More than ever coffee consumers, roasters, and growers are attentive to the environmental impact of the coffee industry. Farming practices have an effect on the environment, human and animal health, and rural, often fragile economies.

Old City Coffee is dedicated to offering Philadelphia coffee drinkers high quality heirloom and shade grown beans with fine taste characteristics, roasted to the peak of flavor. Since 1985, we have honed our in-house expertise in careful sourcing. Many of our Arabica coffees have third party certifications that provide consumers additional assurance of a coffee’s integrity and quality. While the majority of the coffees we sell are shade grown, many are from small farms that do not carry certifications.

We list certifications as a guide in helping you make informed choices. We caution that organic, shade grown, or UTZ certification is not a measure of a coffee’s taste. Many great tasting coffees are produced with certified eco-friendly methods, but great tasting coffees can also be grown on large commercial non-organic or “sun” farms. There are many organically grown and traditional shade grown coffees we highly recommend that are not certified. Our retail displays are clearly labeled.

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.

UTZ Certified products have been sourced, from farm to shop shelf, in a sustainable manner. Their farmers are certified on a range of criteria including environmental, agricultural, and labor practices. In 2020 UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance are merging as a singular certifying organization for sustainable practices. Our Reading Blend, Old City Blend and 1893 Blend are made from UTZ Certified, shade grown beans.

Old City Blend, our best selling coffee, includes a base of beans directly sourced from the India state of Tamil Nadu, a pristine area bordered by jungle near the Arabian Sea, an ideal landscape for two-tiered shade grown coffees. The Arabica Typica Kent heirloom plants are intercropped with orange and black pepper trees whose aromatics can be detected in the cup! These beans are hand-picked and sorted on this UTZ Certified plantation which means that workers are guaranteed safe conditions and are fairly paid. We continuously scout for similar shade grown coffees from all growing regions. Our African coffees, and many others are minimally processed, grown and hand tended in the shade.

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.”