Jan 10, 2024 - Business

Starbucks faces lawsuit over coffee sourcing claims

Starbucks Coffee sign

The National Consumers League is suing Starbucks in a new lawsuit. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Starbucks is being sued over allegations that the company is deceiving consumers with its claims of "100% ethical" coffee and tea sourcing.

Driving the news: The lawsuit filed by the National Consumers League Wednesday alleges the company sources coffee and tea from farms with documented human rights abuses, including child labor and human trafficking.

  • The Seattle-based company told Axios it was aware of the lawsuit filed in a Washington D.C. court and said it plans to "aggressively defend against the asserted claims that Starbucks has misrepresented its ethical sourcing commitments to customers."

What they're saying: "We take allegations like these extremely seriously and are actively engaged with farms to ensure they adhere to our standards," Starbucks said in a statement Wednesday.

  • "Each supply chain is required to undergo reverification regularly and we remain committed to working with our business partners to meet the expectations detailed in our Global Human Rights Statement."
  • Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League, said "on every bag of coffee and box of K-cups sitting on grocery store shelves, Starbucks is telling consumers a lie."
  • "Starbucks has brewed up a campaign of deception and they're charging consumers a premium for it," Greenberg said on a call with reporters.

What we're watching: Stacey Leyton, a lawyer representing the National Consumers League, said the lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, penalties and damages.

  • "The lawsuit aims to hold Starbucks accountable to D.C. law, to the consumers who have relied on its false and misleading representations and to the farmworkers who are enduring conditions no human being should have to suffer," Leyton said on a call with reporters.

More from Axios:

Go deeper