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Costa Coffee

How ethical is Costa Coffee?

Costa Coffee is a coffee shop chain which has a below-benchmark score on The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Coffee Shops Ratings Table. Although Costa Coffee has not yet met our ethical benchmark, we hope to see the brand make progress in the future.

We would have extra confidence in Costa Coffee if it submitted itself to apply for Ethical Accreditation, whereby The Good Shopping Guide would make further detailed assessment and recommendations for ethical improvement. Find out more about the ethical issues facing the Ethical Coffee Shops sector.

What does Costa Coffee do?

Costa Coffee is a British chain of coffee shops with headquarters in Buckinghamshire. It was founded in 1971 by Sergio Costa to supply roasted coffee to caterers and specialist Italian coffee shops. In 2019 the brand was acquired by The Coca-Cola Company for $4.9 billion and now has over 9000 outlets worldwide.

In which areas does Costa Coffee perform poorly?

Costa Coffee receives a bottom rating for its lack of Organic or Fair Trade certification. It also scores poorly for Animal Welfare due to evidence of poor animal welfare standards at farms which supply the chain. It also gets a bottom score for GM, as Coca-Cola’s website does not rule out the use of GMOs across all of its brands.

Coca-Cola Company donated over $4.5m in recent election cycles so Costa Coffee gets a bottom rating for Political Donations. Find out more about how we rate by exploring our ethical criteria.

Past Criticisms of Costa Coffee’s record

Costa Coffee’s parent company, Coca-Cola, has faced multiple criticisms relating to poor wages and living and working conditions, unfair price increases and price fixing, and its CEO came in at number 13 in As You Sow’s report on ‘The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs’.

In which areas does Costa Coffee score well for its ethics?

Costa Coffee does have a Reusable Cup Scheme so gets a top rating for this criterion. It also scores well for its Environmental Report as parent company Coca-Cola Co. has a 2022 Business & Sustainability Report which contains numerous targets.

We found no criticisms relating to Nuclear, Fossil Fuels, or Armaments, so Costa Coffee scores well for these criteria.

How can Costa Coffee improve its ethical rating?

The below-benchmark score that Costa Coffee is awarded with on The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Coffee Shops Ratings Table is the result of an evaluation of multiple ethical criteria.

To reach our minimum ethical benchmark and qualify for Ethical Accreditation, Costa Coffee has some issues to resolve, including its poor Animal Welfare record. If it applies for Ethical Accreditation, The Good Shopping Guide will be able to give Costa Coffee some guidance to improve on these areas.

Were you aware that your brand could benefit from Ethical Accreditation? Brands accredited by The Good Shopping Guide can display our Ethical Mark, showcasing to consumers that it is an ethical and sustainable brand. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us or complete a Free Initial Assessment form.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Genetic Modification


  • Organic


  • Reusable Cup Scheme


  • Nuclear Power


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Political Donations


  • Fairtrade



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Public Record Criticisms


  • Public Record Criticisms+


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating