Coffee cup design: Knowing when to keep it simple

Tori Taylor
August 25, 2023
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For both cafés and roasters, takeaway coffee cups can be one of the most important branding spaces. However, it is often overlooked. A branded cup is essentially a free, walking advertisement for any coffee business – one that can help bring in new customers and sell more coffee.

That said, when it comes to the design of takeaway cups, there are several factors to consider. For instance, studies suggest that too many design elements can be off-putting for consumers. An overcrowded design may overwhelm consumers and deter their attention from the primary brand messaging.

No matter how attractive the design is, it will be difficult for consumers to interpret without enough space. Minimalism in takeaway coffee cup design often goes a long way, as it gets the message across in the simplest way, making it easier for consumers to digest. 

One specialty coffee brand that is particularly effective at keeping its takeaway cup design simple and effective is Spring Valley Coffee. To learn more, I spoke with the owner and CEO, Ritesh Doshi

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Why the design of your takeaway coffee cups is so important

Originally, takeaway cups were viewed solely as a way of carrying beverages. Now, they have become an art form, an essential marketing tool, and a way to build brand identity. As specialty coffee has become increasingly popular, cafés have transformed into social hubs that exude creativity. It was only a matter of time before coffee businesses turned their attention to the design of their takeaway cups to reflect this individuality.

Many consumers now see their favourite café as a reflection of their own look and lifestyle. As a result, cafés and specialty coffee roasters are building brands around consumer interests to create a memorable experience and increase demand.

Art and design have become major factors in branding and marketing. Everything from the type of materials used to create the cups to the artistic appeal of their design can mirror a brand’s identity and business goals.

Simply put, an eye-catching takeaway coffee cup can help build consumer trust and brand memorability. 

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Knowing when to keep takeaway cup design simple

Generating free advertising can be challenging. Therefore, custom-printed takeaway cups can be a highly effective way to get a brand noticed. However, when too many design elements are crammed into a small space, customers may miss out on key information, such as the brand name, location, or contact details. 

Beyond this, irrelevant design results in unnecessary costs. 

Spring Valley Coffee, nestled in the heart of Kenya, Nairobi, uses recyclable paper cups paired with black lock-back sipper lids made from LDPE. The design is simple, stark, and incredibly aesthetic. Black illustrations of a bird holding a leaf in its beak are perfectly spread across the cup, as well as depictions of stars and the brand logo. 

The use of white, or empty space, across the design creates a balanced aesthetic. Beyond this, the neutral contrast provided by the white space perfectly complements the practical design and helps the brand pop. By using two colours to create the design, Spring Valley Coffee has also ensured the cups can be recycled easily

“We’ve always been acutely aware of the environmental impact of our business,” Ritesh explains. “From the roasting process to the packaging we use – not to mention the single-use cups our customers use almost daily.

“One of our core values is to ‘do the right thing, for coffee and the environment’. This means our business has a long-term mindset. We have a deep sense of responsibility to protect our environment and we want to be a force for good as we grow our business.” 

Spring Valley Coffee also actively encourages the use of reusable cups, and since 2019, offers KeepCups in all its cafés. “We’re aware that some customers may not have their own reusable cups, or prefer single-use cups. So, we plant a seedling through Seedballs Kenya for every disposable cup used,” Ritesh explains.  

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Making your coffee business a force for good

Today, recyclable and compostable materials are the go-to choice for roasters and cafés. These materials are kinder to the environment and appeal to eco-conscious consumers. A recent study by Deloitte shows that 28% of consumers have stopped buying certain products due to ethical or environmental concerns.

Ritesh and the team at Spring Valley are actively making the transition to more sustainable packaging across the entire business. Currently, the brand uses customised LDPE coffee bags as they can be recycled. 

“We’ve always had the intention to move to packaging that is more sustainable,” Ritesh explains. “Admittedly, it has taken longer than we would like, and has taken more missteps than we would have wanted, but each has been a lesson learnt in getting us to where we are today.” In addition to planting a seedling for every disposable cup, Spring Valley also plants one for every non-sustainable bag it uses. 

Beyond this, the brand is in the process of working with a local plant nursery. Ritesh explains they intend to offer used single-use cups for the nursery to use as propagation stations. Additionally, the brand is piloting a no single-use cup policy. 

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 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, 22 oz, and 24 oz.

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.

Photo credits: Spring Valley Coffee

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

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