Caribou Coffee, the second-largest gourmet coffeehouse operator in the nation, is proud to announce that it is the first major U.S. coffeehouse committing to 100 percent Rainforest Alliance certification for all of its coffees — a goal the company has set to achieve by the end of 2011.

To celebrate the announcement, beginning April 15, guests can purchase two new 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified blends, Lacuna and Lakeshore Blend, at all Caribou Coffee locations nationwide and at “a href=””>

Rainforest Alliance certification, the most comprehensive sustainability certification developed to date, is managed by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) — a coalition of independent, nonprofit conservation groups. The certification is built on three pillars of sustainability — environmental, social, and economic — and works by setting standards to guide growers and farm operations of all sizes to true sustainable agriculture practices.

Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee farms ensure that the environment and wildlife are protected; workers receive decent wages and improved working and living conditions; workers and their families have access to education, medical care, and clean water; and coffee is harvested and processed responsibly. Farms that comply with certification criteria are awarded the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval.

“Caribou Coffee recognizes that a good cup of coffee goes beyond taste — it starts with farming practices that are environmentally and socially responsible,” says Chad Trewick, senior director of coffee and tea for Caribou Coffee. “One hundred percent certification is a very aggressive goal but one that we’re proud to set. We’re helping ensure that our customers get premium coffee and our sourcing partners benefit environmentally, socially, and economically.”

“Caribou Coffee’s tremendous commitment to sourcing 100 percent of their coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms will benefit the lives of thousands of farmers, farm workers, and their families,” says Tensie Whelan, president of the Rainforest Alliance. “It will also help protect waterways and wildlife, conserve fragile ecosystems, and promote soil health. We hope other retailers will see Caribou’s example and follow suit.”

As a part of this commitment, Caribou Coffee will work with its current growers to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification before sourcing new partners, Trewick says. “Our close relationships with our partners at origin lead to mutually beneficial purchasing practices and the highest-quality coffee available, so we are encouraging the farms that we currently buy from to achieve certification. This means that not only are we committed to furthering sustainable coffee production, we’re also committed to preserving the long-standing sourcing relationships that uphold the same flavor profiles of all of our traditional blends.”

The two new coffees, Lacuna and Lakeshore Blend, will join the five Caribou Coffee blends that are already 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified — Colombia Timaná, Guatemala El Paraíso, Sumatra Samosir Batak, La Minita Peaberry, and Costa Rica Sombra del Poro. Currently, almost all of Caribou Coffee’s blends are at least 30 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified and more than 85 percent of the company’s overall coffee purchases in 2010 will be Rainforest Alliance Certified, totaling around 17 million pounds.

Lacuna is a dark, bold coffee blend featuring coffees from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Ethiopia. It is a deliciously dark, robust coffee with alluring deep cherry and cocoa notes combined with the oakiness of fine bourbon.

Lakeshore Blend is a medium roast blend of coffees from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia. It is smooth and fresh with delicate citrus notes and a silky body.

In honor of Earth Day, Caribou Coffee will be giving a free reusable coffee clutch to every guest who purchases two pounds of Lacuna or Lakeshore Blend starting April 15, while supplies last.

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