3 principles on coffee farming as a business (1.1 – 1.3);
5 principles on the support to farmers by the Managing Entity of a 4C Unit (1.4 – 1.8).
10 Environmental principles:
2 principles applicable to all farmers and other business partners (2.1 - 2.2);
7 principles applicable to workers (2.3 - 2.9).
6 principles applicable to natural resources (3.1, 3.4, 3.6 - 3.9);
3 principles applicable to the use of agrochemicals (3.2, 3.3, 3.5);
1 principle applicable to energy (3.10).
Coffee Assurance Services has also compiled a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) which cover most aspects of the 4C Verification system. For further details or clarification, please contact Coffee Assurance Services at firstname.lastname@example.org
4C License Decisions
Evaluation of on-site verification reports and 4C License decisions.
Approval of 4C Verifiers
Training and assessment of independent verifiers according to the 4C Verification System.
Quality assurance of approved 4C Verifiers. Internal and
external oversight planning according to risk assessment and the 4C Quality Management
Data Collection & Analysis
Assessment of verification data and reporting.
Traceability and Commercial Reporting
Assessment of the traceability system and commercial reporting data.
4C Code and Verification System Training
Training on implementation of the 4C Code and Verification System.