KeepCup, which is basically a plastic cup

The idea behind the KeepCup is so simple that it at first seems pointless: it's a reusable to-go cup, designed specifically for coffee. But the novelty is its height: small enough to fit under the nozzle of a barista's espresso machine, while larger, taller to-go cups have to be filled by coffee poured from the paper cups in which it was made, defeating the whole point. I mean, whatever, right? It's just a short plastic cup. But if you use it every day, perhaps eventually the energy expenditure in producing the KeepCup will be less than that used to produce the paper disposables. One cute tip: Coffee variants are embossed on a silicone band around the outside of the cup, making it possible for you to highlight your preference with a permanent marker. Would you like to buy one? Okay, well, you can't. Not yet. But you can sign up on their site to get information when the first production run is complete; the first wave should hit in June. And it might help if you're in Australia. That's where the company is based. [via Graham Readfearn/Courier Mail]
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28 Responses to KeepCup, which is basically a plastic cup

  1. Anonymous says:

    The shop where I work has a tall Cimbali machine (also called a “big gulp” by some) that allows for use of larger cups directly under the spouts. It has a little pull-out tray for little cups, too.

    @IVAN256: At what point would their cup be coming in contact with anything you’ll be drinking? Do they dip the cup into the coffee to serve it where you live?

  2. bp says:


    I pretty much don’t even like gadgets, but I started reading this blog after catching some of Joel’s clever and funny posts over at the other site. I’ve grown to enjoy much of the content posted here, from all of the contributors, but Joel’s posts, although they can sometimes be a little too clever, are generally the highlight of every visit.


    That’s part of the appeal, at least, for me it is.

  3. Anonymous says:

    #14 – the total energy life cycle analysis I recall reading showed the ratio for a ceramic cup + saucer (the study was from some civilized nation, like Denmark), washed after each use, to be ~100x a paper cup. Also included were production, transport, and disposal costs. So, use your paper cup twice…

  4. AntonMours says:

    I think some of the comments here are absolutely on point. Polypropelene – which is what this cup is made out of, might as well be plastic. It is so oil intensive and energy burning in just it’s manufacturing process alone that you’re not making ANY difference to the environment by purchasing it. Also it looks like a baby bottle, I wouldn’t want to walk around the CBD looking like a tool with a bottle. Overall, this is just another example of greenwashing, a product made of oil based resources that looks ugly and masks itself as a ‘solution’ to a serious problem…

  5. AntonMours says:

    I like how Joel has written that the idea is ‘so simple that it at first seems pointless’. I think for anybody who understands that this is essentially plastic (great comment above) this thing seems at first and at last, pointless.

  6. Anon says:

    Re the benefits of this cup versus others (I have no connection to this company, but wanted to chime in as most people seem to be negative towards these cups):
    1. It’s more insulated than paper.
    2. It’s microwavable, unlike metal.
    3. The plastic is recyclable. Paper cups usually are not. They have a coating on them to make them water-resistant that makes them hard to recycle.
    4. Including the energy needed to manufacture and wash, 20 times to make it more energy efficient than using paper cups. You have to use a metal cup about 1000 times to do the same.
    5. When closed it’s splash-proof, unlike the cheap plastic disposable cups and, actually, several of my metal cup lids.

    I’m not saying there aren’t problems with the cups, I just think there are definitely some beneifts, too.

  7. Futurist says:

    There are tiny metal pitchers – like miniature creamers – that nice coffee places will brew espresso into if it’s intended to be used in a milk-filled drink.

  8. deanbpm says:

    I read somewhere that it would take 100,000 disposable cups to match the energy used in the manufacture of one ceramic mug.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I do like this eco-friendly design, but have you heard about the trendy new coffee lids that have designated areas to hold your creamer and sugar is after a coffee run??

  10. dculberson says:

    Well, I’ve got the metal pitchers myself, but I don’t use them for the espresso because transferring it from one container to another tends to leave the crema behind.

  11. retchdog says:

    At least in NYC, this use violates health regulations, or so I’ve been told by a bitter and ranty coffeeshop owner.

  12. aj says:

    huh? Normally they use the little pitcher things when making espresso.

  13. Enochrewt says:

    Short cups are also useful when you have a cup holder in your car with low clearance. It drives me nutty that a 20oz cup just barely fits in there.

  14. swag says:

    Better idea: stop ordering to-go coffee so that it doesn’t taste like plastic.

  15. zeepoli says:

    another one of those things that seem eco friendly but in fact is just bad all around.

    someone is trying to make money off of the “green” trend.

    1. the thing is made of plastic!
    2. you’re putting hot liquids in there – coffee – horrible idea – hard to get off taste and germs.

    3. there are plenty of little cups like these already on the market made of metal (granted with plastic lids)

    i’ve been bringing my own mug to the coffee shop – and it is NOT illegal to bring your own mug in NYC – it IS illegal for a coffee shop that does not have a special dishwasher to store mugs for you – they have to have a dishwasher that can reach a certain temperature i believe to kill germs.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I do not understand this at all. In ever coffee shop I’ve been to in the last… five years at least… they make shots directly into little ceramic cups or shot glasses. Then they mix that with milk steamed in a reusable metal pitcher, and then pour the two together into a to-go cup. So, if you bring in your own metal or plastic to-go thing, there’s no paper used at any point in the process.

    Is this particular to Portland? Are there places where they use some sort of paper cup before they pour it into your reusable to-go container? That seems insane.

  17. Nelson.C says:

    On the other hand, paper is a renewable resource, whereas plastic isn’t.

  18. dculberson says:

    AJ, they usually brew the espresso into a cup. The pitcher things are for steaming milk, which is typically for a cappuccino. I’ve never seen someone at a coffee shop make espresso into the pitcher.

  19. Roast Beef says:

    1. This is for brewing espresso. This is for steaming milk.

    2. What everybody has said about the plastic+heat concerns. I’ll keep my secondhand metal cup, thx.

    3. I heart Joel Johnson’s posts–his conversational style is a feature, not a bug.

  20. DSMVWL THS says:

    This may have some ecological merit. But I’m a bit leery of hot foods and beverages in plastic containers.

    Why not a metal or ceramic cup — maybe with a plastic lid?

  21. Michiel says:

    Maybe I’ve only noticed recently and it’s always been this way, but lately I’ve been thorougly enjoying your posts, Joel.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why not just bring a mug? Not even a special mug, just a mug. Or other container of your choice.

    The point about the higher embodied energy/footprint of ceramic mugs is well made (if not necessarily perfectl calculated), _but_ most people have plenty of legacy ceramics. IOW, the mugs already in your cupboard have been created already, so they don’t have an additional cost/impact.

  23. Anonymous says:

    weird. i bring my own (metal) 16 oz mug to every coffeeshop i go to and the mug’s height is never an issue. they use shot glasses for the espresso and a metal pitcher for the steamed milk (though is usually get iced drinks), and then they pour it into my mug.

    @19 … i’m not sure i get how this could be unsanitary.

    also, my mug has a carabiner hook and therefore is always attached to my backpack and i never forget/lose it. i’ve been using the same mug every day for two years.

    i also printed out a label for my mug with the name of my drink of choice, so that larger coffeeshops (who have separate people who take orders vs make drinks) don’t even have to waste any post-it notes when handing off my drink.

  24. zikman says:

    @2 I thought this post seemed kinda weird. I mean, I did enjoy it. don’t get me wrong
    it just seemed kinda oddly worded or strung together or something.

  25. ivan256 says:

    I certainly wouldn’t buy coffee from anywhere that allows the use of these. At least not without sanitizing them first.

    I have no desire to share herpes/influenza/rhinovirus with people, no matter what the environmental impact might be.

    You have to draw the line somewhere.

  26. the_boy says:

    that was the cock-blockiest gadget review ever. Doubleplusgood

  27. Anonymous says:

    Completely agree with comments above. Just stop having take away coffees! this thing is an oil based product as well, great way to replace one dependency with 3 others.

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