From bean to cup and beyond: exploring ethical consumption and coffee shops

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    The UK has developed a strong coffee shop culture, with a growing demand for coffee, increased consumption, and waste produced as a result. Discussions of ethical consumption of coffee have often focused on both the coffee supply chains and coffee consumption in general, rather than considering the coffee shop as the point where ethical choices can be made. This paper illuminates some of the complexities consumers face around ethical consumption in coffee shops. This is done by applying three lenses which help appreciate the choices consumers make: the business model of the coffee shops they choose (chains or independents); the ethical qualities of the actual coffee consumed; and the waste produced in the form of coffee cups and coffee grounds. The results demonstrate that consumers must navigate a plethora of unknowns when faced with each of these choices. These unknowns hinder ethical decision-making, suggesting that responsibility for addressing the various ethical issues facing the industry cannot be left to consumers alone. This indicates a need for joined up approaches to ethical consumption in the coffee industry, in which the various stakeholder groups focus on what can be done in the space of the coffee shop.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)34 - 47
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Consumer Ethics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 international License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


    • Coffee
    • Coffee shops
    • Consumption
    • Waste
    • Recycling
    • Reusing


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