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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!