What information belongs on branded takeaway coffee cups 

Tori Taylor
June 3, 2024
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According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), an independent coffee shop can sell between 200 and 300 cups per day. A large chain coffee shop can sell an astounding 700 cups of coffee per day. For businesses with branded takeaway coffee cups, this can mean an incredible amount of free advertising. 

Branded takeaway coffee cups act as free-walking billboards or advertisements for any coffee business. They can help bring in new customers and sell more coffee. A consistent brand style and colour palette across coffee bags and takeaway cups can ensure consumers recognise a product. In turn, this can increase repeat sales and boost profit margins.

Custom coffee bags often serve as a platform for sharing critical consumer information, such as roast dates, flavour notes, and recycling symbols. However, the potential of disposable cups as an information-sharing tool is often overlooked, with most cups displaying minimal information beyond a brand name or logo. By using this untapped potential, you can empower your consumers with more information and enhance their coffee experience.  

Should more information, such as materials or disposal methods, be conveyed on branded takeaway coffee cups? Could this information help reduce the number of sustainable coffee cups that end up in landfills? 

To learn more, I spoke to the owner and CEO of  Spring Valley Coffee, Ritesh Doshi.

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Essential information on branded takeaway coffee cups

As mentioned, custom coffee bags will often showcase information such as recycling symbols, flavour notes, a roast date, and perhaps brewing instructions or a brand story. Takeaway coffee cups, however, are often overlooked, which can have disastrous consequences for brands. 

A prime example is the infamous Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants lawsuit. Stella Liebeck became a household name in 1994 when she won a significant judgement against the restaurant. This was after she received severe burns to her lap when the 180-degree coffee she was holding spilled and soaked her clothing, becoming trapped against her skin. 

In later interviews, Stella says she never would have filed this lawsuit if McDonald’s “hadn’t dismissed her request for compensation for pain and medical bills with an offer of $800.” However, a suit was brought forward, alleging that the coffee Stella purchased was defective because of its excessive heat and because of inadequate warnings. 

Many people don’t recognise that the temperature at which coffee is brewed and served can be hot enough to scald within seconds. Along with other safe handling practices, warning labels arose as part of any robust and sensible safety plan to prevent spills and burns like the ones Stella suffered. 

It has become essential for both branded takeaway coffee cups and lids to showcase a warning that reads: “Caution: Contents Hot.” While it may seem pointless, the warning exists to protect both consumers and your brand. Notably, flaws in how a product is marketed, such as improper labeling, insufficient instructions, misrepresentation, or lack of adequate warnings, can make a manufacturer liable

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Branded takeaway coffee cups: Disposal information is essential

A lack of recycling habits and waste management practices around the world means the majority of the 500 billion takeaway coffee cups used each year are discarded as litter. This has led to increased consumer demand for sustainable materials to replace plastic packaging. As of January 2023, the percentage of consumers demanding eco-friendly materials has risen to 81%.

Everything from the type of materials used to create coffee bags and takeaway cups to the artistic appeal of their design can mirror a brand’s identity and business goals. For instance, the majority of takeaway coffee cups are now made from sustainable materials that are recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable. These sustainable cups appeal to a growing number of eco-conscious consumers and help the brand reduce its carbon footprint.  

By displaying information about your sustainability efforts on branded takeaway coffee cups, you are not just promoting your brand but also educating consumers about the importance of eco-conscious practices. This can make them more aware and responsible, contributing to a greener future. 

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,” he adds. “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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Which certifications do you need for your branded takeaway coffee cups?

Sustainability certifications are important for all those in the coffee supply chain. They lead to greater transparency and are highly effective in communicating a genuine commitment to sustainability. The symbols printed on coffee bags and takeaway coffee cups help to instruct end-consumers about the materials correct disposal, helping to minimise waste and carbon emissions. 

Read more about certifications for branded coffee cups here

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 different sizes, including 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.

For more information, contact our team

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Tori Taylor
Tori Taylor

Victoria is a highly experienced content creator, writer, and editor based out of South Africa. With the experience gained by working in newsrooms and writing for lifestyle magazines, she is now focussed on creating insightful and relatable content for the specialty coffee community.

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