Mainstreaming Sustainable Coffee

Sustainable Development, Forthcoming

19 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2010

See all articles by Ans Kolk

Ans Kolk

University of Amsterdam Business School

Date Written: November 23, 2010


This overview article examines the various dimensions of sustainable coffee as well as the actors involved and their perceptions on how to advance the market from niche to mainstream. The issues at hand are very complex, with different types of coffee producers, manufacturing/roasting companies and consumers, and a variety of standards, all with their own peculiarities and views on what is the best approach, and characterised by a divergent potential for ‘scaling up’. Policy-makers, managers and NGOs thus face difficult choices as to which path to pursue as there is no clear consensus on a concrete ‘solution’ to this ‘wicked problem’. The article analyses the market for sustainable coffee, the different types of certified coffee available and their peculiarities considering production and supply perspectives, in relation to consumers who buy the final product. Implications are discussed as well, in the context of complexity and confusion, and the need for more complementarity.

Keywords: Coffee, certification, fair trade, supply chain, corporate social responsibility, multinationals, consumers, sustainability, standards

JEL Classification: F23, G38, H77, L2, L66, M1, M14, M31, N50, O13, O20, Q13, Q17, Q18

Suggested Citation

Kolk, Ans, Mainstreaming Sustainable Coffee (November 23, 2010). Sustainable Development, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Ans Kolk (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Plantage Muidergracht 12
Amsterdam, 1018 TV
+31 20 525 4289 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5281 (Fax)


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