South West Chain Boston Tea Party Named As One Of Most Ethical Coffee Shops In UK

South West Chain Boston Tea Party Named As One Of Most Ethical Coffee Shops In UK

Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson

A leading consumer organisation has recognised South West coffee shop chain, Boston Tea Party, as one of the most ethical cafés in Britain.

Ethical Consumer, the UK’s leading alternative consumer organisation, published its guide to ethical coffee shop chains in December. The environmental record, tax record and use of Fairtrade were amongst the criteria under scrutiny in fifteen leading coffee shop chains.

Alongside Boston Tea Party, Muffin Break, Soho Coffee, Greggs, Coffee #1 and AMT Coffee were given the ‘Best Rating’ by the consumer group.

Those who fell foul of the ethical scrutiny included Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Caffè Ritazza, Pret a Manger and McDonald’s.

In order to determine which chains were considered ethical and which were not, Ethical Consumer began by considering the chains’ use of Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance Certified tea and coffee. Boston Tea Party swept up success here, with its coffee sourced from Extract Coffee (Direct Trade Model) and its teas either Fairtrade, organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified. The hot chocolate at Boston is also Fairtrade and organic, as well as offering a vegan option.

Ethical Consumer also examined whether organic milk was used in the top chains. They found that all of Boston’s milk was organic and that non-dairy options (soya and oat) were offered at no extra charge.

Perhaps the most significant category for consideration was the chains’ use of reusable cups and thus their ability to challenge society’s throw-away culture. In this respect, Boston Tea Party came out as champions and were named ‘Best Buy’ in the reusable coffee cup category having ditched plastic straws and bottles as well as disposable coffee cups completely. There is even a tracker on their website which shows how many cups have been saved from landfill. Instead, Boston customers can bring their own reusable cup (or yogurt pot, as one customer featured on their Facebook page recently did!), buy a reusable cup or loan one with their refundable deposit scheme.


Boston Tea Party reusable cups


Ben Hibbard, Marketing Manager for Boston Tea Party, was happy to share Boston’s success story with Grow, saying:

“We are extremely proud to be recognised by Ethical Consumer. It’s quite the accolade!”

The process by which Boston Tea Party and the other coffee shop chains were examined highlighted a variety of positives and negatives in terms of ethics and sustainability. Although Boston came out in the top category, Ben was quick to point out that this did not mean that their ethical and sustainable efforts were at an end.

“Receiving this recognition does not mean to say that we are perfect. There are many things that we are working on and we are always pushing to be as ethical and sustainable as we can.”

In their mission to strive for ethical and sustainable perfection, Boston Tea Party have demonstrated that they are not satisfied in reaching this goal alone.

“We run workshops for other coffee groups. We want to show other businesses how we do it to so that they can do it too.”

Boston Tea Party’s ethical considerations extend further than its reusable cups and sustainable produce. They have become a green powerhouse for the South West and through their mission to “Make Things Better”, they are dedicated to using green vegan energy.

Powered by Ecotricity, the UK’s only energy supplier that is registered with The Vegan Society, all of Boston’s electricity and gas is green and vegan. As part of their campaign to make Britain greener, Boston are offering customers a £50 gift card for switching their supplier to Ecotricity. Ben explained:

“We have been with Ecotricity for two years. They are a similar-minded business built on green credentials. They are the number one green energy provider in the UK so it was a no-brainer really!”

In addition, Boston Tea Party champions vegetarian and vegan food as part of a sustainable lifestyle. Their website, social media and coffee shops themselves are catered towards vegetarianism and veganism, from vegan hot chocolate to veggie and vegan breakfasts and brunches. Through social media, they have shown their support for Veganuary and made clear that Vegan customers are welcome and well-catered for.

As a relatively small chain in comparison to some of those surveyed by Ethical Consumer, Boston Tea Party has demonstrated that being ethical and green does not need to come at the detriment of being profitable. Ben explained:

“We have always operated in this manner, so it didn’t necessarily come as a surprise that we are ahead of some of the bigger chains. Having sustainability as part of our business model is just the way that we operate. It’s not about being better than the rest, it’s about showing that sustainability is a way of doing business.”

Let’s hope that those businesses that did not make the ethical cut can learn from the practices of chains such as Boston Tea Party and can move towards a more ethical and sustainable future.


Photo by Tyler Nix  and rawpixel on Unsplash

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