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Ethical brand ratings and accreditation since 2001

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How ethical is Starbucks?

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

We would have extra confidence in Starbucks 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 Starbucks do?

Starbucks is an American multinational chain of coffee shops with its headquarters in Seattle. It is the world’s largest coffee shop chain with stores in 80 countries.

In which areas does Starbucks perform poorly?

Starbucks receives a bottom rating for Animal Welfare, as it has received multiple criticisms for its behaviour in this area, including a ‘very poor’ rating from a report by World Animal Protection, and a low score in the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare rankings.

Starbucks was marked down under our criteria for Organic as it does not have any certification. It receives a middle rating for Fair Trade as despite being listed as Fair Trade, it’s not clear if this is available in all stores, and for GM as it does not have a statement relating to use of GMOs. Find out more about how we rate by exploring our ethical criteria.

Past Criticisms of Starbucks’  record

Starbucks has faced a string of criticisms in recent years relating to unfair wages, poor living and working conditions, and other human rights issues.

In which areas does Starbucks score well for its ethics?

Starbucks gets a top rating for its Environmental Report as it has published a Global Social & Environmental Impact Report 2022 containing targets for carbon emissions, water and waste.

Starbucks scores well for its Reusable Cup Scheme. We found no criticisms relating to Nuclear, Fossil Fuels, or Armaments, so Starbucks scores well for these criteria.

How can Starbucks improve its ethical rating?

The below-benchmark score that Starbucks 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, Starbucks 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 Starbucks 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