Is Coffee Vegan? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Vegan and Sustainable Coffee

Some beans are better than others.

Coffee with cream
Jonathan Knowles / Getty Images

If you are a coffee lover, you're in luck: Coffee is naturally vegan.

The processes of harvesting and roasting coffee beans do not involve the use of animals. Because coffee beans come directly from the Coffea plant, you can rest assured your cup of joe in the morning is plant-based.

Nevertheless, you may want to keep a close eye on the beans' journey from the fields to the roaster to your supermarket and local coffee bar. There are environmental issues within the coffee industry worth considering when you're choosing between brands.

Here, we dive into why coffee is vegan and which coffee choices are the most sustainable.

Why Coffee Is Vegan

There are no animals or animal by-products involved in harvesting or roasting coffee beans, which are sourced directly from the Coffea plant. Some, but not all, Coffea flowering shrubs or small trees produce the red or purple fruits, which yield the pip, or cherry. After the beans are processed from the cherries, they are dried, milled, roasted, and, in some cases, ground before being packaged and shipped to stores.

Sustainability Considerations

While coffee is vegan, some coffee producers have better sustainability standards than others. Vegans typically aim to align themselves with ethical consumerism, so it might be of interest to research and avoid companies associated with damaging rainforest practices, as well as farmers who are unfairly paid because coffee prices are so low.

Fortunately, some of the most flavorful fair-trade, organic-certified coffees are produced by small, independently owned roasters around the United States. These businesses support ethically operated coffee producers.

Beyond the fair trade and organic seals on coffee packaging, keep an eye out for indications of the following attributes:

  • Production in a LEED standard energy-efficient factory.
  • Shelf-stable, fully biodegradable coffee packaging.
  • Shade-grown beans.
  • Championing workers' rights.

Treehugger Tip

You can donate to coffee charities to show your support for farmers and counter sustainability issues within the industry. The Coffee Trust supports Guatemalan producers and the regeneration of their land, and World Coffee Research has led to innovations like drought- and disease-resistant coffee plants that benefit farmers.

Vegan Coffee Beans & Ground Roasts

Enjoy your morning or afternoon coffee fresh at home or on the go. In addition to delicious roasts by a few big-name brands you know, we included a small sampling of the many boutique brands available in the United States.

  • Starbucks Blonde Roast Ground Coffee
  • Cafe Du Monde Ground Roast Chicory
  • Peet's Coffee Organic French Roast
  • Seattle's Best Coffee (Toasted Hazelnut is a top-selling flavor)
  • Bones Coffee Company
  • Grady's Cold Brew Coffee (coarse grind)
  • GOODSAM - Organic Arabica Ground Coffee
  • Don E. Gains Cherry Medium Roast Ground Coffee 
  • Ethical Bean Ground Coffee
  • Concentric Lift Sustainable Ground Roast Coffee
  • Artisan La Petite Turkish Coffee
  • Kawaii Hawaiian Ground Roast Coffee
  • Mayorga Organics Cafe Cuban
  • Well Bean Premium Ground Roast Coffee
  • Equal Exchange
  • Cafédirect
  • Doma Coffee Roasting Company
  • Kickapoo Coffee Roasters
  • Birds & Beans Coffee 
  • Grounds for Change
  • Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Stumptown Coffee
  • Café Mam Ground Coffee
  • Higher Ground Roasters
  • Conscious Coffees
  • Salt Spring Coffees
  • Cafédirect Coffees
  • Grumpy Mule

Vegan Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is a wonderful and sometimes necessary option to have on hand, especially when you're short on time. Here are some instant coffees you can count on to be vegan and sustainably produced.

  • Maxim Mocha Gold Mild Coffee Mix
  • La Republica Organic Instant Coffee
  • Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee Dark Roast Packets French Roast
  • Highground Regular Organic Kosher and Vegan Instant Coffee Single Serve Packets
  • Alpine Start Premium Instant Coffee
  • Four Sigmatic Foods Mushroom Instant Coffee
  • Tiger 5 Mushroom Coffee - Organic Superfood Mushroom Coffee 
  • Nuvia Healthy Gourmet Instant Coffee
  • Milksta Vegan & Decaf Lactation Coffee
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can vegans drink coffee?

    Yes. Black coffee and coffee with plant-based creamers or milks are vegan.

  • Are K-Cup coffees vegan?

    K-Cup coffee may be vegan. Check the label, particularly on flavored K-Cups, for any dairy ingredients that would make the cup non-vegan.

  • Is Starbucks coffee vegan?

    Yes, Starbucks coffee is vegan. Review their menu for vegan specialty drinks.