Read up on all the different coffee certifications, such as Rainforest Alliance & Fair Trade Certified.
Certified Organic: For coffee to be Certified Organic that means it is grown according to the methods and standards set by the USDA. That means no chemicals (or very little) on their crops and farming methods that are not harmful to the environment. Farms also must for through a certification process in order to have the seal of organic. It is even widely known that organic coffee produces a higher quality bean. Therefore, you are getting the best coffee out there if you shop Certified Organic.
Rainforest Alliance Certified: To be Rainforest Alliance Certified farms must meet the criteria set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network. This criteria allows protection to biodiversity, delivers financial benefits and decent working and living conditions to farmers and workers. Helps coffee farmers improve their day to day lives and their communities.
Fair Trade Certified: When you drink your delicious cup of fair trade coffee in the morning, you are helping farmers escape poverty. Small-scale farmers that live in remote areas are vulnerable to people who offer cash for their coffee at a fraction of what it is worth. Fair Trade makes sure that farmers are guaranteed a minimum price, and even links farmers directly with importers. This allows farmers to create long-term sustainability benefiting everyone involved. Farmers, through Fair Trade, earn better incomes which allows them to hold on to their land and invest in the quality of the coffee you drink. In the end this is great for you and the environment.
Third Wave Coffee: Third Wave coffee is a movement that is aimed to produce high-quality coffee, and to consider coffee as an artisanal food. That means all stages of production, coffee plant growing, processing, stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters are improved. As a result of this, third wave coffee wants the highest form of culinary appreciation of coffee. You should enjoy coffee like you would a wine or craft beer. The idea of the movement is to learn and pay more attention to your coffee.
Specialty Coffee: Specialty coffee has to be graded by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) The SCAA grades the coffee on certain criteria and if it scores between 80-100 points it is deemed "specialty". This coffees are special because they grow in ideal microclimates and have a unique flavors with a full cup taste. Specialty coffees also rarely have any defects. This is all possible because of the rich soils where they are grown.