If you’re a fan of the social media icon, Emma Chamberlain, I am sure you know her coffee brand, Chamberlain Coffee. As much as I adore Emma herself, I never realized how much her company seems very greenwash-y and not at all what I expected. Their generic statements of claiming to be responsibly and sustainably made are extremely vague and disappointing while many other companies have made the efforts in providing lengthy pages about their production processes. I was expecting more to be said about their efforts since they seem to be very focused on marketing, but clearly not for the right reasons! Chamberlain Coffee can do better and I hope to see transparency about their true production processes, specific packaging details, and workers’ conditions. Their audience is likely composed of Emma’s fanbase and anyone on the younger side because they are more of a ‘trendy’ coffee company, which can indicate the heightened awareness of sustainability. It is no surprise that they result to greenwashing tactics.
The only ingredient is the roasted black coffee. Apparently, the coffee beans are organic, fair trade, and vegan. However, the information regarding these notions is the most minimal I have ever seen within a company. The product page itself includes virtually no information regarding this particular coffee. Since the company has different flavors, I was expecting to see how each flavor was crafted specifically, not to steal the recipe, but to be knowledgeable of the production process to learn about their carbon footprint. The closest thing they include is the core elements they seem to plaster everywhere of ‘proudly being sustainably sourced, responsibly made, and sustainably packaged’. Although these may be true, there is not specific information in terms of what exact certifications, what type of packaging, and what type of standards or labor practices. On their Frequently Asked Questions page, when asking if the coffee is organic, fair trade, ethical, and vegan, the response is the most pathetic one liner ever. For example, the response to whether their coffee is organic is, “Yes, all our coffees are Organic certified”. It seriously could not get any more vague. Sure they mention briefly on the product page that they are USDA Organic, but I find it suspicious that they do not include that mention of ‘USDA Organic’ when answering this question. The lack of uniformity in terms of their public information makes me distrust them as to whether these certifications are actually legitimate. Chamberlain Coffee can do better in providing specific information as to what exact certifications they have and the practices they claim to have.
The individual steeped bags are essentially coffee in tea bag form for convenience and the perfect serving size. Considering how these come in individual steeped bags, the packaging will build up and be more wasteful than purchasing the larger bag of ground coffee beans. Though they claim to use ‘environmentally friendly materials’, does this extend to everything down to the steeped bags? Not only is that extremely vague language, but they do not specify if they are only referring to the outer packaging. Chamberlain Coffee needs to explicitly state their processes and materials, rather than greenwashing consumers.
Their coffee making process is laid out as roasting the beans at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in small batches and then cooking the beans to preserve the flavor. However, I was able to translate their process as being very energy intensive and not efficient in terms of saving energy since they purposefully roast them in small batches for a long period of time. If they are aiming to be sustainable, it would probably be better to roast them in larger batches to minimize the amount of energy used. Although I understand this is to produce high quality coffee for customers, I do not appreciate them labelling their production process as ‘responsibly made’ when they do not even provide any information that supports that claim. Are they using solar power? How do they transport their goods? Are they attempting to use renewable sources or trying to recycle their water to minimize waste? No information is provided about sustainability that they so proudly promote on their product pages, while no other information is to be found when actually addressing their coffee making process. Even though they argue it is responsibly made and that may be true, it does not provide any true meaning when consumers are not being told what that exactly means for this company. Their plain labels of being ‘Organic and Fair Trade certified’ is not enough information as consumers should be given this transparency without searching on their own.
Chamberlain Coffee states they source their coffee from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Sumatra. They are Fair Trade and Organic certified, which is supposed to mean they are adhering to strict environmental and fair labor standards by not using synthetic fertilizers, paying a livable wage, or have safe working conditions. They only state two sentences of the regions in which the beans are sourced from and their claim of being Fair Trade and Organic certified. However, there is no Fair Trade and Organic certified logo to be found anywhere on the site, which I found suspicious because it seems like they are simply just stating these buzzwords to gain acceptance from conscious consumers without providing real proof. They continue to emphasize how it is Fair Trade but I do not trust it. Logos are used to create obvious uniformity and trust or security for consumers. Without the visible logo and just using blanket statements claiming they are certified seems like greenwashing. There is no information about who is making their products and what is being done to do so because they do not provide it. I could not find any information about who makes it and much of the other relevant information needed for an informed conclusion about the company’s sustainability. The lack of evidence and willingness to reveal information demonstrates their minimal efforts in being transparent and how they may be greenwashing.