In Some Cafes, To-Go Cups Are To Go

Coffeehouses experimenting with BYO cup policies, rental cups, glass jars
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 24, 2019 9:22 AM CST
In Some Cafes, To-Go Cups Are To Go
In this Dec. 12, 2019 photo, a Blue Bottle Coffee paper to-go cup rests on a table outside one of their cafes in San Francisco. The Oakland-based chain is getting rid of disposable cups at two locations next year, as part of a pledge to go “zero-waste” at its 70 US locations by the end of 2020.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

A new cafe culture is brewing in the San Francisco area, reports the AP, where a growing number of coffee houses are banishing paper to-go cups and replacing them with everything from glass jars to rental mugs and BYO cup policies. What started as a small trend among neighborhood cafes to reduce waste is gaining support from some big names in the city. The Blue Bottle coffeehouse chain says it wants to "show our guests and the world that we can eliminate disposable cups." Coffee to-go customers will have to bring their own mug or pay a deposit for a reusable cup, which they can keep or return for a refund. The deposit fee will likely be between $3 and $5, the company said. "We expect to lose some business," CEO Bryan Meehan says. “We know some of our guests won't like it—and we're prepared for that.”

Despite the name, today's conventional paper cups for hot drinks aren't made solely from paper. They also have plastic linings that prevent leakage but make them hard to recycle. "It's such a small step to ask people to bring their own cup," says customer Tracy Schroth. "People just have to get into the mindset." Small-cafe owner Kedar Korde is optimistic that one day it will be trendy for coffee drinkers to carry reusable mugs, just like stainless steel water bottles. Korde's Perch Cafe in Oakland ditched paper and plastic cups in September, along with lids and straws. "We now offer a glass jar," Korde said. He was inspired after his 9-year-old daughter's school did a cleanup project at Lake Merritt, across from his cafe, and found their cups. His daughter joked that she shouldn't have to clean her room if he couldn't keep his stuff out of the lake, but he took it seriously. "We're not going to save the world," Korde says. But at least “our cups are no longer winding up in the lake.”

(More recycling stories.)

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