If you caught my previous article on plastic swaps, you’ll know I am a huge advocate of ditching the disposables. And if you’re a coffee lover, I’m talking to you.
We get through a staggering 8 million disposable coffee cups a day in the UK, the majority of which are not recycled. And our caffeine addiction shows no sign of abating.
One way to limit the environmental damage of your takeaway coffee is to bring your own reusable cup. A lot of chains now, including Pret and Costa, will even give you money off your drink as an incentive.
Convinced? Hurrah! It’s time to choose a cup. I’ve been a KeepCup devotee since I bought myself one last December. (It’s always nice to have at least one Christmas present you know you’ll like, even if you do have to buy it yourself.)
Recently I heard about Ecoffee bamboo coffee cups so I thought I’d give them a go too. Could they persuade me to cheat on my trusty KeepCup?
Why a Reusable KeepCup?
My primary reason for getting a KeepCup was my concern over the environmental damage. Imagine the impact being wrought by millions of single-use, non-recyclable cups. But I’ll be totally honest. They also look really cool.
See?! Adorable. If I’m going to save the world, I may as well look good doing it.
I went for the smaller 8oz size as I’m a flat white addict. Why pay extra for empty space in my cup? The added bonus is it doesn’t look too big in my child-sized hands.
I love that it’s glass as you don’t get that awful cardboardy taste you get with a lot of single-use cups. Its soda lime glass is toughened, but not unbreakable.
I’ve dropped mine a few times and it’s fared pretty well, bar a few tiny scuffs on the lid and band. You can even buy replacements parts, meaning you can repair it rather than buy a whole new one if needed.
The downside of the cork band I went for is that you should wash it up by hand rather than in the dishwasher. The upside is you don’t have to hold an uncomfortably hot cup – something I used to hate about takeaway cups. Even better, it’s made from waste materials from wine cork manufacturing!
Though compact, it’s quite heavy, but that’s the only negative in my eyes. It’s a tad on the pricey side, ranging from £19-21 depending on size. That said, you get what you pay for. Apply the fashion principle of ‘price per wear’ and you’ve got a solid investment.
Bamboo Coffee Cup On Trial
The bamboo coffee cup I trialled was an Ecoffee Cup from Surfers Against Sewage. SAS is a great cause. Their mission is “galvanising communities and inspiring people to protect our beautiful coastlines”.
On first inspection I was wary – but just because my cup was bright blue. My eyes weren’t ready for that much colour before coffee.
It’s super lightweight which is great for lugging around town. The cup fits 400ml of liquid; perfect for a longer coffee like an americano or a cappuccino.
It’s cheaper than a KeepCup, ringing in at £12. The only drawback for me was the feel of it. It almost felt a bit papery to drink from. That could just be personal preference though.
I haven’t tested its durability yet, but I worry it might be a bit flimsy for me. I have an uncanny knack for trashing headphones, wine glasses and any other delicate objects in my vicinity.
Are Bamboo Cups Safe?
The cup itself is made from, you guessed it, a naturally organic and sterile bamboo fibre. Plus it’s free from BPA, phthalates and petrochemical plastics.
However, a word of warning, most bamboo cups contain a melamine resin which contains formaldehyde. Melamine dishware is generally considered safe but the toxins (and very nasty ones) can leach into food and drink under high temperatures (from 160° F).
Melamine aside, bamboo is an extremely sustainable plant, needs no pesticides, and grows insanely fast in warm climates. It’s relatively light and thus has a lower transport footprint than many other materials.
The manufacturing process claims to use minimal energy and CO2. If you ever decide you don’t want it anymore, you can compost the cup, and recycle the lid and band.
Most bamboo coffee cups can be put in the dishwasher, however due to the melamine PLEASE DO NOT PUT A BAMBOO CUP in a microwave. Always check the label/packaging of any specific cup to be sure.
Reusable Bamboo Coffee Cup vs. KeepCup: Winner Takes It All
Have you picked a favourite yet?
Maybe I’m a creature of habit, but for me it’s still my trusty KeepCup. I’m a sucker for a stylish product, and it’s perfectly sized for my flat white obsession.
But if you’re after something lightweight for a longer drink, the Ecoffee bamboo coffee cup should definitely be your first port of call.
Contests aside, the most important thing is just to get a reusable cup and actually use it. For the planet, and interestingly, for great service.
The best and most unexpected side effect of bringing my distinctive cup in each day was that I became an instant regular. The baristas at my local café clock my cup before they recognise my face. This means I’m always met with a cheery “Flat white to go?”
For a lot of us, the less talking we have to do pre-coffee, the better. Personally I think that’s a great reason to splash out on an eco-friendly cup.
And once you’ve decided on your favourite reusable coffee cup why not go one step further and consider other zero waste swaps that you could make?