4C Services GmbH


4C (The Common Code for the Coffee Community) is an independent third-party certification system for the sustainable cultivation, processing and trading of coffee. The aim of 4C is to anchor sustainability in the coffee sector. Independent third-party audits ensure compliance with economic, social and environmental criteria for coffee production and processing to establish credible and traceable sustainable coffee supply chains.

4C’s sustainability principles are set out in 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. More details are available here: https://www.4c-services.org/about/4c-benefits/

4C contributes to the protection of landscapes with high biodiversity and carbon values, the protection of natural resources and better working conditions along the supply chain. Improved agricultural practices and the participation in sustainable global supply chains significantly improves the livelihoods of farmers, their families, and the whole community. The resulting impacts therefore directly and indirectly contribute on many levels to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN (https://www.4c-services.org/about/what-is-4c/).


4C is member or partner of several organisations such as DKV, GCP and SCC. More details are available here: https://www.4c-services.org/about/recognitions-memberships/

Key activities:

Certification: the 4C standard ensures that coffee cultivation is not contributing to deforestation 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. Requirements on traceability ensure that the physical flow of the coffee can be traced throughout the supply chain.

Risk assessment: 4C uses an innovative tool for risk assessment based on remote-sensing technologies helping 4C and its auditors to verify land use change and identify social risk areas. The tool includes data from local and national datasets on biodiversity and protected areas as well as social indices, such as the Global Hunger Index (GHI), World Governance Indicators (WGI), Global Slavery Index (GSI), Human Development Index (HDI), etc.

Carbon footprint: 4C also enables the measurement of the carbon footprint of coffee.

Trainings: 4C explains the 4C Code of Conduct to independent auditors, users of the 4C system and other stakeholders.

Research: 4C is engaged in research activities, e.g. impact research together with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy to assess how sustainability certification benefits consumers and producers.

Signature projects/tools:

4C is constantly developing solutions and tools to improve sustainability and transparency along the coffee value chain. More details are available here: https://www.4c-services.org/about/special-features/

The next 4C project will focus on improving livelihoods of Colombian smallholders, contributing to long-term economic and ecologic viability of their farms, increasing attractiveness for young adults, and market uptake in Europe.

Priority Countries and corresponding areas of activities:

Brazil: Labour conditions – Climate change – Forest conservation & restoration – Standards/certification

Colombia: Gender, youth & indigenous peoples – Climate change – Forest conservation & restoration – Standards/certification

Honduras: Climate change – Forest conservation & restoration – Technical assistance – Standards/certification

Indonesia: Climate change – Forest conservation & restoration – Technical assistance – Standards/certification

Vietnam: Climate change – Water conservation – Forest conservation & restoration – Standards/certification