Caribou Coffee recently announced that it will be sourcing all of its beans from Rainforest Alliance certified farms by the end of 2011.
Caribou has been working towards this goal since mid-2006. Many of its coffees contain varying levels of Rainforest Alliance certified beans; Rainforest Alliance allows use of their seal on packages containing a minimum of 30% certified beans, so long as the percentage is displayed on the seal. That made me wonder if this announcement meant that every variety of coffee at Caribou would have RA-certified beans, or that every variety would consist of 100% RA-certified beans.
At the recent Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) event, I verified that every variety of coffee at Caribou would consist of 100% RA-certified beans. This certification doesn’t necessarily mean it is shade-grown coffee, but meets a variety of environmental and social criteria.
Caribou Coffee is the second largest coffeeshop operation, behind Starbucks, with over 530 stores in 16 states as well as outside the U.S. It currently has seven varieties which are 100% RA-certified: Colombia Timaná (my personal favorite), Guatemala El Paraíso, Sumatra Samosir Batak, La Minita Peaberry, Costa Rica Sombra del Poro, Lacuna (a blend of Guatemala, El Salvador and Ethiopia), and Lakeshore Blend (Guatemala, Costa Rica and Ethiopia). Including other coffee offerings which are at least 30% RA-certified, Caribou currently sources about 17 million pounds of coffee a year from RA-certified farms.