Rainforest Alliance

World Champions Win With Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffees
Sustainable Management Practices Produce Top-Quality Beans

New York – Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees were winners at three recent international coffee competitions, providing concrete evidence that coffee grown in a way that’s good for the planet also tastes great.

Troels Overdal Poulsen, a master coffee brewer from Denmark, won first place in the 2005 World Barista Championship with a 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Brazil. Poulsen competed against 34 champions from around the world in the April 15-18 competition held in Seattle, Washington. He selected a Daterra Estate blend from Brazil to create his world-class espresso. Known both for its excellent quality coffee and for its commitment to outstanding social programs and sustainable farming techniques, Daterra was the first farm in Brazil to become certified by the Rainforest Alliance for meeting a host of rigorous environmental and social criteria.

According to Poulsen, “One of the main reasons for choosing Daterra coffee was that I wanted to use a coffee that, in addition to being a fantastic product, was also a statement of responsibility and respect.”

“This is exactly what the Rainforest Alliance certification is about,” states Sabrina Vigilante, marketing manager for the organization. “The Rainforest Alliance seal of approval proves to users and consumers that these products are doing what they claim.” Rainforest Alliance certification requires farmers to adhere to environmental and social standards that conserve habitat, protect forests and wildlife, and ensure good conditions for workers, their families and surrounding communities.

“Rainforest Alliance certification is precisely the criteria that set up circumstances for producing great coffee,” explains Martin Diedrich, coffee industry veteran and winner of the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2005 lifetime achievement award.

Luis Pascoal of Daterra agrees: “The Rainforest Alliance concept is a very broad and comprehensive approach to sustainability, and the same concepts that are fundamentals for sustainability are fundamentals for quality.”

Recognition for outstanding quality is not new for Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees, but part of a growing trend. Over the past year, coffees certified by the organization have been acclaimed by industry professionals around the world. In the recent Nicaragua and El Salvador ‘Q Auctions’ – an Internet coffee auction controlled by the Coffee Quality Institute — Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees performed superbly. Coffees were judged by an international jury in ten categories, such as fragrance, body and acidity, for a total possible score of 100. All Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees submitted for evaluation ranked above 80, which means they achieved status as “specialty coffee”-- the top grade of coffees in the world. After the judging in March and April, the coffees were auctioned over the Internet.

At the Rainforest Alliance’s second annual Cupping for Quality event, held in April at the Specialty Coffee Association of America headquarters in Long Beach, California, Rainforest Alliance coffees again proved top-notch. At the event, where only Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees were evaluated, a panel of coffee tasting experts sampled more than 38 Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees in blind taste tests. The Carmen Estate in Panamá scored the highest with an impressive 90.75 points, and all coffees submitted achieved specialty coffee status with scores over 80. Cupping for Quality adheres to the stringent Specialty Coffee Association of America cupping protocol and grading system, also used by the Q Auction.

Another Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Panama set an online coffee auction record last year, selling for $21/pound unroasted. Finca Esmeralda’s unprecedented price followed its first place win in the Best of Panamá cupping competition in April 2004, with a score of 95.6 out of 100. The same coffee also achieved first place in the Rainforest Alliance’s first Cupping for Quality event in March 2004.

That the Rainforest Alliance consistently produces award-winning, first-rate coffees is due in large part to the organization’s holistic certification standards, which directly influence quality through careful care of the land and good treatment of workers. “Our workers are proud to be on our farm,” says Carlos Aguilera Franceschi of Carmen Estate, winner of the 2005 Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event. “We pay them well, and they pick excellent cherries and care more for the product. Theyre happier, more invested. We are happier because we have better processing.”

Linda Smithers, president of Susans Coffee and Tea and past president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) agrees: “Theres a direct correlation between quality and workers who are satisfied. If its more than a job for workers, the quality is there in how they work.”

The Rainforest Alliance works to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Companies, cooperatives and landowners that participate in our programs meet rigorous standards that conserve biodiversity and provide sustainable livelihoods.

As the first organization in the world to utilize market forces to conserve tropical forests, launching a sustainable forestry division in 1989 and a sustainable agriculture division in 1991, the Rainforest Alliance pioneered a worldwide certification movement. Over 40 million acres are now managed according to the highest standards through the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program. The Rainforest Alliance has recruited over 1,100 companies in this effort and improved the quality of life of some tens of thousands workers and their families. The Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable agriculture certification program has certified almost 1,000 farming operations, including plantations and cooperatives, and has benefited over 95,000 farm families in the tropics. For more information, visit


Bina Venkataraman
Sarah O’Braitis