4C Association - 4C Association

The organization's logo

The 4C Association is a non-profit organization with the aim of working conditions and environmental standards as broadly applicable minimum standard of coffee - mass market to improve. [1] [2] Your members are committed to the Common Code for the Coffee Community code of conduct. [3] Your seat is Geneva .

The organization emerged in 2006 from the Common Code for the Coffee Community initiative founded four years earlier (in German, for example: Common Code for the Coffee Community , or CCCC for short , 4C Code or Coffee Code ). Members are coffee producers, representatives from the coffee trade and industry, and civil society organizations. [4] [3]

In 2010, 4C coffee producers supplied 10% of the world's coffee. [5] The organization does not award a seal of approval , but tries to create a basic standard on which initiatives for fair trade or ecological cultivation can build. [3] [2]

The German Society for Technical Cooperation (gtz), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Coffee Association were in charge of drafting the code . These were supplemented by non-governmental organizations such as VENRO or Oxfam and various trade unions .


The initiative is still supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Non-governmental organizations such as OXFAM International, the Christian Initiative Romero (CIR), the Pesticide Action Network(PAN UK) and other civil society actors are members of 4C. On the side of coffee farmers, 4C has producer organizations from Guatemala, Zambia, Kenya, Vietnam, El Salvador, Brazil, Uganda and Colombia, among others. As arguments in favor of membership, they particularly mention the community character with other actors in the coffee chain, the free 4C verification for producers, the support mechanisms for farmers, the increased transparency along the chain and the code of conduct, which is addressed to 90% of producers judge who cannot gain access to higher standards. [6] As a result of the initiative, 4C is not advertised with a label on the packaging and communicated as a decisive step towards sustainability in order to make the difference to higher standards clear to consumers.


Criticism was mainly expressed by fair trade and environmental organizations. FIAN, for example, withdrew from the CCCC due to inadequate human rights obligations and a lack of “transparency and control by civil society and producers”. [7] In response to points of criticism, the approach was supplemented by a set of rules for the industry, which not only includes the obligation for industry and trade to buy increasing quantities of 4C verified coffee, but also coffee farmers with training and access to support optimized management and cultivation practices. In a joint position paper, gepa , WeltPartner eG , El Puenteand Naturland, among other things, the lack of a price guarantee for coffee farmers, as guaranteed by the fair trade seal . The voluntary nature of the code is also viewed critically. Moreover, the fact that the 4C code does not use prohibited pesticides does not guarantee truly sustainable coffee production.



  1. ^ Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C). German Society for International Cooperation, archived from the original on March 28, 2011 ; Retrieved March 28, 2011 .
  2. a b Volker Gehrke: Coffee & Co .: Looking through the confusion of seals. In: service time. Westdeutscher Rundfunk, October 22, 2010, archived from the original on April 14, 2011 ; Retrieved July 4, 2013 .
  3. a b c Melanie Rutten-Sülz: 4C Association - Implementation of social and ecological standards in the mainstream coffee sector. (pdf; 4.6 MB) (No longer available online.) In: Development Cooperation and Economy - Between Confrontation and Cooperation. VENRO - Association of Development Policy of German Non-Governmental Organizations, 2010, pp. 20–24 , archived from the original on December 2, 2013 ; Retrieved March 28, 2011 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/www.venro.org
  4. ^ From a project to an independent association. 4C Association, archived from the original on August 17, 2010 ; accessed on July 4, 2013 .
  5. ^ 4C Association reports continuous growth. (pdf) In: www.4c-coffeeassociation.org. 4C Association, June 2, 2010, archived from the original on July 4, 2010 ; accessed on July 4, 2013 .
  6. Source is missing .
  7. FIAN ends participation in the Common Code for the Coffee Community. Press release. FIAN Germany, archived from the original on October 11, 2007 ; Retrieved September 9, 2013 .