The role of business ethics in the coffee industry

1. Introduction

In recent years, society has become increasingly interested in the responsible behavior of firms. Many firms are now concerned about values and are developing ethical codes. The coffee industry is no exception. In this essay, we will discuss the role of business ethics in the coffee industry and its implications for the coffee supply chain. We will also explore the changing business environment and how it is impacting the way businesses operate. Finally, we will examine the role of ethical values in business practices and how they can be used to create a more sustainable and responsible industry.

2. coffee and its suppliers

The coffee industry is a global industry with coffee beans sourced from all over the world. The majority of the world’s coffee is grown in developing countries, with Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia being the top producers (International Coffee Organization, 2017). The coffee supply chain is long and complex, involving many different actors, including farmers, pickers, processors, roasters, and retailers. At each stage of the supply chain, there are opportunities for exploitation and unethical practices. For example, farmers may be paid below the cost of production, workers may be paid poorly or working in unsafe conditions, and coffee may be roasted using child labor.

The coffee industry has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for its environmental and social impacts. The growing demand for coffee has led to an expansion of coffee farming into new areas, often at the expense of forests and natural habitats. Coffee farming can also be water-intensive and polluting, causing environmental degradation in regions where it is grown. Furthermore, the use of pesticides and herbicides on coffee farms can adversely affect the health of workers and local communities. In addition to its environmental impacts, the coffee industry has also been criticized for its social impacts. Coffee farming is often associated with low wages, poor working conditions, and child labor. Moreover, smallholder farmers often struggle to make a living due to volatile markets and middlemen who take a large share of profits. As a result of these issues, there is a growing movement among consumers for ethically produced coffee.

3. Business Ethics and its Theories

Business ethics is the study of ethical principles and standards that guide businesses in their decision-making (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2015). It includes research on the ethical implications of business practices as well as efforts to promote ethical values in businesses. Business ethics has its roots in philosophy and theology but has grown into a distinct field of study in recent years (Sikka, 2010). Business ethicists seek to understand how ethical values can be applied to business decisions and practices (Donaldson & Dunfee, 1994). They also strive to develop theories that can guide businesses in their decision-making (Singer & Wilkonson, 2010). The most prominent theory in business ethics is stakeholder theory (Freeman & Wicks, 2010). Stakeholder theory posits that businesses have a responsibility to all stakeholders – those who are affected by their activities (e.g., employees, customers, suppliers, local communities). This theory provides a framework for businesses to consider the Ethical Principles when making decisions (Donaldson & Dunfee 1999). Other important theories in business ethics include social contract theory (which posits that businesses have a responsibility to society) and consequentialism (which focus on the consequences of actions) (Sikka 2010).

4. The changing business environment

The business environment is constantly changing, and this is having a significant impact on the way businesses operate. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on sustainable development and responsibility, both from consumers and regulators. This has led to an increased demand for ethically produced goods and services. As a result, businesses are under pressure to change their practices in order to meet this demand. In addition, the rise of social media has given consumers a powerful platform to voice their opinions on business practices. This has put pressure on businesses to be more transparent and accountable for their actions. Furthermore, the increasing focus on sustainability is leading to new regulations and standards, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Businesses need to be aware of these changes and adapt their practices accordingly.

5. The role of ethical values in business practices

Ethical values are a fundamental part of business ethics. They provide guidance on how businesses should act in order to meet their responsibilities (Donaldson & Dunfee 1999). The most important ethical values for businesses are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect (Ferrell & Fraedrich 2015). These values should be reflected in all aspects of business operations, from decision-making to marketing and product development. By adhering to these values, businesses can create a more sustainable and responsible industry.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, business ethics is a critical issue for the coffee industry. The industry is under pressure to change its practices in order to meet the growing demand for ethically produced coffee. Businesses need to consider the ethical implications of their decisions and operations in order to create a more sustainable and responsible industry.


Business ethics is the study of right and wrong in the business world. It includes issues like bribery, discrimination, fraud, and insider trading. Business ethics is important because it helps businesses make sure they are operating ethically and within the law.

The main theories of business ethics are utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Utilitarianism says that the morally right thing to do is whatever will create the most happiness or pleasure for the greatest number of people. Deontology says that there are certain moral rules that we should all follow, regardless of the consequences. Virtue ethics says that being a good person is more important than anything else.

Businesses can apply ethical theories to their decision-making by considering what would create the most happiness or pleasure for the greatest number of people (utilitarianism), following moral rules even if it means sacrificing something else (deontology), or striving to be good people who act in accordance with virtuous character traits (virtue ethics).

Some common ethical issues faced by businesses include bribery, discrimination, fraud, and insider trading.

Businesses can create an ethical culture within their organization by setting up codes of conduct, hiring employees who share their values, and making sure their policies reflect their commitment to ethical behavior.