Driven by a desire to develop a global measurement standard for the coffee industry, the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), Rainforest Alliance and Waterwatch Cooperative spent nearly two years working collaboratively on a common language for sustainability efforts.  Their work created the Coffee Data Standard for the Global Coffee Platform, which includes input from 78 coffee industry experts and executives, and allows all stakeholders in the coffee industry to utilize the same sustainability metrics.

The Coffee Data Standard employs a monitoring approach at the farming level, simplifying data collection efforts and reducing the burden on farmers.  The practical metrics can then be incorporated into supplier reporting systems, leading to more efficient transactions, more effective resource allocation and an enhanced ability to strategically plan future sustainability investments.

The COSA team contributed their extensive global experience with sustainability metrics to help identify the 15 indicators as the baseline of the Coffee Data Standard. These indicators are functional across origins, comparable over time, and align with key social, economic, and environmental impact areas.

Having this common language for all the stakeholders in the coffee industry creates a more equal playing field – for farmers, roasters, traders, government agencies, and nonprofits, everyone benefits by leveraging their resources, for learning and to reduce risks, while implementing sustainability initiatives.  It also allows for increased traceability of efforts and an opportunity for more credible narratives.

This global collaborative effort might have taken nearly two years to complete, but the final product, the Coffee Data Standard, sets the standard for practical, efficient sustainability initiatives in any industry.