Can a Vegan Drink Organic Coffee

woman drinking coffee

Can a vegan drink organic coffee? This is an area of confusion for many new vegans. It is important in answering that question to understand exactly what a vegan is.

What Is a Vegan?

The simple answer is that a vegan is someone who doesn't consume animal products. However, there are as many types of vegans are there are vegetarians.

  • Vegans do not consume dairy products or eggs at all, including:
    • Cheese
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
  • They don't eat Jell-O or anything that has gelatin in it because gelatin is made from animal bones.
  • Many vegans won't eat sugar because the white sugar is processed by using char from animal bones.
  • Vegans must even be careful of margarine because some margarines are produced using casein, a milk product.
  • Vegans will not wear or use items made from animal products such as:
    • Leather
    • Wool
  • Some vegans will not eat honey because there is a percentage of bees that may be killed when the honey is harvested by the beekeeper.
  • They do not use cosmetics and other products that have been tested on animals.

Can a Vegan Drink Organic Coffee without Compromise?

Each person has answer the question, "Can a vegan drink organic coffee?" for themselves. Coffee is not produced from animal sources, and no part of the process uses animal products. In that sense, a vegan can comfortably drink a soy double caf latte with turbinado sugar and not feel guilty.However, some coffee growers clear important forest areas to create more sun on the coffee fields. This interferes with the natural habitat of many birds and animals. Some of these species are becoming threatened or even extinct. Generally, organic growers are more conscientious of the environment. However, this is not guaranteed. It is important to look a little more carefully at the coffee that you consume. There are some terms you need to be familiar with.

Organic Coffee Terms

The terms that are important for a vegan to understand when deciding on whether or not to drink coffee are pretty straightforward and easy to understand.


Organic means that the coffee was grown without chemicals or pesticides that are not permitted according to organic standards. It also means that the beans cannot be subjected to fumigation and other common practices when coming in to the country.

Fair Trade

This is also referred to as Fairly Traded. This means that the coffee product was produced according to Fair Trade practices which guarantee workers fair wages for their work. Some companies provide schools, medical facilities, and other benefits for workers. Fair trade, organic coffee is relatively easy to find.

Shade Grown

Shade grown is a term given to coffee that has been grown on a field that has either not been deforested or it has had trees planted back on it to emulate the natural environment. The problem with this is that sometimes only one or two varieties of trees are planted and this does not provide a natural habitat for the wildlife.

Bird Friendly

Bird friendly is probably the best choice for the vegan. The criteria for the label "Bird Friendly" is set forth by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. In order to receive this seal, the coffee must follow the following rules:

  • Third party inspection to see if the coffee grower meets the criteria
  • Must meet organic certification standards
  • Must have a 12 foot canopy of the basic species of tree
  • 40% Foliage cover
  • Native vegetation
  • Must contribute 10 cents per pound of green coffee beans to Smithsonian Migratory Bird Research

You can find out all of the specific criteria in this quick reference guide.

Bird friendly coffee is being produced in:

  • Bolivia
  • Columbia
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Peru

Choosing a Coffee

If you are going to drink coffee, your best choice as a vegan may well be the Bird Friendly varieties. Always look into the company to make sure that their business practices are in line with your own ethical beliefs.

Can a Vegan Drink Organic Coffee