How can coffee brands tell a better sustainability story?

Costa, Starbucks, Illy, Nespresso – there’s a lot of choice when it comes to coffee. But it’s no longer just down to taste. If we continue to drink coffee as predicted, production must double or even triple by 2050. Brands increasingly need to share how they source their coffee beans sustainably, with responsible labor practices and environmental protections.

Context looked at which coffee brands tell their story best. We examined 11 brands, all owned by companies committed to improving the sustainability of their coffee – meaning they should have an exciting story to tell. See who performs best in our new report (details below).

In this blog, we step back and ask: how can coffee brands tell a good sustainability story? We examine four categories:


Why it matters: Brands need to tell their stories clearly and concisely. Otherwise the story won’t resonate with their target audience.

One to watch: Nescafé does a great job of using distinctive messaging to frame their ‘Grown Respectfully’ strategy. Language is individualized and straightforward.


Why it matters: Posting regular content online shows brands are actively engaged in sustainability. It makes their story believable.

One to watch: Taylor’s of Harrogate share posts written with a journal-like feel. The casual and insightful tone connects their customers and sustainability work to the farmers who grow their coffee.


Why it matters: Infographics and videos make complex sustainability strategies easy to understand and remember.

One to watch: Starbucks makes excellent use of infographics and videos to walk website viewers through their strategy.

Social media

Why it matters: Like it or not, an increasing number of people get their news from social media. It’s one of the best ways for brands to keep in touch with key audiences.

One to watch: Brands could get more from their sustainability work when it comes to twitter. McDonald’s posts the most about their coffee work, asking rhetorical questions to spark interest.

Find more examples and communications guidance in the full report.

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