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Sustainability must be embraced by all actors in the value chain if the specialty coffee industry is to survive and thrive. This course is designed to offer baseline knowledge of what the term sustainability means and the challenges of acting sustainably across the coffee value chain. It is focused on developing a common vocabulary and understanding of sustainability, with a focus on economics, the environment, social issues, and the connections between them.


At the Foundation level, students will be exposed to sustainability terminology, a brief history of sustainability in coffee, and key sustainability challenges across the value chain. They will begin to understand the trade-offs and complexities of different approaches and current practices, and access some of the tools that exist to address a variety of sustainability challenges.


The course is designed for people at all points in the value chain. Participants will leave the course understanding the complex, but not impossible, challenges related to sustainability issues, and will begin to recognize some ways to best implement solutions. Students will leave the Foundation course prepared for the Intermediate level, where they will learn to take preliminary action and make informed decisions on behalf of themselves, their companies, and/or their organizations.


By successfully completing the Foundation level, students will be able to:

  • Articulate broad sustainability challenges at different points in the value chain

  • Discuss possibilities for sustainability solutions and best practices at various levels of the coffee value chain

  • Explain the trade-offs of different sustainability projects and practices

This course is designed to supplement the SCA diploma program for Coffee Skills.


This course is offered over the course of 4-2 hour session online, and is offered in collaboration The Chain Collaborative. Passing a written test is required for course certificate.


Class hours: 2:00pm -4:00pm daily 

Cost: $350 



Sustainability Foundations

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