Custom coffee cups & social media: A marketing match made in heaven

Maira Kanai-Nasir
May 3, 2024
custom coffee cups, custom printed coffee cups, coffee cups, takeaway coffee cups, to go cups, disposable coffee cups, Toro Coffee Roasters

According to a report by the World Coffee Portal, China overtook the US as the largest branded coffee shop market after growing by 58% in 2023. This growth has been driven by prominent brands such as Starbucks, alongside the expansion of small, delivery-focused coffee chains.

The opening of 49,691 outlets in China alone has obviously created an exceptionally competitive market–one in which brands must find ways to stand out. Custom coffee cups have become a powerful and cost-effective way to do so–in any competitive marketplace, in China and beyond. 

In today’s digital world, an innovative custom coffee cup can encourage consumers to share a picture online. With over two billion active users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. Recent statistics show that the average Instagram user spends 12 hours per month scrolling through the app. Beyond this, half a billion users watch Instagram Stories daily, which often feature advertisements. 

This means a strong online presence can introduce your brand to a wider range of new customers. I spoke to Ettienne Broodryk, the founder of Toro Coffee Roasters about increasing consumer recognition through custom coffee cups and social media. 

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Learning to leverage custom coffee cups on social media 

Takeaway cups are a necessary expenditure for almost all coffee shops. Customising these can be a cost-effective way to promote a brand. All in all, this is an essential value-driven advertising channel that can increase brand awareness and sales. 

Ettienne explains that having your brand name on custom coffee cups is a must. “It’s the only way you can get brand recognition once the person leaves your shop.” He adds that Toro Coffee often participates in several pop-up events, and thanks to custom-printed coffee cups, “people easily recognise our branding”. 

When Toro launched in 2015, the brand only had a handful of shops in the area. Now, Ettienne says that there are about 20 outlets, and explains that brand awareness through social media has been a key part of their growth. 

Beyond this, custom printed coffee cups that feature innovative, out-of-the-box designs and illustrations easily attract consumers’ attention. They may also encourage these customers to share images of the cup on social media. 

Ultimately, these platforms can help a brand build a loyal customer base that genuinely engages with your brand. By consistently posting branded content and engaging with users who interact with the page, businesses can advertise in a way that feels authentic, sincere, and personal.

custom coffee cups, custom printed coffee cups, coffee cups, takeaway coffee cups, to go cups, disposable coffee cups, Toro Coffee Roasters

Adapting designs to entice your target audience 

To Ettienne, customisation has always been important for Toro Coffee. As a new, small business, the brand started by adding stickers to its takeaway coffee cups. “From the beginning, I wanted to ensure that we made our mark on the coffee cups in some shape or form,” he says. 

While he firmly believes the quality of coffee at Toro speaks for itself, he clarifies by saying: “It’s one thing to say you have a good product, but if it doesn’t get shared, what good will it be?” 

With competition among coffee shops increasing, Ettienne insists that “there needs to be something that showcases your brand” to a broader audience.  

The brand uses its Instagram account to showcase its custom coffee cups, roasted offerings, and the versatility of its many cafes. Ettienne’s wife, Marlouise, manages this page, ensuring each image has the same aesthetic. 

“We didn’t understand how powerful social media could be,” Ettienne admits. “Now, I want people to come in and taste Toro Coffee because [our brand is exactly] what you see online.”

Toro Coffee Roasters is based in an area predominantly populated by university students. He admits that he had to consider keeping “up with the trends while researching how I wanted to customise our cups”. 

As the majority of Toro’s customer base consists of Gen Z consumers, the customisation of its cups is simple yet effective: the brand’s logo on a solid background. “We didn’t want to set a standard that we are stuck with one design or colour. If you look at university students, every season [something changes], so we need to stay relevant,” he says.

He explains that the brand is switching to green cups for the next season and is ready to adapt to any emerging trends. Ettienne also emphasises the importance of continuously improving and investing in custom designs rather than just ticking them off a list. 

custom coffee cups, custom printed coffee cups, coffee cups, takeaway coffee cups, to go cups, disposable coffee cups, Toro Coffee Roasters

Custom printed coffee cups: Essential factors to consider 

A critical factor of customisation is research. Today’s takeaway coffee cups are made from a variety of materials, each of which can influence the way consumers perceive your brand. Ideally, disposable cups must be durable, high-quality, and sustainable to lower the direct impact they can have on the environment. 

Minimising environmental effects means choosing the least problematic single-use cup alternative. This makes it all the more critical for brands to choose a sustainable coffee cup that is best suited to their region’s waste management infrastructure and customer behaviour. 

Toro Coffee made the shift towards compostable coffee cups in 2018 by removing the stickers. The brand began printing directly on the cups, and Ettienne gained a better understanding of the local recycling and composting capabilities. He discovered that recyclable options were the best fit, and the brand made the appropriate change. Beyond this, Toro Coffee works with fellow community members to ensure its takeaway coffee cups are recycled through collection. 

At MTPak Coffee, our sustainable coffee cups are made from recyclable materials such as PET, bamboo fibre, and kraft paper. Our to-go cups can be coated with an environmentally friendly polylactic acid (PLA) or aqueous lining, making them durable and waterproof. Additionally, our sustainable coffee cups are available in the following sizes: 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz. 

Images courtesy of Toro Coffee Roasters

Talk to our team about customising your takeaway coffee cups today. 

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Maira Kanai-Nasir
Maira Kanai-Nasir

Discovering specialty coffee whilst working in Australia, Maira has previously worked in Specialty Coffee as a trainer and coffee product buyer for many years. She currently resides in Dubai, UAE working as a specialty coffee writer, with a strong passion for all things coffee.

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