Should you use customised coffee cups for cold brew? 

Tori Taylor
-
June 10, 2024
customised coffee cups, customised coffee cups for cold brew, coffee cups for cold brew, cold brew, cold brew coffee, cold brew coffee cups, takeaway cold brew coffee, custom printed coffee cups, custom printed cold brew coffee cups, custom printed cups for cold brew coffee,

The global cold brew coffee market, which was valued at $604.47 million in 2023, is projected to skyrocket to $3751.76 million by 2032. This significant growth potential presents a lucrative opportunity for brands to tap into the cold brew coffee trend and expand their product offerings. 

As the cold brew coffee market attracts a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers, it’s crucial for brands to adapt their strategies. Customised coffee cups, when used correctly, can serve as a powerful tool for brand promotion. However, it’s essential to consider the unique materials required for cold brew coffee cups, which differ from those used in traditional takeaway cups. 

So, which takeaway cups are best suited for cold brew coffee, and how can brands customise them to ensure their continued sustainability?

Samson Kibunja, an authorised SCA trainer (AST), and Alan Gilbody, the founder and director of London-based Slice Design, share their thoughts. 

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Sign up

Custom coffee cups for cold brew: Material matters

As the name implies, cold brew coffee is served cold. Preparing cold brew coffee requires steeping coffee grounds in cold water for extended periods. Cold brewing helps to accentuate the varietal and region of the bean and highlight its flavours and nuances. 

Samson, who is also the production manager at Traum Kaffee in Dubai, explains that cold brew coffee is renowned for its unique taste. “The taste of cold brew is smoother and less acidic compared to regular coffee,” he says. “This appeals to folks who don’t enjoy the high acidity of regular coffee. Cold brew is a hit with Millennials and Gen Z, who enjoy trying new food and drinks and care about sustainability and convenience.”

The introduction of recyclable paper cups has certainly helped advance sustainability efforts in the coffee industry. However, they’re not an effective option for cold brew coffee. As with any cold drink, condensation will form along the side of the cup containing cold brew. This happens as water vapour in the air touches the cup, cools down, and collects on the cup in liquid form.

This condensation can cause paper cups to crumple as the material absorbs the water and weakens its structural integrity. In severe cases, the paper cup can become mushy in a consumer’s hands.

Therefore, brands offering cold brew coffee should consider using clear, recyclable plastic cups made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET is a type of clear, strong, lightweight plastic that is 100% recyclable. It is often a preferred material for plastic bottles and other uses because of its sustainability. PET can be recycled into new products repeatedly, reducing the amount of resources wasted. 

customised coffee cups, customised coffee cups for cold brew, coffee cups for cold brew, cold brew, cold brew coffee, cold brew coffee cups, takeaway cold brew coffee, custom printed coffee cups, custom printed cold brew coffee cups, custom printed cups for cold brew coffee,

Which inks are best when customising coffee cups for cold brew?

Slice Design works alongside coffee businesses to help them better understand their target market and cater to their design needs. Owner Alan explains that there is a significant drive towards sustainability and customisation. 

“This is particularly evident for younger consumers who want to feel that the product is made especially for them and with their needs in mind,” he notes. “Younger consumers, particularly Generation Z, are demanding sustainable, biodegradable, and compostable options for packaging formats,” Alan adds. 

“While that may be a trade-off with shelf life, this move best resonates with their values. The brands that will do well are those that best represent the values of the younger generation.”

Essentially, modern consumers expect coffee cups to adequately contain the beverage until it is consumed and to have little impact on the environment once it is disposed of. Therefore, when customising coffee cups for cold brew, the sustainability of the inks used must be considered. 

Environmentally friendly inks are made from renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable resources. The organic compounds are not only renewable but can also be safely disposed of since they quickly degrade and return to nature.

Water-based inks: Often regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly printer inks available, water-based alternatives are made of polyurethanes and hybrid acrylic resins and use water as the primary solvent for carrying solid pigments. That said, it’s important to note that water-based inks are more expensive than other sustainable inks.

Soy or vegetable-based inks: These inks use stable vegetable sources such as canola, China wood, linseed, castor, soy, and safflower. They have good wetting properties and the ability to carry solid pigments. Soy-based inks are one of the most popular choices among vegetable inks because of their high performance, low VOC emissions, and cost-effectiveness. 

Ultraviolet (UV) inks: These options contain monomers and initiators that polymerize into a hard film after exposure to UV light. The inks dry rapidly and emit 99.5% fewer VOCs. Additionally, unlike traditional volatile inks, curable inks do not require extra coatings or protectants.

Algae inks: These use algae cells to make carbon black pigments. This means the inks contain no heavy metals or VOCs. Algae inks are supposed to reduce carbon emissions by up to 200% and have a negative carbon footprint. 

Additionally, brands must ensure the chosen ink will not smudge due to accumulated condensation, compromising the design on the cup. 

customised coffee cups, customised coffee cups for cold brew, coffee cups for cold brew, cold brew, cold brew coffee, cold brew coffee cups, takeaway cold brew coffee, custom printed coffee cups, custom printed cold brew coffee cups, custom printed cups for cold brew coffee,

Which custom coffee cups are best for cold brew?

Currently, PET is one of the only materials that can be processed in a circular way, which makes it the preferred option. However, it is important to remember that a prerequisite for circular recycling is the cups have to be collected in a clean mono stream, which contains no waste or other types of plastic.

Another factor to consider when choosing custom coffee cups for cold brew is how the consumer will consume the beverage. For instance, paper cups were primarily intended for hot drinks, and so they typically come with a lid that has a small opening for the mouthpiece. This is to help keep the drink hot for as long as possible.

However, many consumers prefer to drink cold brew coffee through a straw. This may be down to aesthetics, as well as the psychological enjoyment of drinking a cold drink through a straw on a hot day. Therefore, brands will have to invest in sustainable straws to offer consumers who ask. 

MTPak Coffee provides years of experience and industry knowledge to deliver business owners and roasters with the right disposable coffee cups that are made from high-quality printable materials, but are also kind to the environment. 

Our range of sustainable takeaway cups are made from recyclable materials such as bamboo fibre or kraft paper, as well as recyclable plastic cups made from PET. The interior of our custom printed coffee cup can be coated with environmentally friendly polylactic acid (PLA) or aqueous linings. 

For more information on custom coffee cups, reach out to our team

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Sign up
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.

MTPak recommends