It’s no secret that we’re huge coffee lovers. But from non-recyclable packaging to beans that can’t be traced, we’re always concerned about how ethical our morning cuppa really is. Luckily, there are some amazing companies out there that are going to great lengths to ensure we can all enjoy a really good cup of Joe without compromising on values or taste. Here are our favourite sustainable and ethical coffee brands in the UK.
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Your guide to eco-friendly and fair trade coffee in the UK
Enjoy a kinder brew with these ethical brands
We love brands by women, in support of women – and that’s exactly what Land Girls is all about. As the name suggests, the coffee company was set up by Founder Emma Brown in an effort to support other women in farming around the world. Emma runs a smallholding in Rutland, so understands the challenges of being a female farmer in a male-dominated industry. With the launch of Land Girls’ first Fairtrade coffee beans, she’s on a mission to help female farmers to support their families and local communities.
Sourcing Fairtrade beans from small farms around the world, Land Girls currently stocks coffee from a close-knit community in northern Peru as well as Sumatran beans grown by the women of Koperasi Ketiara, a cooperative of Indonesian farmers. We particularly love the Sumatran brew, which is dark and robust, making for a wonderfully earthy and rich brew.
Ensuring a fully sustainable journey from farm to cup, Chimney Fire Coffee takes its environmental responsibility seriously. The brand focuses on transparent sourcing, working closely with farmers and sharing their stories. Sourcing from six different origins, including Guatemala, Ethiopia and Colombia, the brand always takes care to create a direct relationship with producers, regularly visit farms, source fresh crops from the same group of producers to ensure long-term business, and pay twice the Fairtrade price for coffee to support investment in farming communities.
Efforts don’t stop there, though. Chimney Fire Coffee is packaged in oxo-biodegradable containers, and all coffee waste is delivered to local stores for the public to use as animal bedding and garden fertiliser! Try the Guatemala San Antonio, which is beautifully smooth and fruity with hints of cherry and cocoa.
This brand, which essentially translates to ‘Let’s go’ in Arabic, was inspired by the owners’ travels around Morocco. The single origin coffee is packed with character and flavour, but it’s also traceable: the beans are sourced from the most sustainable farms that the Yallah team can find, then carefully roasted to let the natural flavours shine through.
But the brand’s ethics don’t stop there: Yallah works directly with its producers, and carefully selects coffee farmers that invest in quality, sustainable business methods, while paying growers fair prices.
On home soil, the company’s Cornwall-based workshop is powered by solar panels, and the waste produced from roasting the coffee is used to fuel the biomass for the boiler. The coffee is packaged in omni-degradable packaging, and shipped via a carbon-neutral courier service. In a nutshell, this is seriously good coffee that’s kind to people and the planet – and we can’t get enough of it.
Striving to protect vital rainforests while supporting the people who call these forests home, Easy Jose has partnered with remote indigenous communities to help them grow speciality coffee that gives back. For several years, the brand has worked with the Peruvian Mayni tribe and its neighbouring community to protect the forest from slash and burn, and to allow people to earn an income from the land in a sustainable way.
The brand’s new limited edition range is produced by Mayni community leader Dalia Casancho, who also features on the coffee’s packaging. The coffee, which celebrates Dalia’s indigenous community of women who are tackling the destruction of the Amazon, is dried with sugary juice from the coffee cherry, resulting in a unique, complex cup with notes of honey and stone fruit.
Community is at the heart of everything this coffee producer does. Paddy & Scott’s coffee comes from its sustainably-run farm in Kenya, where it ploughs profits back into the farm as well as the local community and school.
The brand’s flagship Jerry Can coffee is named in honour of the Ruiga School children who used jerry cans of water along the busy road to school. Eager to support the students so they could put down the cans and get back into the classroom, Paddy & Scott’s funded a 6.5km fresh-water pipeline. Every purchase of this coffee supports the continued work in the coffee growing community in Meru, Kenya, so you can enjoy a seriously tasty cup of Joe knowing that you’re supporting life-changing work for families and communities in Kenya. The coffee itself is medium roast with notes of dried fruit, blackcurrant and nuts, for a hearty and strong brew.
Is there anything better than having a box of coffee slipped through your letter box? Blue Coffee Box is a gourmet, sustainable coffee subscription club that delivers quality, ethical coffee to your door.
The brand focuses on ethically sourcing its beans from farmers and local cooperatives around the world. By following the Direct Trade model, it can pay farmers 30% more than Fairtrade prices, meaning the farmers can support their families and continue to invest in sustainable farming methods for the future. The beans are then hand-roasted in the UK by some of the country’s best speciality coffee roasters.
The brand is passionate about top-quality coffee, so if you’re serious about your brew, this is the brand for you. Through the letterbox subscription, you can discover new coffee varieties, countries, regions and roasters from the UK and around the world.
You’re probably familiar with this brand, and for good reason. As the UK’s first Fairtrade coffee brand, Cafédirect has made a name for itself for its delicious hot drinks that are a force for good.
Working directly with producers and paying Fairtrade social premiums for its crops, Cafédirect ensures a fair business partnership, and even invests up to 50% of its profits back into the grower communities that it purchases from. That means that, to date, Cafédirect has given over £6 million back to its farmers.
Besides being Fairtrade, the brand is committed to doing its part for the planet too, with one-third of its drinks certified as Soil Association Organic. If you like a rich, dark brew, try the Machu Picchu blend, a full-bodied, 100% Arabica coffee with hints of dark chocolate.