Certified Organic: This is coffee certified by a third-party agency and grown without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Certified-organic coffees generally garner a price premium of up to 40 percent over their conventionally grown counterparts.

Fair Trade: Fair-trade certification addresses the social issues surrounding coffee production, ensuring farmers a livable wage. Regardless of market price fluctuations, fair-trade coffees receive a minimum of $1.41 per pound, which can be three times as much as non-fair-trade-certified coffee garners. The goal is to pay farmers a price that allows them to continue cultivating coffee, even when the market is depressed.

Shade Grown: This describes coffee plants that are grown under a canopy of shade trees, which protect them from intense sun exposure. By preventing deforestation and providing a natural habitat for native birds and animals, shade-grown coffee helps preserve the delicate ecosystems in coffee-producing countries.

Relationship Coffee: Relationship coffee directly connects farmers to the marketplace. Most coffee farmers must sell their beans to bargain-hunting intermediaries. By cultivating a relationship between farmers and buyers in the relationship-coffee model, buyers promise to honor fair contracts, while farmers commit to growing coffees that live up to agreed-upon quality standards. Another important component of relationship coffee is the willingness of a roaster to print the name of the grower group or farm on packages of the roasted coffee.

—K.F.