Why the lid of your takeaway coffee cup matters: Flat sipper lids versus lock-back sipper lids

Janice Kanniah
December 16, 2022
Why the lid of your takeaway coffee cup matters: Flat sipper lid versus lock-back sipper lids

As the specialty coffee market goes from strength to strength, new roasteries and coffee shops open up every day. 

This means current market players can expect to experience increased competition from new entrants. While you can differentiate yourself from your competitors by offering customers quality coffee, you should also revisit your choice of takeaway cup lids. 

Notably. the global paper cup lid market has flourished thanks to demand for specialty beverages such as coffee and is set to exceed $37 billion in a decade. More so, recent research shows takeaway coffee cups can stand out to consumers for their weight, eco-friendliness, ability to avoid spills, and hygienic qualities. 

Therefore, customers have come to expect their takeaway coffee cup lids to have these qualities. That said, there has been a shift in preferences towards more novel and innovative lids with unique features, such as flat sippers and lock-back lids.

Read on to discover how you can upgrade your takeaway coffee cup lids, and which option is better for your customers. 

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An image of takeaway coffee cup lids on display, showing how the design of takeaway cup lids has changed over time, in an article on Why the lid of your takeaway coffee cup matters: Flat sipper lid versus lock-back sipper lids

Why do takeaway coffee cup lids matter?

Takeaway coffee cup lids receive a fraction of the attention cups enjoy, despite being instrumental to a customer’s consumption experience. 

The designs of early takeaway cup lids were rudimentary, as the first ‘on-the-go’ drinkers considered them to be of little importance. That said, this changed when cars become commonplace, and customers had to commute with their takeaway orders. 

It became necessary for customers to find a safe way of drinking beverages on the go without spilling them or having to remove the lid entirely to do so. 

As many manufacturers had yet to account for this, many customers would rip small holes into their lids to facilitate easy drinking. 

Inventors, designers, and lid manufacturers took notice and began experimenting with lids. Takeaway coffee cup lid designs began to see a section that customers could peel back to gain access to a hole from which to drink. 

As technology improved, designers and inventors sought to improve takeaway cup lids in other ways. 

This included preventing the liquid from moving around while the cup was in motion, accommodating customers’ noses when they raised the cup to drink, and allowing some of the coffee aroma to escape, enhancing the consumers’ experience.

Other advances in design sought to make the coffee-drinking experience more pleasant by cooling the brew slightly before consumption or allowing its aromas to dissipate outside the cup. 

Dozens of cup lid shapes, sizes, and designs exist. However, two designs that are commonly found on the market are flat sipper lids and lock-back sipper lids. 

An image of two takeaway coffee cups with lock-back sipper lids in an article on Why the lid of your takeaway coffee cup matters: Flat sipper lid versus lock-back sipper lids

Takeaway coffee cups lids: Flat sipper vs lock-back sipper 

In the current coffee market, there are four major types of takeaway cup lids: flat, pinch, puncture, and pucker lids. 

Flat sipper lids are the oldest and most common lids available. They are flat and contain a mouth hole. This built-in hole allows customers to consume the coffee and see what is inside the cup. 

Some holes can also accommodate wooden stirrers, allowing customers to add sugar to their beverage and stir it on the go without spilling. 

These lids contain the least amount of material in their production due to the simplicity of their design. Additionally, this makes them easier for roasters and coffee shops to come by, and more affordable to purchase. 

One downside to flat sipper coffee cup lids is they may spill during sharp movements and may accelerate the coffee’s cooling as the hole exposes it directly to external temperatures. 

Lock-back sipper lids build on the peel-back lids of yesteryear but incorporate a more sophisticated design. 

Some integrate radial score lines and a clearly defined and perforated tear tab so customers can remove the relevant section without damaging any other part of the lid. 

This peeled-back tab remains on the cup and can be locked in position, giving the customer unfettered access to the mouth hole. 

These lids are easy to operate with one hand and, as they can be closed, are able to keep coffee hotter for longer so customers can sip it more slowly. It also means that they can temporarily lock it in place when in motion to prevent spills. 

That said, as they are more complex in design than standard takeaway coffee cup lids, lock-back sipper lids tend to cost more. 

An image of takeaway coffee cups in line, with examples of flat sippper cup lids and lack-back sipper lids in an article on Why the lid of your takeaway coffee cup matters: Flat sipper lid versus lock-back sipper lids

Which lid should you choose for takeaway coffee cups?

It is likely your choice of takeaway coffee cup lid – and any other takeaway material – will be determined by your customers and budget.

For practical reasons, a flat lid can be a more economical choice, especially if you have a highly trafficked takeaway section that serves dozens of customers an hour. 

It works well for standard drink options customers are likely to choose on their way to work or any other location. 

These types of customers are unlikely to linger over their drinks for a long time and may dispose of the empty cup and lid in the nearest bin the moment they finish.

You can help prevent spills when using flat lids by avoiding overfilling takeaway cups. Additionally, you can avoid serving coffee at a temperature that may scald anyone accidentally should the liquid be sloshed around. 

Alternatively, if your concern is preserving the drink as long as possible and allowing consumers to drink it safely, lock-back lids are best.

This can be a good choice when you are serving takeaway coffee in extremely cold temperatures and want to keep it from getting cold too quickly. 

Lock-back takeaway coffee cup lids are also an effective option for beverages served in a drive-thru, as they can help prevent drivers from spilling their drinks during their commute. 

An image of a coffee shop owner holding two kraft paper takeaway coffee cups with flat sipper lids in an article on Why the lid of your takeaway coffee cup matters: Flat sipper lid versus lock-back sipper lids

You may not have thought there were so many decisions to make when choosing a takeaway cup and lid — let alone all the accessories that can come with it. 

Luckily, MTPak Coffee has you covered. We offer roasters and coffee shops a range of SensoryLids, which are specifically designed so customers can enjoy the full aroma of your takeaway coffee without spillages. 

Our SensoryLid was designed with the help of cupping experts and barista champions and allows consumers to continue receiving the coffee’s aroma thanks to an innovative sensory hole.

Additionally, our range of sustainable takeaway coffee cups is made from recyclable materials such as bamboo fibre, PET, or kraft paper with an environmentally friendly PLA lining and are available in different sizes: 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz.

Our takeaway coffee cups are strong, waterproof, lightweight, and 100% compostable, and can be custom-designed using innovative digital printing technology to feature your brand logo or recycling instructions. 

We also offer a range of low minimum order quantity (MOQ) options. This means you can order as few as 500 fully customised units in just five working days.

For more information on custom-printed, sustainable takeaway coffee cups, contact our team. 

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