Coffee is the world's second most traded commodity, after oil. As such, it's production and dissemination will inevitably have a high environmental and human impact. At The Place, we are concerned with lessening this impact as much as possible, by utilising the most ethical and environmentally friendly ways to bring your coffee to you.


Third party certification is the practice of providing third-party certification for products that are meet particular standards. They are a way for consumers to identify products that are socially and/or environmentally responsible. Traditional packaging does not tell the consumer much about where a product has come from, or how it has been produced. Consumers who consider environmental or social responsibility an important aspect when choosing products have no way of knowing which products best meet their moral criteria.

Third party labeling is a way to address this. It allows the consumer to make a more informed choice about a product by knowing that it has met a series of set criteria. Third party labelling is a way of making a product stand out in a crowded market; amongst the plethora of different coffee brands out there, third part certified coffee often stands above the rest.

We have outlined below a few of the different companies associated with the environmental and social certification of coffee.

For a more in-depth look at how third party certification works in the marketplace, see Loureiro and Lotade's article ‘Do fair trade and eco-labels in coffee wake up the consumer conscience? in our Reference List.

FAIR TRADE Accessed September 19 2011.
Fair Trade is an international symbol for produce that gives back to the community it comes from. The Fair Trade certification ensures a guaranteed minimum price for coffee producers which is significantly higher than that offered by the mainstream market.

Not only does Fair Trade certification ensure that coffee producers remain competitive in the market, it also enforces the use of environmentally friendly agricultural practices in the production of coffee. This limits the use of agrochemicals and damaging pesticides, ensuring a more environmentally friendly and organic coffee bean. Fair trade also promotes the use of sustainable farming practices to further lessen the environmental impact of coffee production.

Fair Trade products are available in various locations around Toronto. They are a guarantee of good quality coffee that is both socially and environmentally responsible. This lines up neatly with our aim to run a business that is all about coffee, from production through to the delicious brew you buy in the morning.

See also:


Another group providing support and certification for coffee growers is the Rainforest Alliance. This group, like Fair Trade, offers certification for a number of products including tea, fruit, cattle (beef) and cocoa. However, the Rainforest Alliance, unlike Fair Trade, focuses much more on the environmental impact of the production of coffee, looking at the agricultural processes used to cultivate the coffee plant.

Coffee is traditionally grown in rainforest areas. For many years, coffee was grown under the canopy of rainforests, creating and supporting biodiversities and ecosystems. As demand had grown, and the price of coffee fluctuated, a new system of monoculture has developed. This involves clearing vast tracks of valuable forested areas to grow densely planted coffee plants. Whilst this results in a higher yield, valuable forest is permanently lost and the ecosystems developed through the more traditional method of planting are disrupted or destroyed.

The Rainforest Alliance provides support to small producers to return to the old growing methodologies. They offer help to growers to enable them to survive in a fluctuating market by giving them access to premium markets and helping with farm management. Thus, whilst the focus of this group may be on the environmental and agricultural factors, their support also helps producers remain self sufficient, and allows them to compete with the large scale, more environmentally destructive growers.

Seal Your Cup
Accessed 18 September 2011.

The Rainforest Alliance also has a dedicated program aimed at educating consumers about where their coffee comes from and how they can help make a difference to farmers and the environment.


Coffee, particularly take-away coffee, can be particularly harmful to the environment through the copious amount of hard rubbish it generates. Cardboard cups and plastic lids tend to accumulate in landfills, making any company that plans to trade on its environmental credentials seem somewhat hypocritical.

Happily, solutions are available. From funky keep cups to recyclable cups, there are numerous ways in which we can improve in this area.

See also: in our Reference List.

KEEP CUPS Accessed September 9, 2011.

Keep Cups are a slightly different way to embrace sustainable packaging. These nifty little cups are becoming increasingly popular in Melbourne, and as their website shows, are taking off across the globe. LIghtweight plastic cups, Keep Cups come in a number of different sizes to cater to everyone from espresso lovers to those who need the longest of long blacks. They are reusable, reducing the number of cardboard cups being used and thrown away on a daily basis. Just think, even if you only drink one cup of coffee a day, that's still 365 cardboard cups you've saved a year, and over 700 if you're a two a day type of person!

Furthermore, Keep Cups can be personalised and made to order, creating an unique marketing tool that allows our customers to advertise our delicious coffee wherever they go! They're cheap, funky and a great way to advertise not only our delicious coffee, but also our environmental credentials!



Of course, coffee has to come from somewhere, and usually that means suppliers. Using the right suppliers means that we can ensure that all of the things we say we stand for, that is, social and environmental responsibility, are maintained.

GREENBEANERY CANADA Accessed September 9, 2011.


A Canadian coffee supplier, focusing on smaller producers with an eye for environmentally sustainable business practices and policies. Greenbeanery supplies not only coffee, but coffee making equipment such as espresso machines and grinder. They even have a selection of teas! Greenbeanery's central message lines up almost perfectly with our own:

'We not only strive to bring you extraordinary coffees and coffee-making products from around the world, we also work to right failings in the world-wide coffee industry.'

Greenbeanery provide coffee for a number of markets, from small offices to wholesalers and through to the general public. This is a company that, like us, cares about coffee and its impact on the world. They have one of the world's biggest selection of fair trade and organic coffee beans, covering just about every type of coffee one can imagine. As one of the premier coffee retailers in Toronto,the Greenbeanery is evidence not only that good coffee exists in Toronto, but that Torontonians are willing to embrace green coffee. Not just a potential rival, we should take Greenbeanery as a role model!