Third Party Certifications

Third Party Certifications

Old City Coffee has been roasting high quality, Arabica coffee in tiny batches since 1985. We are dedicated to purchasing responsibly grown and certified green coffee beans. Coffee certification organizations vary in their exact standards, but most incentivize sustainable agricultural practices. Here’s a breakdown of some of the certifications you may see at OCC.


UTZ Certified coffees and teas are produced sustainably with a focus on providing growers with the education and resources they need to produce a high quality, environmentally responsible products. This ensures a fair wage to the growers as well as a high quality standard that can be tasted in the cup. UTZ has now merged with the Rainforest Alliance as a singular certifying organization for sustainable practices. Our Old City Blend and South India Blend are UTZ Certified.


Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and teas have been grown in compliance with the Sustainable Agriculture Standard to protect farmers, forests, wildlife and local communities. The RFA was the world’s first sustainable forestry certification program in 1989 and they continue to grow and adapt. New certification standards for the UTZ/ Rainforest Alliance merger are to be announced in 2020, so stay tuned!


For a number of years, the Fair Trade organization has promoted and certified ethical methods used in the trade of various products, including coffee. Fair Trade certification ensures that growers and workers are compensated with fair wages and living conditions, and they have a say in how the profits are distributed. Fair Trade can be found not just on coffee, but a wide variety of products.


Old City Coffee is approved to produce/distribute kosher certified products under Kosher Service. Our coffees are certified Kosher by Rabbi Amiel B. Novoseller.


Shade grown means that the coffee plants grow under a canopy of larger trees mimicking coffee’s growing habit in the wild. These wooded farms create habitat for a diverse range of migratory and native bird species, a variety of insects, reptiles, and other plants and animals. This type of agroforestry creates an ecosystem of healthy plants and crops that require little or no fertilization or pest management.


The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center Bird Friendly certification takes the label “shade grown” one step further. Although shade grown in practical terms can mean one and the same thing as bird friendly, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center set forth a set of criteria for “SMBC Bird Friendly” coffee based on 12 years of Neotropical study of domestic and migratory birds.

The criteria for Bird Friendly coffee were designed to save domestic and migratory birds by reducing their loss of habitat due to cutting of shade trees. The SMBC recognized the need to preserve the forest shade canopy with traditional coffee trees that require shade and provide habitat for migratory birds. SMBC Bird Friendly certification is accompanied by annual third party inspections, which examine for the percentage of shade trees, plant diversification, and accommodating habitat for birds.

IWCA logo

The International Women’s’ Coffee Alliance (IWCA) grows a rich tasting Brazilian heirloom coffee that makes up our Reading Blend and Bulk Coffee. It’s a UTZ Certified estate in Minas Gerais, Brazil. “The mission of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) is to empower women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.”


USDA Organic certification ensures growers do not use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides at any point during coffee production and three years prior. Organic farming methods can strengthen the natural environment’s resistance to disease and is often also shade grown.