GCP Equivalence Mechanism

Ensuring schemes meet the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code

The GCP Equivalence Mechanism is an innovative building block to support continual increases in the purchase of coffee produced following baseline principles and practices of sustainability.

The GCP Equivalence Mechanism is a framework developed by GCP to assess whether a scheme can be considered equivalent to the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code, a sector-wide reference on the foundations of sustainability in economic, social and environmental dimensions for green coffee production and primary processing worldwide. GCP’s Equivalence Process evaluates whether a sustainability scheme meets both the Code and a set of operational criteria (including governance, standard-setting, assurance, data and claims requirements). This helps to ensure that recognized sustainability schemes have a credible and effective system for implementation. Aligning efforts and using a common language allows the coffee sector to better understand sustainability and identify which schemes meet at least baseline practices of sustainability in a credible and effective manner.

For the assessment of the sustainability schemes, GCP partnered with the International Trade Centre, which, as GCP implementation partner, assessed the schemes against the principles and practices of the Coffee SR Code and the Operational Criteria of the EM 2.0 ensuring the integrity of the recognition process. Following successful assessment and GCP recognition, sustainability schemes are eligible for roasters and retailers to be included in  the annual GCP Collective Reporting on Sustainable Coffee Purchases, another way companies are aligning to advance coffee sustainability globally.

The Equivalence Mechanism, together with the Coffee SR Code and the GCP Collective Reporting on Sustainable Coffee Purchases are connected assets developed by GCP to offer a common language on the foundations for coffee sustainability and promote the supply and demand of coffee produced following at least baseline sustainability principles.

Until this revision, GCP had assessed the different sustainability schemes against the principles and criteria in the GCP Baseline Coffee Code (predecessor to the Coffee Sustainability Reference Code) and the operating practices that schemes should have in place to  be  considered credible and effective for their recognition under the Equivalence Mechanism 1.1 or 1.2.

Depending on their assurance model they are classified as GCP Baseline Coffee Code equivalent 2nd Party or 3rd Party.

In total, five schemes have been recognized as equivalent – 3rd party assurance and 13 schemes as equivalent – 2nd party assurance (see table below). They are all eligible to be included in the upcoming GCP Collective Reporting on Sustainable Coffee Purchases.

All schemes that have been recognized as equivalent to the Baseline Coffee Code will need to submit their scheme for reassessment under the EM 2.0 and go through the GCP Equivalence Process by October 2023.

Applications are now open for additional schemes interested in being assessed.

List of schemes recognized by GCP

Equivalent 3rd Party to the
Baseline Coffee Code


Certifica Minas



Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices

Equivalent 2nd Party to the
Baseline Coffee Code

ECOM’ SMS Verified

Enveritas ‘ Enveritas Gold and Enveritas Green

Exportadora de Café Guaxupé’s Guaxupé Planet

Nespresso AAA

Neumann’s NKG BLOOM

ofi’s AtSource Entry Verified and AtSource Plus

Equivalent 2nd Party to the
Coffee SR Code

Louis Dreyfus Company’s Responsible Sourcing Program Advanced

Mercon’s LIFT

Neumann Kaffee Gruppe’s NKG Verified

Volcafe’s Volcafe Verified, and Volcafe Excellence

What does it mean to be Equivalent 2nd or 3rd Party? 

2nd Party assurance is often referred to as verification and 3rd party assurance is often referred to as certification. The main difference between these two levels of assurance is that 3rd Party assurance includes the oversight of an external body in all assurance activities of the organization that owns the scheme, this includes but goes beyond third-party audits at farm level.   

The EM at a glance


Governance Criteria


Standard-setting Criteria


Assurance Criteria


Data Criteria


Claims Criteria

The Equivalence Mechanism in your language.

Bahasa Indonesia


G1 Sustainability Outcomes
G2 Transparency
G3 Complaints and Appeals


SS1 Transparency: Sustainability Criteria
SS2 Transparency: Standard Setting
SS3 Stakeholder Engagement
SS4 Consistent Interpretation


A1 Fit forpurpose
A2 Assessment Methodology
A3 Continuous Improvement
A4 Remediation
A5 Group Assessment
A6 Assurance Providers/Evaluators’ Performance
A7 Exceptions
A8 Impartiality and Conflictsof Interest
A9 Chain of Custody
A10 Traceability


D1 Data management
D2 Transparency: Performance Insights
D3 Data Quality
D4 Data Governance
D5 Performance Reporting
D6 M&ESystem


C1 Defined Rules for Claims
C2 Monitoring
C3 Substantiation of Claims
C4 AssuredClaims

catch up

Catch up on the launch webinar where industry voices discussed the Equivalence Mechanism revision, its broad consultation and its potential application to drive coffee sustainability.

Follow the conversation between:

  • Aimee Russillo (Partner, Liseed Consulting)
  • Flavia Barbosa (Exportadora Guaxupé)
  • Gelkha Buitrago (GCP Director of Programs and Corporate Partnerships)
  • John Schulter (Chair GCP Technical Committee)
  • Marcelo Burity (Nestlé)
  • Mathieu Lamolle (International Trade Centre)
  • Olivier Laboulle (LDC)

Archive: GCP Equivalence Mechanism 1.2

If you are interested in older versions of the mechanism, you can access them here: GCP Equivalence Mechanism 1.2


For more information regarding the Equivalence Mechanism, please contact:  

Gelkha Buitrago

Director Programs and Corporate Partnershipsemail me

Related content