The Things Caribou Coffee Won't Include In Its Drinks - Exclusive

Even if you don't live near one of the more than 450 Caribou Coffee locations, from the stand-alone stores to "non-traditional" outposts in places like universities and airports, you've likely seen the brand's bagged coffee or K-Cups in the grocery store. Maybe you picked up a bag of Daybreak or Cabin Life blend beans. Whatever your prior experience with Caribou Coffee, you likely noticed the great taste of the coffee and the warm, friendly atmosphere in the brand's retail locations — but did you notice anything that was missing?

Turns out, there's actually quite a lot missing from Caribou Coffee's products — but that's a good thing. We recently spoke to Erin Newkirk, the chief brand and marketing officer at Caribou Coffee, in an exclusive Mashed interview, and she let us in on what exactly the brand is keeping out of its drinks (hint: it's a whopping more than 70 ingredients in total).

The first national coffee chain to go 100% clean label

Caribou Coffee boasts that it's the first national coffee chain to offer 100% clean label beverages, as of 2017, which means the brand doesn't add any chemicals or artificial flavors to its drinks. If your drink is supposed to have a certain flavor, like chocolate or pumpkin, that flavor is going to be the real deal.

Newkirk said, "At Caribou Coffee, clean label means that our drinks are not made with artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, MSG, or high fructose syrup. You can taste the difference in our signature mochas, crafted with real chocolate chips melted into espresso; or in our seasonal beverages, with real pumpkin puree as a core ingredient in many fall favorites; or in the [whipped] cream that tops our signature coolers. It's made fresh daily! Our reason is simple: We believe that real ingredients taste better."

Caribou Coffee also follows its own "Off-Limit List," which includes 70 ingredients that it'll never add to its beverages.

What else is not included?

Beyond the sketchy fake ingredients that Caribou Coffee leaves out of its drinks, there are a few other important things that Caribou keeps far, far away from the brand and all its products: like unethical sourcing methods. Caribou Coffee is 100% Rainforest Alliance certified, which means that it exclusively sources all of its coffee beans from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms. 

According to Newkirk, this means that Caribou Coffee (and, by extension, the consumer) is actively supporting farmers' livelihoods, climate-smart agriculture, biodiversity, sustainable land management, human rights, and more — because no one wants forced labor, low wages, and gender inequality as part of their coffee order every morning.

Newkirk said, "Continuing to source 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and espresso at Caribou Coffee speaks to our commitment to integrate sustainable practices from seed to cup."

She added, "It's a commitment that our coffee team developed and upheld for years, not just in support of the highest-quality coffee, but also in support of farmers and our partners, some relationships that span over 20 years. It's important to us that we support our global communities, not just where Caribou Coffee products are consumed, but where they are sourced as well."

To learn more about Caribou Coffee, visit and follow the coffeehouse on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.