A real cost of a coffee cup

A few years ago, when I got my dream job in a fast paced international company I was very proud to belong to the world where everything is changing rapidly and requiring to me on the tip of my toes all the time. Back then I really felt I was part of something big.

The new culture of freedom created in the office really resonated with me. For the first time I felt that I don’t have to be tied to my desk and I had the freedom to leave the office whenever I want to grab a coffee on the go, walk around the office and refresh my mind. I was not the only one who did it, there were 250 people in the building who were visiting Costa all the time to take the chance to stretch their legs and freely talk to their colleagues outside of the office. The office was based next to the train station and as you can imagine the costa shop was all the time very busy, people were grabbing coffee on the go rather than enjoying it sitting at the table.

When the working day finished I walked home seeing overfilled bins full of costa cups but back then that felt completely normal as cups were the symbol of rush reflecting fast moving working landscape.

No-one really talked about recycling, no one cared about rubbish that has contributed to producing the pleasure of holding a cup of coffee that after a few minutes carelessly lands in the bin on the streets.

Have you ever give a second thought to how much this pleasure cost?

It takes 30 years to recycle a coffee cup. Only in the UK coffee drinkers use around 3bn disposable cups per year and out of these only 1,000 is currently recycled.

The reason being is that most takeaway cups contain a plastic lining that can’t be separated during the recycling process.

Who should take responsibility for this? We may think that the initiative should have come from the big chains such as Starbucks or Costa to provide 100% recyclable cups so we could all avoid guilt and drink a coffee whenever we want. I would argue here that the change should come from us, a consumer who creates demand to supply coffee on the go. If we want to change something the change should come from us first.

Let’s not forget what a coffee moment used to be, do you remember sitting in the coffee shop, being served a frothy cappuccino in a glass cup with the saucer and a little crunchy biscuit on the side.

Or entering the coffee shop and your friend was already waiting for you to join at the table with the milky latte and a welcoming smile.

There was a time to inhale the aroma of the cup of coffee, look around, read a newspaper, gaze by the window watch people passing by, to let our mind wonder. All of these treasured moments have been taken away from us by the invention of the paper coffee cup.

Recently, when the coffee shop finally reopened I thought I will get me and my husband a coffee to feel a bit of “normality”. There were no sitting area inside, only coffee on demand available. I walked inside and waited in the queue. The waiting time felt endless and I glazed through the window to see my lovely toddler legs were impatiently kicking in the buggy and my husband was zipping his jacket to avoid the freezing wind. At that moment I just realised how at fault I was, thinking that “coffee on the go” was a symbol of normality. No, it’s not normality and it has never been but only now I can see this clearly. Instead of enjoying the walk with my family I consciously chose to queue and pay for the cup of coffee that in few minutes was destinated to land in the bin.

This is one of the good things that lockdown has reminded me of. The coffee moment should be a treasure, time to have a bit time for yourself or with your friends as opposite to grabbing a cup and drinking even without knowing that the cup has been empty and we don’t even know when he have drunk it.

I much prefer to have a coffee at home, holding my favourite blue cup with William Morris’ print that my husband got for me and taking a real moment to enjoy the aroma.

No rush, no rubbish.. instead a piece of mind and time to relax, what a treat!

Have you tried it yourself? What is your experience, do you still enjoy drinking coffee on the go or prefer to prepare at home?

One response to “A real cost of a coffee cup”

  1. Thanks, it’s a great thing that this article suggested the importance of Packaging Material.


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