A Zero Waste Guide to Reusable Coffee Cups

A Zero Waste Guide to Reusable Coffee Cups

Is a reusable coffee cup a zero waste essential? Well, that depends on your perspective. Do you think that coffee is a life essential? ;)

Seriously, whether you personally think so or not, the fact is that over 500 billion disposable coffee cups are produced every year. Which clearly shows that plenty of people do think coffee is a life necessity.

Reusable coffee cups are the obvious solution if we are to do something to stem this tide of disposables heading to landfill (or worse) every year.

Use a reusable just 15 times and the environment wins. (Hocking’s 1994 lifecycle energy analysis found that ceramic cups needed to be used 39 times, plastic cups 17 times, and glass cups 15 times before they became equally energy efficient to plastic-lined paper cups.)

Bear in mind that a reusable, looked after, will last for many years.

The message that these cups send is just as (maybe more) important than the vessels themselves. It’s about showing the solution. Demonstrating to the public that there is an alternative. Showing others that there are people (us!) who care about this issue, and are doing something about it.

Making reusables a little more socially acceptable, and single-use disposables a little less so. Changing the story about convenience.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of some of the best reusable coffee cup brands that I could find. Companies that not only make great reusables, but that care about the impact single-use items have on the planet.

(This is not a sponsored post. None of these brands have paid to be featured.)

Choosing Reusables: Coffee Cups

All brands listed below make cups that are barista standard. This means they hold the same volume as standardised disposable takeaway cups, and fit underneath a coffee machine.

Most reusable takeaway cups do have a small element of plastic or silicone, because they need a sealable lid and a band to protect the fingers from burns. Their primary purpose is takeaway, after all.

I’ve listed brand websites below, but if you’re looking for a local store to make a purchase from, I have a worldwide list of local online zero waste stores. Please try to support a local independent business, if you can. The big department stores and Amazon really don’t need our money, and these small businesses do.

7 Reusable Zero Waste Coffee Cup Brands I Recommend

1. KeepCup

KeepCup is possibly the original reusable cup brand, and if not the first, definitely the most well known.

KeepCup began in 2009, and are now sold in 65 countries around the world. KeepCup ship from Australia, the UK and the USA.

Their cups are available in both plastic and glass. All cups have a plastic lid (plastic #4, LDPE) which is hard and rigid, with a plastic plug (a polyethylene polymer called TPU). The bands are made of silicone.

Their plastic cups (plastic #5, or polypropylene – considered to be the best food grade plastic with thermal stability) come in 5 sizes: 4oz (the ideal size for a babycino), 6oz, 8oz, 12oz and 16oz. Their glass cups come in 3 sizes: 8oz, 12oz and 16oz. Additionally, they offer a glass “LongPlay” booster for the 12oz and 16oz sizes which creates a double-walled vessel to keep hot drinks hot (and cold drinks cold) for longer.

Their KeepCup Brew edition features a glass cup (8oz, 12oz or 16oz) with a cork band, making it their least plastic option.

W: https://keepcup.com

2. JOCO Cup

JOCO cups were the first company to produce a barista standard glass coffee cup. The glass cups come in 3 sizes: 8oz, 12oz and 16oz. The lid is made of silicone, which makes it soft and rubbery. The band is also made of silicone.

JOCO cups are distributed worldwide, and ship from Australia and the USA.

W: https://jococups.com

3. La Bontazza

La Bontazza is another Australian company (influenced by Italian style) that produces reusable glass coffee cups with silicone lids and bands. La Bontazza are the only company I’ve found that make a small 4oz reusable coffee cup in glass – perfect for short macchiato drinkers, espresso drinkers and babycino drinkers (who are old enough to handle a glass cup).

Their three cup sizes are 4oz, 8oz and 12oz.

W: http://www.labontazza.com

4. Planet Cups by Pottery for the Planet

Planet Cups are handmade pottery cups fitted with a silicone lid, and with an optional silicone band. They are available in 3 sizes: 6 oz, 8oz and 12oz. Every single cup is unique, being made by Renton Bishopric ceramics in their Queensland studio.

The cups are not currently sold via their website, but stockists can be found via their social media channels.

W: http://www.rentonbishopric.com

5. Cupit by Kahla

Kahla is a German ceramics manufacturer who produces Cupit, a range of white ceramic reusable coffee cups in three sizes: 8oz, 12oz and 16oz. The lid is available to purchase separate from the cup. Both the cups and the lids are made in Germany.

The ceramic cups have a silicone foot at the base, making them non slip. The lid is plastic, and the band that wraps around the cup is fixed and cannot be removed. The cups are slightly heavier than a glass reusable coffee cup, and are very sturdy.

W: http://en.kahlaporzellan.com

6. Klean Kanteen

Klean Kanteen produce insulated stainless steel tumblers with a plastic tumbler lid in 3 sizes: 8oz, 16oz and 20oz. The tumbler lid is designed for transporting liquids (although it is not leak proof) but is not designed for drinking through.

W: https://www.kleankanteen.com

7. Ecojarz

For anyone who doesn’t drink takeaway often and doesn’t see the need for a purpose-built vessel, Ecojarz offer an alternative: a stainless steel drinking lid with silicone seal that fits your existing wide-mouth mason or canning jars.

They also offer hot drink holders and silicone bands.

W: http://ecojarz.com

Of course, I realise that reusable coffee cups aren’t for everybody. (Is anything?!) You may not be a daily takeaway coffee drinker. But I’ve no doubt that you know someone who is. The public’s perception of plastic bags has shifted, plastic pollution awareness is rising, and tackling disposable coffee cups seem the next logical step.

Reusable coffee cups are a great and practical solution.

Let’s get the conversation started. Bring on the reuse revolution. 

Now I’d love to hear from you! Do you use a reusable coffee cup? Do you use one of these brands listed or an alternative I haven’t mentioned? Do you make do with a DIY approach? Do you think reusable coffee cups are a load of nonsense? Any other thoughts to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

26 Responses to A Zero Waste Guide to Reusable Coffee Cups

  1. Interesting post. I bought a glass KeepCup but the silicone band got too hot to hold, and also was too narrow to get a proper grip without my fingers touching the even hotter glass. I then bought a Pokito cup. OK, it’s a sort of plastic, but it will last for years, collapses when not in use so it’s easy to carry, is comfortable to hold and has a heat-proof foot so that I can hold it in one hand and rest it on the other if I want to. It’s not pretty, but I love it :)

    • Hello Dee and Lindsay, apart from being gutted that you thought our pokito was not pretty, it was great to hear how much you love it! I’m sure we’d all agree that the most important thing is that you reuse your cups regularly whichever one suits. One of the key reasons we developed pokito was to help “ease the load” if you’re on foot. The lighter, less bulkier it is, the more likely you’ll have it on hand when you need it. Andrew

    • Love both of these Jeanie! Nothingbetter than a reusable that has been reused and reused and reused, and love the oldskool “bring a mug” approach! One of my local cafes accept this too, I’ve seen it happen a few places (but some don’t like it because they want their drinks standard sizes). If this is an option for people, do it! :)

  2. Don’t know the brand of our reusable cups. A local coffee shop has a deal where you buy the cup and get it filled for about a couple of dollars more than a cup of coffee. My wife and were some of the first, and had our photos taken for their Facebook page.

    • And at the end of the day, who cares about brands Darren, so long as they do the job?! ;) I do like it when coffee shops sell their own cups and offer a free refill or cheap refill the first time you use it. Plus love that you were reusable cup ‘slebrities’!

  3. My partner and I have been using stainless steel Avanti double walled coffee mugs daily for over 20 years. They don’t have lids but if we don’t lose them they will outlast us.

  4. Years ago I bought a thermos two cups by emsa ( https://www.emsa.com/en/products/mobile-enjoyment/thermo-mugs/ ) which are pferfect. I can throw the filled cups into my bag without any fear of spilling. And the contents keep hot.
    Recently I got a bambooCup, coz it’s so pretty… and weighs much less than glass, of cousre. Not isolated and not to be securely closed, can only be used like paper-plastic-togo-cups. Of which I’ve never used one for years – and I drink a lot of coffee to go.

      • There are some shops that can fill the thermos, but yea, some can’t. Another reason for the BambooCup. <3
        I even used it just for getting coffee which I then poured into the thermos. I am an addict… I love coffee — and cups, too, =)

    • Thanks for sharing, Vetch! I haven’t bought me a cup yet because I wan’t it to be 100% spillproof. Now, I will order me an emsa-cup.
      Greetings from Finland!
      Frieda

  5. I’m surprised you don’t have Contigo on your list – New York City is swarming with them. I was a hard sell because I loved my ceramic cup, but Contigo is so light, doesn’t leak (you can throw it in your purse completely full), and keeps liquids hot or cold for hours. It’s amazing.

  6. We treated ourselves to a Cheeki stainless steel cup. The lscreww on lid seals well and a finger press allows you to drink from all sides. Another press repeals the cup. Great for a one handed husband.

  7. I use a plastic keepcup when I travel on airlines and a Joco for when I’m hanging out at home in Melbourne. I prefer the feel of the Joco but don’t want it confiscated at airport security.

  8. In Finland we usually take proper coffee breaks, but when I started studying at the university a few years back, I suddenly felt the need to buy a reusable coffee cup. The breaks between lessons are so short that when all the 100+ people from your class hurry to line up at the closest cafeteria, the break time often goes standing in that line and you have to take your coffee with you to auditorium. And I’m totally helpless with the disposaple lids, I always make a mess with them!

    I ended up buying my cup from a local store and because of that the choice was basicly between a ceramic cup with a poor lid and a plastic cup with a perfect lid that is spill proof and good for drinking as well. So, I ended up with the plastic one and even though it’s great, I wish I had seen a little more trouble and ordered a glass cup online. If I were to buy one now, I think I’d go for the double-walled KeepCup. Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing wrong with the plastic cup I already have, so I probably won’t have any excuse to buy a new cup for years to come. :D

  9. I have a stojo collapsible cup, but I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with spillage on my clothes, which has put me off a little… the lip is quite chunky to drink from. I’m off to check out the pokita one. (Fortunately I’m usually sitting in a cafe to drink my coffee, so don’t need a portable one all that often. When I do, I need to carry it, hence my need for a collapsible one.)
    Fab blog, by the way. I’ve signed up for your updates and am sharing with my zero-waste facebook group. :-)

  10. The best ‘to go’ cup is a second-hand one! I find an amazing array of cups at my local thrift store. They are cheaper and pull material out of the waste stream.

Share your thoughts!