British Coffee Association - Sustainable Coffee Cultivation
Sustainable Coffee Cultivation

Sustainable Coffee Cultivation

Responsibility and sustainability in the Coffee Industry

British Coffee Association members are among some of the world’s leading manufacturers, traders and marketers of coffee and have responsibilities to consumers, customers, employees and shareholders, but also to the livelihoods of the many thousands of coffee growers.

Coffee, like any commodity, is traded on the open market and prices over time can fluctuate based on supply and demand.

The British Coffee Association members, as part of the EU coffee industry, fully support moves to address the problems that exist within the coffee community, particularly with regard to the issue of the supply and demand that resulted in low green coffee prices in the early 2000's.

Attention remains focused on the economic distress that can be caused to coffee growers in several parts of the world.

Coffee bean world map illustrationThe UK coffee trade and industry is committed to working with a wide range of partners including charities, governments and farmers to address the various issues affecting coffee growers.

The basis for this work is the concept of sustainability, which addresses three key areas of concern: economic, social and environmental. British Coffee Association members are actively involved because it is in everybody’s interest to ensure a sustainable market for coffee, from producer to consumer.

To encourage demand and increased coffee consumption, manufacturers are investing in product development and innovation as well as implementing programmes to ensure a balanced message is given on health issues. Establishing a strong demand for coffee is a vital element of protecting a healthy market.

In coffee origin areas, manufacturers are implementing a range of programmes designed to support producers, for example, through quality improvement, farm certification and direct-buying initiatives. These enable farmers to improve their position in the market and support their long-term sustainability. Active programmes also seek to increase coffee consumption in producing countries.

Seventy percent of the world’s coffee continues to be grown on farms of less than 10 hectares. Of the world’s 25 million farmers in the 50 developing countries that grow coffee, most sell relatively small quantities – sometimes as little as only a few bags per year – to local traders, co-operatives, exporters and manufacturers.

UK coffee manufacturers purchase much of their green beans from exporters or international trading houses. Coffee manufacturers also buy green beans “direct” from farmers or co-operatives where possible, however this is on a relatively small scale as dealing directly with 25 million farmers is not feasible.

Purchasing coffee “direct” from farmers and co-operatives is one means of helping farmers produce sustainable, good quality crops, which in turn provides them with the means to achieve a long term livelihood and adequate income.

The coffee trade and industry are involved in a variety of programmes whose aim is to give direct support to farmers and their communities by offering technical assistance, better access to information about the markets, as well as training and education.

Members of the British Coffee Association aim to help all farmers achieve lasting benefits and are focusing on programmes which bring the concept of sustainability to the mainstream coffee market. The BCA is a member of the Common Code for the Coffee Community Association (4C). For more information visit: