Caribou Coffee Cutting Artificial Ingredients From Beverages

Weeks after Dunkin’ Donuts said it would ditch artificial colors over the next two years, fellow coffee shop chain Caribou Coffee has already established a so-called “clean label standard” for its beverages, eliminating artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Caribou will eliminate more than 70 ingredients — such as artificial colors and flavors, caramel color, lard, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG — from its drinks by the end of the year, completing its clean label standard endeavor.

The clean label standard initiative began nearly three years ago when the company began reformulating, sourcing, and testing its products without the laundry list of ingredients.

“We looked at every single ingredient going into our beverages to make sure it tastes like what they are supposed to taste like,” Jenifer Hagness, Caribou’s senior director of product innovation, tells the Tribune of the changes.

The company says that in working toward the clean label standard it has switched artificial sweeteners for natural options like monk fruit extract.

Certain changes come at a higher cost for the chain, Hagness tells the Tribune, some of which could be passed on to customers.

“There is definitely a higher cost associated [with the ingredients], but we are doing as much as we can internally right now to stay cost neutral apart from inflation,” Hagness said.

Caribou also created a website touting its lack of additives, including a full list of banned ingredients, and a timeline of changes over the past decade.

For example, in 2004, the company says it began “running a clean operation” by building a Kosher and organic roasting and manufacturing facility. In 2007, the company began sourcing dairy products that had no added hormones, and announced that 100% of its coffee beans came from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Last year, the company began using real vanilla and syrup, as well as real pumpkin, in its drinks.

As for artificial ingredients in its other products, Caribou’s website notes that it is currently exploring how to “best clean up our menu beyond beverages.”