Requirements for Exporting Coffee to the European Union (EU) [Latest Update]

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter

Requirements for exporting coffee to the European Union – In Vietnam, The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) officially took effect in August 2020.

Thereby, increasing opportunities for Vietnam to export coffee to the EU market thanks to commitments related to cutting tariffs and other trade barriers in the EVFTA, especially for coffee products that have already been imported through deep processing.

However, there are still many challenges for Vietnamese coffee beans regarding technical standards and rules of origin.

The world of coffee in Latin America has altered dramatically in the three centuries since its humble beginnings. On the one hand, this strongly flavored black liquid has evolved from a regional drink to a worldwide infusion.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, on the other hand, has become an exporting power of this beverage’s raw coffee beans material: according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), LAC is the world’s main coffee bean producing region, with a total production of approximately 67 million bags per year, or 57% of the total.

Overview of Importing Coffee into the European Union Market Trade

The first coffee plants were transported to America by Dutch immigrants who wanted to produce them in what is now Suriname.

According to the website Proexport Colombia, “the French chose to send a coffee plant to their colonies in America (Martinique and French Guyana) with French Captain Gabriel De Clieu, who endured innumerable adventures to enable the plant to reach alive its destination.”

This single plant was the foundation of Latin America’s vast coffee plantations.”

Europe Countries Are The Largest Coffee Import Market In The World

Although Latin America consumes a significant amount of coffee, the majority of output is only accessible for coffee exporters.

According to the International Trade Center’s Coffee Guide, the United States consumes the most coffee, accounting for 23% of the market, followed by Germany at 10%.

The European Union accounts for 44% of worldwide coffee consumption, making it the world’s largest market.

However, the European Union (EU), which has uniform standards for importing this product, is the world’s most significant market for coffee (and once it enters it can circulate freely among the different countries of the Union).

Aside from Germany’s 10% total consumption, the other EU nations consume a substantial quantity of coffee: France and Italy, for example, both account for 6% of the global market. In all, total EU consumption accounts for 44% of the worldwide coffee market.

According to the International Coffee Association, each European person consumes 4.67 kilograms of coffee per year on average.

Europe imports 46.2 million bags of green coffee, 0.7 million bags of roasted coffee, and 2 million bags of soluble coffee every year to meet this need.

General  International Commitments to coffee export tariffs to the EU market

Previously, the EU’s basic tax rate for Vietnamese coffee beans was in the range of 7.5%-11.5%. According to the commitment of EVFTA, 100% of tax lines for coffee have been eliminated immediately after the Agreement comes into effect.

Implementing the EVFTA commitment, not only products such as green coffee or coffee pods but also processed coffee will be immediately reduced to 0% tax.

Requirements for exporting to the European Union The rules governing the import of food goods in general, and coffee in particular, from the 28 EU member nations are generally harmonized.

As a result, the manufacturer who wants his coffee beans to reach the usual Parisian cafés may also have his product sold in Rome, Frankfurt, or Barcelona without delay.

General Rules for exporting coffee to the European Union for all growing coffee countries – Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam…

So, what are the common regulations that coffee growers must follow in order to reach the European market?

First and foremost, the product must comply with particular EU sanitary and safety criteria, which prevent the sale of food that is harmful to health or unfit for human consumption.

The EU has severe sanitary laws that must be followed at all phases, from manufacture to consumption. The EU has many regulatory capabilities as well, and vendors must be able to identify each member of the supply chain.

Second, coffee marketed in the European Union must adhere to strict labeling regulations. To put it another way, the sales package must have the following information:

The brand name under which the product is sold. “Unless particular EU or national restrictions apply, the name should be a conventional name or a description,” the EU states. In addition to the generic name, a trademark, brand name, or fancy name may be employed.”

  • Unless the name of the product and the name of the ingredient are similar, a list of ingredients, including additives. Any chemicals that might
  • Cause allergic responses should be carefully labeled.
  • Pre-packaged food product net amount
  • Expiration date
  • Name or business name and address of the EU-based manufacturer, packager, or seller
  • Place of origin or provenance, when omission might lead to customer confusion.
  • Special storage or use conditions
  • Lot identification.

Finally, there are precise standards that govern the labeling of various varieties of coffee (coffee extract, soluble coffee, instant coffee, decaffeinated coffee, etc.)

Common Requirements for Exporting Coffee to the European Union

For example, according to the EU website, “the term “concentrated” may only appear on the label if the coffee-based dry-matter content is greater than 25% by weight.”

If the anhydrous caffeine level does not exceed 0.3% by weight of the coffee-based dry matter, the label “decaffeinated” must appear. This information must be shown in the same area as the sales description.”

Specific Export Requirements to the European Union for coffee Beans

When it comes to food products such as coffee, the main focus in European Union legislation is food safety and food hygiene.

Regulations on food safety and hygiene

Businesses need to identify the risks in their supply chain, figure out how to prevent or reduce and monitor these risks, and what to do if something goes wrong.

The development of a Critical Control Point ( HACCP ) Hazard Analysis plan can be done in collaboration with consultants who specialize in implementing food management principles.

Another strategy to ensure food safety as a producer is to follow good agricultural practices. Key standards in this area are provided by GLOBALGAP.

Products from countries that have repeatedly failed to comply are included in the Annex to the European Commission’s (EU) Implementation Regulation 2019/1793.

Regulations on plant quarantine for coffee products

General requirements:
  • Goods must have a phytosanitary certificate issued by the competent authority of the exporting country.
  • Goods must go through customs and quarantine procedures at the first EU border gate of arrival.
  • Goods must be imported by an officially registered importer in an EU member state.
  • Goods must be notified in advance to the customs authority at the first EU port of arrival.

Buyer Quality Standards

International Trade Center states that grading is generally based on the following criteria for green coffee beans:

  • Elevation and/or area;
  • Diverse flora;
  • Processing of coffee;
  • Coffee bean size;
  • Number of defective beans;
  • Roast appearance and cup quality of coffee beans (taste, character, cleanliness);
  • The density of coffee beans.

The specialty coffee is classified according to its taste profile. Aroma, taste, aftertaste, balance, acidity, sweetness, uniformity, and cleanliness are important factors in the grading process. This process is based on experimental protocols.

The overall rating provides a summary rating based on a scale of 50 to 100; The higher the score, the better the quality

Regulations on the packaging, labeling, certificates of origin, and some related certificates

Regulations on certification of origin and some related certificates:

Coffee products traded on the market must ensure PDO-Protected Designation of Origin regulations. In international commercial transactions, a Certificate of Origin (C/O) is increasingly used.

  • Currently, businesses exporting goods including coffee to Europe (EU) are allowed to self-certify origin for shipments worth less than 6,000 EUR, with no need to make a paper C/O. The condition is that the exporter must register the code REX.
  • In case goods including Coffee exported to the EU are valued at more than 6,000 EUR, enterprises are required to apply for a Certificate of “CO form EUR.1”.

In addition to regulations on origin, coffee businesses need to pay attention to regulations on geographical indications and food labeling.

General requirements for packaging and labeling

The label of green coffee beans must be written in English and must include the following information:

  • Product name; 
  • International Coffee Organization (ICO) identification code; 
  • Country of origin; 
  • Classify; 
  • Net weight in kg; 
  • For certified coffee: name/code of inspection body and certification number.

Niche Market Requirements For Coffee Bean

Biodiversity and organic certification programs

To market coffee as ‘organic‘ coffee on the European market, it must comply with EU law (2018/848) on organic production and labeling.

To export organic coffee, Enterprises must be issued Certificates of Inspection (COIs) from the control agency before the shipment departs (Article 13 (2) EU 2020/25).


Fairtrade International (FLO) is a leading standards-setting and certifying organization for fair trade. Products bearing the Fairtrade label indicate that the manufacturers have been audited by FLOCERT (the accredited certifier for Fairtrade).

Specialty coffee – Vietnam Specialty coffee

The premium specialty coffee segment is characterized by very high tasting scores (around 87 or more), innovative processes (such as natural processing and honey), direct commercial relationships, high transparency, and traceability from source to consumer.


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For more information, please contact at:
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Helena Coffee Vietnam

Helena Coffee Processing & Export in Vietnam | Helena., JSC, which was established in 2016, is a Vietnamese coffee exporter, manufacturer & supplier. We provide the most prevalent varieties of coffee grown in Vietnam’s renowned producing regions.

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