How takeaway cup weight alters customer coffee flavour perception

Janice Kanniah
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January 27, 2023
an image of a female barista handing over ripple wall takeaway coffee cups custom printed black takeaway coffee cups in an article on How takeaway cup weight alters customer coffee flavour perception

From roasting to cupping, those in the coffee industry can spend years gathering the experience needed to identify a coffee’s characteristics. 

Even then, some may attend tasting sessions where the coffee’s details have been hidden to prevent personal bias from affecting the assessment. 

The coffee cupping process is also carefully regulated. Authorities from the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) prefer cup tasters to use a vessel that is a specific weight, size, and material, as these elements can impact the cupping experience.

The same logic applies to customers, whose daily coffee experience may be affected by the vessel from which they consume coffee.

When choosing takeaway coffee cups for customers, the volume, appearance, and material often get the most attention — however, takeaway cup weight is rarely examined or considered.

A recent study suggests roasters and coffee shop owners should consider how takeaway cup weight alters a customer’s perception of flavour. 

To find out if there are any other benefits to choosing heavier takeaway cups, I spoke with Rachel Wei, the Senior Account Manager for MTPak Coffee.

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How do takeaway cups impact a customer’s coffee drinking experience?

Takeaway cups have become a mainstay of coffee establishments the world over. 

The quality of coffee has increased and specialty options have become more accessible. More so, coffee shop owners have realised how takeaway cups have the power to enhance or detract from a coffee’s flavour.

As consumers perceive a coffee’s flavour holistically, the sensory aspects of the takeaway cup can affect how they perceive it. 

For example, customers may find an embossed takeaway coffee cup tempting to touch, and be enticed to consume its content.

Alternatively, narrow takeaway coffee cups may emphasise a coffee’s aroma. Research suggests round takeaway coffee cups are often associated with sweetness, while angular ones are perceived to be more bitter.

Notably, engaging a customer’s senses is unlikely to disguise a poor-quality blend. However, it can impact how positively they perceive it and their enjoyment of the drinking experience.

The choice of takeaway coffee cup material and design can help form an impression of the coffee that outlives it. This is something that may prompt a customer to try the same coffee again or visit the shop for another taste.

Takeaway cup weight and coffee flavour perception

A 2021 study reveals the weight of a takeaway cup can impact the taste and price perception of a coffee.

The study sought out individuals who had ordered takeaway coffee before and had been consuming filter coffee for more than a year.

The researchers served the participants filter coffee in cardboard coffee cups, with certain cups containing hidden weights. 

Researchers found the heavier the cup, the more positively the coffee’s density and smell were perceived. It also made the coffee seem more expensive to those drinking it.

Previous studies on the relationship between weight and quality perception support this finding. A 2017 study found a higher weight for products consumed directly from packaging, such as coffee, may increase sales volumes.

While heavier packaging may come at a higher cost, the study found this can be balanced or eliminated by customers’ increased willingness to pay for something of a higher quality.

An image of a recyclable takeaway coffee cup made from kraft paper with a ripple wall takeaway coffee cup sleeve in an article on How takeaway cup weight alters customer coffee flavour perception

Additional benefits of heavier takeaway cups

Offering customers takeaway coffee cups that are unlikely to fall over or spill may encourage them to make repeat purchases, increasing customer loyalty.

“The raw material of a heavier cup will often be thicker,” Rachel explains. “With paper cups, for instance, the additional thickness will improve the function of heat insulation.

“With a thicker cup, the texture will also be better when the cup is held, and the stability of the cup will be stronger,” she adds. 

This is especially important in today’s market, where customers often expect coffee shops and restaurants to provide them with sustainable cups as a default choice. 

While plastic cups are less popular due to their negative environmental impact, they tend to be stronger and sturdier than many paper ones.

Having a heavier, and therefore thicker, takeaway paper cup can assure customers it will safely contain their drink while remaining comfortable enough to hold. 

Heavier cups can also create the perception that your coffee is high-end and exclusive. In turn, this can help justify any price increases that have to be introduced due to rising inflation across Europe and other coffee-drinking markets.

“Heavier cups offer a better experience because of their better quality,” Rachel says.  

“A high-end product always comes with high-end packaging.

“The packaging shows the strength of the brand,” she adds. “Customers will also evaluate the strength of a brand from the packaging. 

Packaging can play a key role in how your coffee is perceived. 

With 2023 still in its initial months, there has never been a better time to reevaluate your choice of takeaway coffee cups and optimise it to help your business goals.

At MTPak Coffee, we can provide roasters and cafe owners with sustainable takeaway coffee cups made from renewable materials such as recycled kraft paper with an environmentally-friendly PLA lining.

Strong and lightweight, our range of cups is the ideal choice for roasters and coffee shops looking to reduce the impact on the environment and communicate their commitment towards sustainability.

Our range includes double or single wall cups, compostable takeaway coffee cups, as well as coffee cup sleeves.

Our recyclable takeaway coffee cups are available in five different sizes: 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz.

We can also help you fully customise your takeaway coffee cups or coffee cup sleeves with details of your business, allowing you to communicate the cup’s recycling qualities to customers.

We only use innovative and eco-friendly digital printing technology with sustainable, water-based inks that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

This means that while they are highly resistant to abrasion, water, and heat, they are also compostable and easy to remove for recycling.

Furthermore, we offer a range of low minimum order quantity (MOQ) options, allowing you to order as little as 500 fully customised units in just five working days.

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

For more information on recyclable takeaway coffee cups, contact our team. 

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