The production of certified coffee has increased significantly in recent years. However, most stringent standards are least often chosen by farmers. We ran a choice experiment among 250 Brazilian coffee farmers in the state of Minas Gerais to investigate the barriers that affect participation in certification schemes that require improved agricultural practices. Our results suggest that non-cash payments such as long-term selling contracts or the provision of technical assistance to comply with the environmental requirements are likely to motivate farmers to participate in certification schemes. Farmers’ preferences for these non-cash rewards, however, appear highly heterogeneous. Results moreover show that the minimum willingness-to-accept for compost adoption is twice as high as the average price premium for certified coffee in the current context, which may partly explain why most coffee farmers continue to be reluctant to enter the most stringent certification schemes such as the Organic standard.