Is Starbucks ethical?

Starbucks is known worldwide for its coffee. It’s an American multinational company that has become a brand now. As of 2021, Starbucks is located at more than 33,295 places with a total of 349,000 employees working with them. They are famous for their coffee but other than that Smoothies, Tea, Baked goods, and sandwiches are also their specialty. Let us see about is starbucks ethical.

is Starbucks ethical

Yes, Starbucks is indeed an ethical company. Ethisphere institute itself has named Starbucks as the World’s most ethical company, every year since 2007. Starbucks makes sustainable coffee all around the world while safeguarding the welfare of their coffee farmers and all other suppliers, which helps them be on the top. Starbucks uses the C.A.F.E approach to do its ethical sourcing. C.A.F.E means Coffee and farmer equity. 

Factors that determine whether Starbucks is ethical or not 

Many factors help us determine whether Starbucks is ethically sourced or not. Some of them are mentioned below. 

  1. Supporting the farmers: As we all know farmers work so hard to produce ravishing coffee beans for us and coffee is the main component of Starbucks so, supporting their farmers is not only their duty but also a moral ethic which they claim to fulfill by investing in the holistic growth of farmers.
  2. Growing sustainable coffee: This means that coffee should be grown in such a way that causes no harm either to the environment or the farmers. Sustainable agricultural practices must be adopted, and proper working conditions and fair pay should be given to the producers of the coffee. Everyone including, the environment should be treated with justice. 
  3. Sourcing of Tea: Tea sourcing means using 100% natural tea for making and selling one at Starbucks. Starbucks states that they do not produce tea on their own and support the tea farmers by buying tea from them. Top-quality tea is produced, by very experienced farmers. Everything is natural, clean, and ethical.
  4. Cocoa sourcing: Cocoa sourcing is nothing but using high-quality beans for making some delicious beverages like Caffe Mochas and Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks. Inspection of these cocoa beans is done, by a third party that determines whether they are 100% natural or not. 

Some ethical controversies at Starbucks

Though Starbucks claims to be ethical, there have been some controversies in the past that claims otherwise. 

  • The environment report of Starbucks gets the worst ethical consumer rating, and they seem to ignore the topic when asked questions about it in 2018. Use of agrochemicals and their harmful impacts, emission of greenhouse gas, and reducing environmental footprint. No explanation was given, on these topics. 
  • The policy of animal rights was also broken by Starbucks as once they were caught up selling factory-farmed animal products which are made using genetically modified animal feed. The Nonveg portion of the Starbucks menu was investigated and it was found out that products are not organically certified.
  • The process of verifying whether a company is ethical or not has a category called Consumers Politics and Starbucks again did not score well under category also. Starbucks was accused of not paying tax and was also claimed to be involved in conspiracies to avoid tax. 

These were some of the key highlights of the controversies that Starbucks was a part of. Now it is difficult to know whether Starbucks is ethical or not because it has a fair share of both good and bad deeds. 


Starbucks is a very famous brand popularly known for its coffee and other beverages. We found out that Starbucks claims to be 99% ethical but was involved in some unethical controversies, and other than this, some of the major factors that help us determine whether Starbucks is Ethical or not were also discussed briefly. Starbucks uses the C.A.F.E approach to carry out its ethical souring. And strangely enough, this approach makes Starbucks a 99% Ethical company. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the major drawback of Starbucks?

Even though Starbucks is the world’s largest coffeehouse company, it has some drawbacks, and one of the major drawbacks of Starbucks is that it is very costly. The high cost of products is one of the reasons why people with average income cannot afford Starbucks. 

  1. Is Starbucks addictive?

Yes, Starbucks is addictive as it sells caffeine which is quite addictive. Starbucks coffee gives you a dopamine boost and makes you feel like you can do anything twice as fast as before. Once people get addicted to that feeling of dopamine boost, they want it again and again. 

  1. Has Starbucks ever failed as a business in any country?

Yes, Starbucks has failed as a business in Australia because the local coffee culture of Australia is advanced, their pace of expansion was different, and their lack of effort to adapt. These were some of the reasons why Starbucks failed in Australia. 

Is Starbucks ethical?

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