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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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How ethical and sustainable is Nescafé?

Nescafé is a brand of coffee owned by Nestlé. The brand scored very poorly in The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Coffee Ratings Table. Despite ranking below our standard to be recognised as an ethical brand, there is still hope that this brand will make the necessary changes and reach the ethical benchmark in the future.

If Nescafé proposed they should be awarded Ethical Accreditation, we would have increased confidence in the brand’s wish to improve. By doing this Nescafé would be allowing The Good Shopping Guide to make further, more detailed assessments and recommendations to improve the ethical standpoint of the company.

For more information regarding the ethical issues of this company please visit the Ethical Coffee report by The Good Shopping Guide and see how additional brands score in our Ethical Coffee Ratings Table.

What is Nescafé and what does it do?

Nescafé started in 1929 when Brazil made a specific request to Nestlé Chairman of the Board of Directors Louis Dapples. It was suggested that Nestlé create a coffee product that was simple to prepare while also minimising the amount of unneeded waste from coffee bean harvests in order to offset the nation’s large coffee oversupply. The original idea was to develop a cube-shaped coffee tablet that could be brewed instantly using only hot water.

However, after extensive research, it was determined that the initial tablet form was not sustainable because the trademark flavour could not be preserved.

Chemist Max Morgenthaler returned to the route of discovery after ruling this option out. This soluble coffee was introduced under the Nescafé brand in Switzerland after seven years of rigorous development. The annual reserves of the new product were completely sold out in less than two months, proving its popularity right away. Nescafé was available in more than 30 nations by 1940, covering every continent.

Where does Nescafé score well as a brand ethically?

The brand received a top rating in assessment areas such as Organic Products, Environmental Reports, and not supporting or profiting from Nuclear power or Armaments.

How can Nescafé improve its ethical rating?

The Good Shopping Guide used a plethora of criteria to determine if a brand is considered ethical and suitable for Ethical Accreditation. Nescafé’s scores in each of its assessed areas are calculated based on these criteria. In order to meet the requirements for Ethical Accreditation, Nescafé has many issues to solve including its bottom rating for our Fairtrade criteria. Nescafé has no Fairtrade products, a bottom rating for Animal Welfare, and a bottom rating for Genetic Modification. Nestlé has been strongly criticised for carrying out animal experiments, both directly and indirectly, to test its animal food products. L’Oreal (in which Nestlé is a major shareholder) is also accused of testing its cosmetic products on animals. The company is listed on PETA’s list of ‘Companies That Do Test on Animals’. (See more information about L’Oreal and its poor ethical performance on our Ethical Make Up Ratings Table.

Does your coffee brand have a certification proving its attention to ethics and sustainability? If not, please complete our initial evaluation form to find out if your brand is eligible for The Good Shopping Guide’s coveted Ethical Accreditation.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Genetic Modification


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Political Donations


  • Fairtrade



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Public Record Criticisms


  • Public Record Criticisms+


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