Starbucks Caffé Latte Iced Coffee

overall rating:



Sofia Nicholson
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As one of my daily purchases, I was very curious as to how sustainable this product was. As a company, Starbucks has a very transparent approach to business, they have so much information readily available on their website which is a nice surprise after witnessing the lack of transparency in other companies. However, this over-flow of information can also be a sign of greenwashing and hiding the real facts. After reviewing each section I have given this an overall score of 0.4 planets which is significantly less than I was expecting for a company as big and in the spotlight as Starbucks.

What it's made of:


The coffee and sugar which it contains is in compliance with Fairtrade standards. It contains full fat milk which is provided to Starbucks in the UK by Arla Foods. This provider in the UK is leading the way with Starbucks by creating a pilot scheme to create an industry-leading sustainable sourcing blueprint to support other Starbucks dairy suppliers across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). They are supporting Starbucks ongoing commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% globally. However, I believe this is still not enough and the targets they are setting for themselves are not high enough for a company with as much scope and influence globally. Another ingredient included in this coffee is chicory inulin. I had honestly never heard about it but decided to dig in to find the source of the one used in Starbucks coffee and there was close to no information, only reports showing the positive health and flavour benefits of having chicory in the coffee. The emulsifiers are from vegetable origin but what would be great is if Starbucks provided more information about the company they supply it from, which is one of the few things they don’t provide information on. Additionally, the packaging for this product is definitely not sustainable: the only part which could be somewhat sustainable is the paper straw which shows a small action that helps but is not enough if the rest of the packaging is made from non-recyclable materials. However, I was unable to find information on the packaging and the materials it is made from. Therefore, I am giving them 0.2 planets for this section which they only earn because they show some effort to go in the direction of change for the better.

How it's made:


The product is made at Arla Foods' production plant in Denmark. They are a multinational corporation which prides itself on continuously becoming more sustainable throughout their supply chain. Since 2015, they’ve reduced their plastic content in milk bottles by 25% which in turn has saved 12,000 tonnes of plastic. However, having global operations of the scope Arla Foods has, this is not very impressive when looking at the bigger picture. They have also assessed the environmental impacts from its entire value chain based on the Environmental Profit and Loss methodology (Natural Capital Accounting). They have therefore shown some commitment to solve the sustainability challenges which face the dairy sector. In my opinion, dairy is something that is and will continue to be a very important part of people’s diets around the world. It is therefore critical for companies with the global reach that Arla Foods has to be leading on this change. However, they don’t provide detailed information about the actual process of production for this product. I will therefore give them 0.5 planets due to them moving in the right direction to become sustainable, however with a supply chain as large as theirs, progress will be slower and therefore huge room for improvement on their sustainability.

Who makes it:


The coffee within this product is 99% ethically sourced, however they don’t provide any information as to what this 1% missing is from. They have a green coffee sourcing standard called CAFE (Coffee and Farm Equity) Practices program which they claim to help sustain and strengthen coffee communities through social, environmental and economic guidelines. After digging in to find where that missing 1% comes from, I was able to find reports and news articles about children as young as 8 years old working on the farms that supply Starbucks. They deny any claims of this occurring, however there are further claims about slave labor on plantations where starbucks buys coffee by Brazilian labor inspectors. The fact that they are the world’s biggest coffee shop chain is not great in the face of their lack of commitment to the goals they very clearly set out on their own website. Their website is the definition of greenwashing, by overloading people with an excessive amount of information which is vague at its best; very disappointing from the company that leads in the coffeehouse industry. They are also FairTrade certified but honestly, hard to know how reliable this certification is following all the debates around it recently.