Process · How to obtain a 4C License

Join the 4C Verification Process - Step by Step

How to obtain a 4C License

To receive and maintain a 4C Licence, three main steps are required.

1. Preparation of Verification

Check compliance of all Business Partners to the 4C System and confirm that no Unacceptable Practices of the 4C Code of Conduct exist in the 4C Unit.

Step 1 Organisation of a 4C Unit

  • Study the 4C System (ME)
  • Define who will be responsible for the farmers group, or, the 4C unit (ME)
  • Identify all participants of the 4C unit, together with the farmers (ME)
  • Design the supply chain and flow of coffee within the 4C unit (ME)
  • Communicate to all BPs the sustainability concept of the 4C System (ME)
  • Obtain the acceptance of participants in the 4C unit by all BPs (ME)
  • Make a diagnosis of the compliance level of all BPs to the 4C Code of Conduct (ME)
  • Confirm that none of the unacceptable practices of the 4C Code of Conduct exist in the 4C unit (ME)
  • Implement the principles of the 4C Code of Conduct within the 4C unit (ME)
  • Create an Internal Management System (IMS) for the 4C unit (ME)
  • Implement the IMS within the 4C unit (ME)

ME: Managing Entity
BP: Business Partners
IMS: Internal Management System

2. Verification Process

All 4C Verification processes start with the application at CAS, before an actual audit takes place and the license can be issued. Verification of compliance must be carried out by an independent third-party certification body, which is approved by CAS.

Step 2 Application for verification

  • Select a verifier company which is approved by CAS (ME)
  • Fill in the application documents and send them to the selected verifier company (ME)
  • Verifier company registers the application in CAS portal (VC)
  • Managing entity confirms application in CAS portal (ME)
  • CAS validates the start of the application process (CAS)
  • Verifier company does the evaluation of the application documents and communicates with managing entity until the documents are ready to the approved (VC)
  • Verifier company accesses the results of the unit’s previous verification and prepares the verification plan (VC)
  • Verifier company registers the verification plan in CAS protal (VC)
  • CAS validates the start of the on-site verification (CAS)

ME: Managing Entity
VC: Verifier Company
CAS: Coffee Assurance Services

Step 3 On-site verification

  • Verifier company verifies the managing entitie’s compliance to the 4C Code of Conduct onsite (VC)
  • Verifier company sends to CAS the verification report together with all pertinent documents and evidences (VC)

VC: Verifier Company

Step 4 Report evaluation

  • CAS evaluates the verification report together with all pertinent documents and evidences (CAS)

CAS: Coffee Assurance Services

Step 5 License decision

  • CAS issues a license decision (CAS)

CAS: Coffee Assurance Services

3. Maintenance of the License

In order to maintain the 4C License, Managing Entities of 4C Units must submit two Annual Updates (one per year after the License is issued) submit the Improvement Plan to report the implementation progress of planned actions related to good agricultural and management practices as described in 4C Code of Conduct. Additionally, Managing Entities of 4C Units must report annually the volumes of coffee traded as 4C Compliant Coffee through the CAS Portal.

Step 6 Continuous Improvement

  • Define and measure sustainability improvement actions according to the 4C Code of Conduct (ME)
  • Write up a plan as part of the unit’s Internal Management System (ME)
  • Send the improvement plan to CAS, in case this was requested by CAS when receiving a 4C License (ME)
  • CAS evaluates and approves the Improvement Plan (CAS)
  • Receive approval from CAS (ME)
  • Apply the plan within the unit (ME)
  • Measure the results and impact of the IP (ME)
  • Prepare for the follow-up verification, in case this was requested by CAS when receiving a 4C License (ME)

ME: Managing Entity
CAS: Coffee Assurance Services
IP: Improvement Plan

Step 7 Periodic monitoring - Annual update - end of year 1

  • Send to CAS an updated set of documents (ME)
  • CAS evaluates and approves AU1 (CAS)
  • Receive approval from CAS (ME)

AU1: Annual Update end of year 1
ME: Managing Entity
CAS: Coffee Assurance Services

Step 8 Periodic monitoring - Annual update - end of year 2

  • Send to CAS an updated set of documents (ME)
  • CAS evaluates and approves AU2 (CAS)
  • Receive approval from CAS (ME)

AU2: Annual Update end of year 2
ME: Managing Entity
CAS: Coffee Assurance Services

Step 9 Application for reverification

  • Restart from step 1 (ME)

ME: Managing Entity

Definition of a 4C Unit and what to consider

4C Compliant Coffee is coffee that has been produced in accordance with the 4C Code of Conduct, a set of sustainable practices and principles for the production of green coffee beans. The 4C Code of Conduct applies to any type of producing entity (4C Units) based in any coffee producing country that wish to produce and sell coffee as 4C Compliant. The  4C Unit concept is very inclusive and covers any type of production facility and/or process (a group of small-scale farmers, a cooperative or a farmers’ association, a collecting station, a mill, a local trader, an export organisation, or even a roaster). There are two prerequisites to qualify as a 4C Unit:

  • Be able to produce and supply a minimum of one container of green coffee (20 tons)
  • Have a person or a group of people (Managing Entity) who can ensure the implementation of the 4C Code of Conduct

In order to receive a 4C License, a 4C Unit must comply with the 4C Code of Conduct and adhere to requirements relating to the organisation and management of the Unit in order to sell coffee as 4C Compliant. Additionally, Managing Entities of 4C Units must implement an Internal Management System which ensures that the 4C Code of Conduct and other requirements are properly put into practice by the Managing Entity and all Business Partners within the 4C Unit.

Set of documents to prepare per verification scope

Initial Verification

  • 4C Assessment Tool
  • Business Partner Mapping
  • Organisational Chart

Reverification

  • 4C Assessment Tool
  • Updated Business Partner Mapping
  • Updated Organisational Chart
  • Updated Improvement Plan

Addendum

  • 4C Assessment Tool
  • Updated Business Partner Mapping
  • Updated Organisational Chart
  • Updated Improvement Plan

Follow-Up

  • Improvement Plan
  • Assessment Tool
  • Business Partner Mapping
  • Organisational Chart

Annual Update

  • Improvement Plan
  • Assessment Tool
  • Business Partner Mapping
  • Organisational Chart