Certifications are a method that allow the consumer to readily identify a set of standards applied to a specific origin coffee. Here are a few of the more popular:
Bird-Friendly (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center)
Grown under the most stringent environmental standards of any certification system, and it is also required to be certified organic. Certification standards cover everything from canopy height to insect biodiversity to protect the wildlife that lives where coffee is grown. If you see this seal, it is one of the best assurances that the coffee was grown with biodiversity and sustainability as top priorities.
An important indication that many (but not necessarily all) chemical inputs have been eliminated or reduced. Generally, coffee that is organic is grown under at least some shade cover (which preserves biodiversity).
Has environmental criteria, although organic certification is not required. A coffee may carry the seal and only contain 30% certified beans. Look for coffee that says it is 100% Rainforest Alliance certified, and/or certified organic.
Fair Trade USA Certified
Means the coffee was produced by a democratic cooperative, without child labor, that there are restrictions on the use of herbicides and pesticides, and that the final exporter is paid a minimum price and a price premium of 20¢ per pound.