Reduce plastic pollution, don’t sacrifice your morning macchiato, possibly save money in the process. We review three eco coffee cup alternatives, from the collapsible to the chic…
With the shocking focus on the devastating impact of plastic pollution in our oceans in Blue Planet II, the ‘War on Waste’ campaign launched by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in 2016 to highlight the fact that takeaway coffee cups are not only non-recyclable, but lead to mountains of rubbish polluting our land and seas, plus the relative lack of action by coffee outlets in the UK, the government is cracking down on coffee cup waste. MPs are proposing a 25p “latte levy’”, with the charge added onto disposable coffee cups, with a call to prohibit the sale of the non-recyclable cups altogether by 2023. Given that we plough through 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year, with a minimal number of these being recycled and half a million a day littered on the streets, more sustainable options akin to our widespread adoption of ‘bags for life’ over 5p plastic bags could provide a solution, at least until coffee retailers innovate 100 percent biodegradable, recyclable takeaway cups.
In the manner of being better humans, we’ve replaced our disposable cups for reusable alternatives, and discovered that some of our favourite joints are also giving us money off our lattes, or any other hot drink of choice, which provides further incentive for eco-coffee cup investments in our book. Here’s where going green pays:
Pret: 50p discount
Costa, Starbucks and Paul: 25p discount
Greggs: 20p discount
Caffe Nero: No money off but double loyalty stamps
And here’s what we brought along to the shops (obviously making your own beverage at home is even more economical but you’re clearly more organisationally gifted and efficient than we are). Incidentally there’s no BPA-packaging to speak of here.
Joco 16oz Reusable Glass Coffee Cup, £24.95
What is it?
A sleek glass cup with a silicone top and sleeve that’s available in a veritable rainbow of colours. It’s dishwasher and microwave safe and apparently features an anti-splash, ergonomic lid (‘ergonomic’ is one of those words that sounds impressive but I’m still not 100 per cent on what it’s bringing to the table). Sizes roughly correspond with your average high street coffee cup sizes, so you needn’t slosh your flat white about in a supersize-me vat.
Who is it for?
Sophisticates who like to show off their coffee (window right onto your frothy capp) and are non clumsy- being a klutz, I couldn’t shake the paranoia that I might smash this in my bag/ drop it dramatically and cause a health hazard on the tube. For the record, it remains intact and I’m possibly overthinking it.
If you’re concerned about it being overly heavy, don’t be- it was lighter to carry about than I expected. It’s also simple to clean.
It looks good, it feels good and it went down well at my local coffee shops- there were no complex receptacles, bells or whistles to slow down a barista’s day. Sealing the lid back on took a few goes, but there was no leakage once on. It keeps coffee hot for a good twenty minutes. I did tread on eggshells a little owing to the glass material- it’s not the simplest to whack in your bag, but otherwise, Joco is a goer, although the price point is fairly steep. You pay for ‘sleek’, it seems.
Stojo Collapsible Pocket Cup 12oz, £9.99
What is it?
A wibbly wobbly silicone cup that’s intended to ‘collapse’ into your pocket for easy cart around-ability. The pocket thing is ambitious, depending on how deep yours are (literally- figuratively speaking this is quite a bargain), but it does squish very well into handbags, gym kits and desk draws. Dishwasher and microwave safe, you’ve got a heat sleeve to prevent burnt mits and it’s leak-proof. As long as you’ve put the lid on properly. More on that in a minute.
Who is it for?
Spatially challenged hot drinks fans who resent hulking around bulky or heavy coffee flasks- this cup is the lightest and most portable of the bunch, compressing down from five inches to two inches. If you’re used to a hard cup to hold, however, this will take some adjustment. During the first week of trial both myself and at least two baritas seized the cup a little two firmly when attempting to screw the lid on- cue a coffee soaking. As a result, even when the lid was in place, it took a good few americanos for me to feel secure drinking from a soft cup on the hoof. You’ll get the hang of it, but be sure to warn whoever’s making your coffee beforehand of potential splash risks.
It’s certainly handy and affordable, but one tester did report that their coffee was lukewarm-ish after ten minutes. This could be traced back to the coffee shop that brewed it, but if in doubt go ‘extra hot’ with your order. The flexible structure proved a little problematic, but as long as you’re cautious with your coffee-making, this should be more of an advantage than a detractor. It also gets points for being convenient, clever and easy to clean.
Thermos Stainless King™Travel Mug 475ml, £25.95
What is it?
You know the drill with a Thermos- you’re earl grey’s staying piping hot and if you’re in the mood for an iced coffee, that’ll be freezy too. This particular model is more of a mug than traditional flask, with a large handle and leak-proof lid. It’s the sturdiest of the three we tried (possibly hence the 50 year warranty), but bear in mind that’s it’s also the heaviest. With a stainless steel interior and exterior, it endures a lot of knocking about but won’t endanger the inner sanctum of your handbag.
Who is it for?
Trekkers, hikers, picnic fans, outdoorsy types, office workers putting in the hours- basically anyone who needs their drink to stay steaming hot until the afternoon (seven hours), or cool for even longer (18 hours). This delivered day in, day out on the hot coffee front, and was faff-free in the great rush-hour coffee shop pilgrimage.
You know what you’re getting with this one, and it was superior by miles in terms of keeping drinks fresh and pretty much as you made/ ordered them for yonks, but it is a little tricky to drink from on-the-go. It opens via two slots, so I feared that I’d be pouring coffee into my eyes as well as my mouth. This never actually happened (beverage paranoia again?), but I left the actual drinking until I got to my desk most of the time, even pouring it into a china cup when I was feeling particularly fancy pre-meeting. This would be brilliant for stashing into backpacks for long walks or days about time- no separate cup needed as is usually the case with a Thermos. It’s spendy, but it’s got the edge on the competition.