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Cuppuccino - Temporary reusable coffee cup with integrated lid and sleeve.

Disposable coffee cup, sleeve and lid integrated into one reusable, recyclable, and familiar unit. Reuse for the day/week - not for life.

Photo of Matt Jones
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[UPDATE - Jumped the gun and submitted an idea during the research phase - this idea is something based on years of observation and considering the problem. Use it to help with your own innovation and I'll add it to the idea phase when entries open.]

The focus of this design looks to address two of the proposed problem items - coffee cup lids and plastic straws.

People don't respond well to change - at least initially. Give them what they want - but in a way that makes it easier for them to do the right thing. Change will follow.

People value convenience and want their coffee on the go. Without a fundamental change in habits, people will continue to seek out disposable cups. Forgetting their 'cup-for-life' on the wash rack at home, or at their office desk will continue to be the downfall of well-meaning intentions. Breaking the re-use habit before it has a chance to start. The challenge is less to break the need for disposable cups, but to encourage more responsible manufacture of disposable cups. 

Integrating the components of our coffee culture into one easily disposable, yet reusable, cup, made from a commonly recyclable plastic achieves numerous goals (providing the design accommodates what the culture has grown to expect).

What does coffee culture expect?

  • The design must have the ability to allow the lid to be opened and closed.
  • The design must allow for people to drink with the lid opened or closed.
  • The design must contain the liquid, preventing it from easily spilling as the consumer walks.
  • The design must prevent the consumer from burning their fingers on the outer walls of the coffee cup.
  • The design ideally allows for a consumer to use a straw.
  • The design must be stackable, allowing for minimal storage overheads.
  • The design must accommodate branding / printed graphics.
  • The design must be reusable (but not necessarily indestructible or require costly materials) - A cup for the day/week - not for life.

From an environmental standpoint, the planet benefits from:

  • A design that is made of a single reusable and recyclable material - ideally, made from recycled materials itself.
  • A design that avoids multiple parts - no small pieces that can be pulled off.
  • A design that is recognisable as recyclable - prompting recycling
  • A design that is recognisable as reusable - prompting reuse
  • A design that people favour over less easily recyclable products - prompting use.

Proposed solution:

The proposed solution is a single reusable and recyclable material plastic cup with integrated sleeve and hinged lid, with a strong grip straw holder. Additionally, straws using the same material allow for the straw to be recycled together with the cup.

The design features:

See attached sketchpad notes.

  • The hinge allows for the lid to be delivered open allowing for the cups to be stacked, keeping storage and shipping costs low.
  • The hinged lid flips over to cover the cup opening and provides a reasonably tight (mechanical) seal - preventing spills.
  • The lid includes a (mechanically) resealable pull tab creating a small opening from which to drink the contents of the cup.
  • The pull tab opening is designed as such that a straw can be inserted, but with the points within the design being forced down, make it hard to remove the straw (although not impossible). Enabling both the straw (of the same material) and integrated cup design to be recycled as one.
  • The fins enveloping the cups outer walls replace the need for a cardboard sleeve - demonstrating similar but increased effects of preventing the consumer from burning their fingers from touching the exposed walls of the coffee cup when drinking a hot beverage.
  • The design of the fins around the cup can accommodate one area of any desired shape, least likely to be held when drinking from the cup, for (pad printed) branding.
  • The base of the cup is raised in the middle to ensure that most condensation and/or heat of the cup does not transfer to a table / counter top.

It is recommended that this cup design is marketed as a temporary reusable cup, and that coffee shops are encouraged to refund consumers for returning their cups for disposal. This can be in the form of a discount, as with the 'cups-for-life' incentive many shops now employ. Customers can either reuse their cup or have it replaced for a new one. Either way - promoting reuse where possible and recycling where undesirable.

I've named this idea 'Cuppuccino' - a play on the words Cup and Cappuccino.

(c) Copyright 2017 Matt Jones UK - All rights reserved.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

This idea strongly supports Use Case 3 - Straws and take-away coffee lids - and provides a marked improvement for all 3 personas - Anne, Lucas and Nigel.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

People don't respond well to change - at least initially. Give them what they want - but in a way that makes it easier for them to do the right thing. Change will follow.

Tell us about yourself

Matt Jones - a digital product innovation consultant specialising in customer-centred design with a focus on user interface design. My job is to identify patterns, gleaned from insights and meeting with real users, to determine better outcomes for the user, the business and society as a whole.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Matt,

Interesting design! I look forward to seeing it in the ideas phase in 9 days time.

Have you been able to speak to some who works in a coffee chain for their feedback on your idea?

Have you been able to create a physical early stage prototype?

Photo of Matt Jones

Many thanks Kate!

I have started to produce a 3D model of it (not my strongest skill) and aim to have it specialist printed (my 3D printer won't manage the thin walls). It's this I'd like to take round to a few coffee shops to check their feedback.

I have another couple of designs in the works too - yet as this one has had some good feedback, I'm going to concentrate on this one for the minute. I may publish early designs of these other concepts during the idea phase.

See you in the ideas phase soon.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Matt,

I look forward to see you in the ideas phase. I would recommend posting some scrappy sketches of the other designs in the ideas phase as well, even if they are 'on the back of a napkin' designs. You can treat the ideas phase as a 'brain dump' of ideas because you just can never be a hundred percentage sure what resonates.

Photo of Matt Jones

I absolutely will. Thanks Kate :)

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