About · Welcome to the world of 4C

Providing independent, credible and innovative solutions for sustainable supply chains

4C in a nutshell

Credible certification for sustainable and climate friendly coffee supply chains

4C stands for “Common Code for the Coffee Community” and global leading certification scheme for the sustainable cultivation and processing of coffee. Over 10% of the global coffee area is 4C certified. 4C is currently active in 20 countries, where over 300,000 coffee farmers produce 1.6 million tons of 4C certified coffee on nearly 1 million ha of land. The 4C standard is inclusive and aims to reach even the smallest farms: four out of five producers are smallholders.

The 4C standard ensures that coffee cultivation is not contributing to the cutting of primary forest or reduction of biodiversity, that good agricultural practices and the protection of soil, water and air is applied, that human, labour and land rights are respected and that farmers are sufficiently trained to increase productivity and profitability.

Our statement

As an independent and stakeholder-driven standard for the entire coffee sector, 4C aims at strengthening the production of environmentally friendly, socially fair, and economically viable coffee worldwide.4C is a credible and robust system, applying innovative audit and risk assessment procedures, and is strengthened by a comprehensive integrity program. 4C brings real impact on the ground, enabling continuous improvement and enhancing smallholder livelihoods, and supports companies in achieving and keeping their sustainability commitments.

4C Code of Conduct – at the core of the system

4C certified coffee is one that has been produced in accordance with the 4C Code of Conduct, which was developed in a comprehensive and transparent multi-stakeholder process involving coffee producers, trade and industry, as well as various civil society organizations from around the world. The 4C Code of Conduct lays out 4C sustainability principles and criteria across three dimensions of sustainability.

Economic dimension

  • Business Management
  • Capacity and Skill Development
  • Access to Services and Market Information
  • Traceability

Social dimension

Environmental dimension

  • Protection of Biodiversity and High Carbon Stock Areas
  • Use of Pesticides and Other Hazardous Chemicals
  • Soil Conservation and Fertility
  • Water Conservation
  • Waste Management
  • Energy Consumption
  • «4C Add-on: 4C Climate Friendly»

Why use 4C?


All-in-one: 4C represents sustainability, innovation, and reliability 

It is a trustworthy and secure system, relying on modern technologies and profound training to monitor the compliance and continuous improvement of participating farmers and partners along the supply chain.

4C for producers

  • 4C enables socially and environmentally beneficial farming with good agricultural and management practices
  • Improvement plans ensure increasing performance across sustainability dimensions
  • Inclusive approach: Four out of five 4C coffee producers are smallholders
  • Increased productivity and profitability through capacity building measures
  • Integrated smallholder solutions to achieve real impact on the ground
  • Improved access to information and new international coffee markets
  • General professionalization of coffee production, in particular for small and medium-sized producers
  • Contribution to better working and living conditions
  • Pursuing access to markets and better income with certified coffee

4C for traders, brand owners and roasters 

  • Strict sustainability criteria and 4C Chain of Custody certification for intermediary and final buyers for increased credibility
  • Independent recognized third-party certification (ISO 17065 and ISEAL Assurance Guidance, ITC, SAI Silver Level Compliance, actively contributing to the majority of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 
  • 4C is a toolbox for companies to assess and address risks in their supply chains and meet the increasing due diligence requirements 
  • 4C capacity building measures ensure professionalism, impartiality, and reliability
  • 4C Integrity program ensures integrity and trustworthiness of the system
  • Latest remote sensing technologies and databases are used to strengthen forest and biodiversity preservation
  • Curbing carbon footprint via measurement of carbon emissions, their reduction as well as in- and offsetting
  • 4C is a guarantee for your commitment to sustainable sourcing and traceable supply chains
  • 4C logo increases visibility and supports claims to the final customer

To download the latest 4C brochure, please click here

What do system users say about 4C?



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Beyond certification

4C is carrying out sustainability projects to achieve an additional impact on the environment and producer livelihoods.

Our signature projects include:

Further projects in the pipeline:

  • Empowering women in coffee
  • Enhancing soil health on coffee plantations

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