Labor Conditions at Origin

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helping farmers & workers

Labor Conditions at Origin

The coffee industry is committed to work with governments and NGOs around the world to source coffee responsibly – and partnerships are essential.
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Learn More About Joining the Sustainable Coffee Challenge

NCA Member Exclusive Resources

The National Coffee Association USA (NCA) has teamed up with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge (SCC), a collaborative initiative facilitated by Conservation International, that is dedicated to making coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. 

With their guidance, and the input of labor-rights-focused organizations, we've curated resources to help the coffee industry understand, address, and help improve conditions around the world for the entire coffee community. (NCA members have access to exclusive content and additional resources.)

To learn more about sustainability in the coffee industry, check out what NCA member companies are doing.

Coffee Industry Resources

Special thanks to Conservation International and the Sustainable Coffee Challenge.


Pocket Guide to Improving Labor and Supply

An overview of key terms, principles for good labor practices in coffee, and a checklist of considerations for addressing risks.

NCA Member Exclusive Resources

Additional labor-related resources exclusively for members. See if your company is an NCA member, or join today. 

Supporting Farmers in a Volatile Market

Learn about the actions companies can take to support farmers through volatile markets.

Sustainable Coffee Challenge

We're better together. Learn how you can get involved in the Sustainable Coffee Challenge.

Code of Conduct

A model policy for sustainable sourcing.

Resources and Education

Press materials, webinars, blog posts, and research to help educate your company and your customers.    

Labor One Pagers

Short summaries of key studies, tools, and projects working to improve labor conditions in coffee.

Corrective Action

Join the effort in finding solutions for improving labor conditions in coffee.

Sustainable Coffee Challenge

Understanding Labor in Coffee Production


The global coffee supply chain begins on farms across Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico – ending in your cup. 

But coffee is a unique agricultural product, and its journey is complicated by more than just distance.

One cup may contain coffee harvested from several farms, then collected, sorted, graded, co-mingled with coffee from other farms, re-bagged, and blended with other green beans that have gone through a similar process.

And across countries and continents, the conditions under which coffee is grown are just as drastically varied. 

Family farms, handed down through generations and worked by family members, are much different than the large, mechanized enterprises dependent on a paid labor force. From individual farmers to commercial subsidies, coffee farms range in size from barely an acre to nearly a million trees. 

Similar to how every coffee lover has their individual preference, understanding production at origin is extremely specific. 

The coffee industry is committed to working in partnership with governments and NGOs around the world to source coffee responsibly – and partnerships are essential. 

According to the ILO and Walk Free Foundation, forced labor in agriculture (forestries and fisheries) represents a relatively small part (11-12%) of the overall occurrence of abusive labor practices, of which coffee is a small fraction. 

Labor conditions for coffee workers are not just a reflection of an individual farm or the company buying coffee, but the place in which the coffee is grown. In many instances, a lack of effective government, corruption, social upheaval, and broken infrastructure can contribute to poor working conditions. 

Coffee's Commitment

As part of our commitment, the NCA has teamed up with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, an initiative facilitated by Conservation International that is dedicated to making coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. 

In collaboration with experts from the Challenge and other labor-rights-focused organizations, we've curated key resources for understanding and addressing problems that may exist with labor conditions.

The NCA has also developed member-exclusive content and FAQs.


NCA Member Exclusive Resources


5 Reasons to Attend the NCA Convention

Here are 5 (of the many) great reasons to attend the NCA 2020 Convention:

1. Networking that's worth your time

One conversation with the right person can change everything.

We've designed our programming for 2020 to ensure that you'll have maximum opportunities to connect with the people you want to meet -- including a networking lunch for everyone, coffee breaks, and nightly social events like our industry happy hour and "Welcome to Texas" kickoff party.

2. Education for the real world

Coffee is complicated -- from market price fluctuation to understanding the latest food science and coffee trends. And, like most things, the best way to learn is to dive in headfirst. This year we've packed our program with dozens of speakers, panels, and educational breakout sessions to help you gain the knowledge and insights that are most relevant to you.

3. Professional development

Developing strong industry leadership is critical for the future of coffee.

Whether you're looking to grow your own career or develop talent within your organization, our Convention provides opportunities to strengthen leadership skills and learn more about the business of coffee - from the Next Generation Council to events where you could meet your next business partner.

4. Industry innovation

Ideas are like coffee - fresh is better.

Find new inspiration to bring back to the office, whether it's from a keynote speaker or exhibitor. Maybe you'll discover the next big thing in coffee - or come up with your own.

5. Get involved

Tap into the (well-caffeinated) energy of the NCA coffee community! Convention offers many opportunities to give back to the industry or local community, make new connections, and discover new ways to collaborate.

Consider signing up for the local Coffee Gives Back day of service, contributing a blog post on your experience, or join the conversation at a breakout session.


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