Are there benefits to serving sit-in customers in takeaway coffee cups? 

Janice Kanniah
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February 24, 2023
An image of a barista in coffee shop serving sit in customers in takeaway coffee cups in an article about serving sit-in customers in takeaway coffee cups

The Covid-19 pandemic saw millions of consumers switch from reusable cups and sit-down orders to drive-thru and takeaway coffees. 

As countries lift restrictions on social distancing, customers are flocking back to cafés to enjoy coffee in person.

Notably, in-store coffee shop sales across the UK are rebounding and many are experiencing strong sales and growth. Increased remote working, a desire for community gatherings, and coffee remaining a relatively affordable luxury has contributed to these increases.

As a coffee shop owner, you might already be experiencing increased foot traffic and in-person sales. If you heavily invested in takeaway cups during the pandemic, you may wonder if it is worth retaining them or switching back to focusing on in-store offerings.

Here is how you could benefit from making takeaway cups a coffee shop staple — even when serving sit-in customers.

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Why use takeaway coffee cups for sit-down customers?

Perception is powerful. Nowhere was this more apparent than looking at how consumers changed their views on cups during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Prior to the pandemic, coffee shops around the world often offered discounts for customers who brought in their own cups. This was in a bid to reduce the waste created by single-use cups. 

However, research shows reusable cups typically make up less than 5% of sales. Notably, many find reusable cups inconvenient, as consumers must carry them around all day, and wash it between uses.

What’s more, it can take between 20 and 100 uses for a reusable cup to offset its greenhouse gas emissions compared to disposable cups. This is due to the amount of energy and materials required to produce the cup, and the hot water needed to wash them.

Furthermore, studies reveal that while over two-thirds of surveyed Britons have a reusable cup, only a fraction remember to use it.

More so, those surveyed stated they were uncomfortable asking a coffee shop to wash a reusable cup for them.

With the arrival of Covid-19, few knew how it spread and so reusable coffee cups quickly fell out of favour due to hygiene concerns. 

Many coffee shops, restaurants, and roastery switched back to offering disposable takeaway coffee cups. 

For many establishments, ceramic and glass coffee cups have traditionally been a superior choice compared to single-use vessels. However, as the design and materials used to make takeaway cups have become more sophisticated, this perception has changed.

For one, a typical coffee mug only holds around 300 ml. This means coffee shops would need to invest in dozens of different mug sizes to cater to different customer volume preferences.

Another factor is the ease of use. While plastic and stainless steel mugs or cups are affordable and effective at retaining heat, they may impart an unpleasant aftertaste to coffee.

Glass and ceramic cups or mugs do a similarly good job of preserving a drink’s heat. That said, may become too hot to hold, are easy to break, and also weigh more than other cups.

An image of a coffee shop barista pouring filter coffee into compostable kraft paper takeaway coffee cups in an article about serving sit-in customers in takeaway coffee cups

Added advantages of takeaway coffee cups

Serving customers in takeaway cups, even if they sit down to drink their coffee, can offer surprising benefits. 

For instance, it can help save space. Takeaway coffee cups are light and can be stacked during storage. It means even the smallest coffee shop can store them effectively, without having to invest in a larger space.

Takeaway cups can help you conserve water, energy, and money. Washing reusable cups requires hot water, cleaning products, and labour. Takeaway coffee cups require none of this. 

The only water needed is when the cup is rinsed before being placed in the recycling bin – information which can be custom-printed directly on the cup should consumers take it with them. 

Thanks to advances in printing technology, takeaway coffee cups are fully customisable. This allows coffee shops and roasters to issue limited print runs of branded cups.

Therefore, should a coffee business rebrand or want to redesign its takeaway cups according to season, changes can be done quickly and affordably.

An image of kraft paper takeaway coffee cups on an espresso machine in a coffee shop in an article about serving sit-in customers in takeaway coffee cups

Is serving sit-in customers in takeaway coffee cups sustainable?

Advances in the materials used to make disposable takeaway coffee cups mean the option is more sustainable than it was before. 

Coffee businesses can purchase paper cups that perform as well as older versions did while being recyclable or compostable. 

In some instances, coffee shops can also collect used takeaway cups and return them to their manufacturer for responsible processing. 

This prevents them from entering incinerators and landfills, and helps the coffee industry do its part to curb society’s significant waste problem.

Investing in takeaway coffee cups can be an effective option for newly established coffee shops that are still working out demand. Business owners can then invest in permanent cups once demand becomes more predictable. 

It’s also a good option for large establishments where using ceramic or glass mugs is no longer the most practical or cost-effective option.

If you’re ready to start using these types of takeaway cups in your coffee shop, you’ll want to brand them first and get an appropriate range of sizes and finishes. 

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.

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