Hi everyone,


I am trying to understand the current market of to go paper cups for hot beverages and I am wondering if I can get some inputs from the experts here first hand, coffee shop owners / baristas :). If you don't mind sharing your thoughts and experience, I would very much appreciate it.


Some of the questions that I am trying to answer are:

1. What are your determining factor when purchasing which paper cups you would like to use as a to go container for your drinks?


2. What are your thoughts about the options/variety that are available out there for you? Do you like how they are designed (what is printed on the cup) Do you wish there are "prettier/more modern/more edgy" design on the cups on the market? 


3. How important it is for you that the cup carries your brand/logo of your business?


4. Why or why not, did you choose to brand and pay extra for custom printing for your cups?


If you prefer a more yes/no format, I've created a questionnaire here for the more specific questions: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XTWLHKK 


Thank you so much in advance for your time!



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Hi Olivia,

I use a few different factors for our cup selection.  However, I need to preface this that I always encourage customers and staff to use ceramics whenever possible.  Too often, us cafes get used to handing every drink in a paper cup, when many of our customers plan on sitting in the cafe and drinking it.  "For here cups" cost less and cuts down on garbage.  On average, a paper cup and lid will add $.10 to your bottom line.  If you can avoid those costs, it will save money through reduced purchasing and a lower trash bill.

For the to-go cups, we use International Paper cups because the 12-20 oz sizes all use the same black lid size.  These cups are inexpensive and we have them delivered once a week through our local paper supplier.  Solo is also easy and available almost anywhere, but last time I checked they used more variety of lid sizes, which causes you to stock more product on your shelves and clutters your counter.  Compostable cups seem to be more of an image and PR move than actually being better for the environment.  Our local compost won't even take them because they don't "compost" within 60 or 90 days, which is their criteria.  Factoring in the price increase for them, and I fail to see a reason to buy them at this time.

We have Java Jackets available for customers to keep from holding too hot a cup.

For banding, unless you go through a huge amount of cups (possible with multiple stores) and are able to buy a high enough volume, I don't feel custom printing gains much.  We had a custom stamp created from our local Stamp Connection and we stamp cups each day as our daily chores.  We place the stamp at the top or bottom of the cup to avoid our logo being covered by the Java Jacket.  This looks very sleek and is simple.  For us, it is the most cost-effective method and is as effective as any other custom printed cup.  I've seen most other high-end cafes do this in the area as well.

Hope this helps.  Good luck!

1 - white, unprinted, quality, price

2 - I only want white, unprinted. For me, the rest is immaterial.

3 - Relatively important

4 - Did not choose b/c of the 50,000 cup minimum - PER SIZE

Thanks so much for your inputs, Adroc and Jay. They are very helpful.

It is interesting to know that the local compost facility in portland doesn't take the compostable cups, because I had this impression Oregon is one of the leading area for green packaging as well. 

And regarding the stamp, I have been wondering about that too! It is amazing that, I agree, some of the high end coffee shop also stamps their cup. I was wondering what are some of the reasons they choose to stamp, because it does make an extra thing to do everyday. And isn't it a bit tricky to stamp on a non flat surface though, Adroc? I was thinking a sticker (a sleek one) or a custom sleeve, would be an easier thing to do? But it is probably not as cost-effective, isn't it?

Again, thanks so much! I will be sure to visit your shop when I come to visit Portland since I live in SF bay area. (Maryland is a bit further away, but maybe one day..)

I would suggest using foam cups and here's why. Foam cups insulate a 1000 times better than paper cups. You don't need a cup sleeve to keep your customer from burning their hand. You can use foam cups for both hot and cold drinks and they will keep your cold drinks colder and you hot drinks hotter for much longer than paper cups will.

I know that everyone talks about the environment but think about it, the paper cups and the foam cups get thrown away in the same garbage in the same land fill. I just read that some landfill was digging up some old trash to compact and they found a news paper from 1930 in perfect condition, so don't tell me that paper degrades and faster while buried under dirt.

And foam cups cost much less than paper cups there fore increasing you profits

well that's my two cents. I have been in the coffee business for 23 years. I had a customer lose customers just be cause he switched to paper. He saw the customers he lost on day, the worked outside. He asked them why they stopped coming to his store to buy coffee. They said because he switched to paper and the coffee got cold to fast in a paper cup. He switch back the next day.

paper cup with lid $.45-.65 cents with cup sleeve add $.12-.15 cents

foam cup with lid  $.15-.35 cents a cup no sleeve needed $.00

give or take

Thanks, Robert! your input is much appreciated!


IMO supporting paper pulp production isgreaterthan supporting petroleum production that I'm pretty sure foam cups are made from

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