Can you imagine a reusable and fairly long-lasting coffee cup that, once it breaks or doesn’t satisfy your aesthetic desires anymore, can be soaked in boiling hot water and thrown away with compost? No, not “more or less” recyclable like plastic, glass or metal, but totally biodegradable and leaving no trace in the environment, like the food you eat. Sounds pretty cool, right? Meet bamboo coffee cups, the new craze among coffee aficionados all over the world. Let’s find out if the craze is worth it.
Wait, what about paper coffee cups?
For all those thinking right now: “But what is wrong with disposable paper coffee cups? Paper is biodegradable and recyclable, and there is no need to bother carrying a cup around with me every day”. Let’s make it clear: paper cups are coated with thin plastic layer to laminate the inside, which makes them a tricky type of waste to recycle, not to mention plastic lids that go with them. 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used each year around the world, which makes single-use cups an absolute “no” for anyone who cares about the environment.
But why bamboo then? How is it different from paper?
Biodegradable: Bamboo fibre is capable of decomposing pretty quickly under natural conditions, causing no harm for the environment.
Sustainable: Being one of the world’s fastest-growing crops, bamboo can be cultivated without fertilizers and dangerous chemicals. The plant doesn’t die once it’s cut, but it continues growing from its powerful root system, unlike trees after they are cut for paper production.
Eco-friendly manufacturing process: Production of bamboo fibre is low energy-consuming and low carbon dioxide-emitting. The material that you get is petrochemical and plastic free.
Durable. Although bamboo cups have similar feel to paper/cardboard, they do not need that nasty thin plastic layer on the inner side, because it is non-GMO cornstarch and resin that make the cup hard, long-lasting and leak-proof. Also coffee-lovers believe that bamboo cups don’t add “paper taste” to your coffee.
So, if we are talking about being environmentally friendly, obviously, bamboo is super hard to beat.
Any downsides to bamboo coffee cups?
Of course, bamboo cups aren’t the only option when it comes to reusable cups and there are aspects in which they can be outplayed by other more heavy-duty variants. If you are not sure whether to get one or not, you might want to consider the following drawbacks to bamboo cups:
- Bamboo coffee cups definitely won’t last as long as their counterparts made of hardened glass or stainless steel. Still they can last for years if treated properly.
- You probably won’t be able to put your bamboo cup in the microwave oven. Most of them aren’t microwave safe.
- Bamboo coffee cups are single-walled. Expect your drink to stay hot in it for as long as in any other light single-walled cup (plastic, foam or paper), which is usually less that 20 minutes. For the same reason a bamboo cup (if it goes without a silicone sleeve) may feel pretty hot to your hand when there is hot brew in it. So make sure you get a cup with a thick silicone sleeve.
- Bamboo coffee cup isn’t 100% leak-proof. This means that if it is full and you lay it down in your bag it may leak through the tiny hole in the middle that lets air in or through the sipping hole if you forget to put the plug stopper in. But there won’t be any leaking happening if you just carry it around or place it in a cup holder, as long as you cover it with its lid with a sipping hole. Some bamboo cups have plug stoppers on the lids. There are even special stopper sticks that you can buy separately if your cup doesn’t have one.
- If you made the mistake of buying a cup with a silicone lid instead of bamboo screw-on lid… For some time the lid can have silicone smell to it. It may be due to the fact that the silicone part has been sealed for a long time, provided that you got your cup from a trustworthy brand. Note that you should wash the cup, including its silicone parts, thoroughly before the first and subsequent uses. This should make the smell disappear completely. For this reason, we recommend only buying cups with screw-on lids that are made from the same material as the cup itself.
What are the pros of bamboo coffee cups?
Even taking all mentioned above into account, bamboo coffee cups still get a definite “yes” from us. So, here are some reasons why environmentally conscious people love them so much.
- Look amazing. Bamboo coffee cups come in different sizes and designs, so you can get the one that reflects your aesthetic preference. Do you prefer something casual and simple, bright and vibrant or are you more into an intricate luxe-looking print? The variety of colours and patterns is astonishing, so there is just a perfect cup for everyone. What’s more, you can order a handmade mug at online retailers websites and support the international artisan community. Your coffee on the go can become a zero-waste and stylish statement of who you are, while most disposable cups only show your loyalty to some outlet brand and glass/steel cups can’t compete in the diversity of designs. Fashion lovers can get a collection of cups to match their outfits.
- Make a great present. They can make a good present too. You can order a custom design for special occasions, so that your family and friends get an eco-friendly gift that will remind them of special moments spent together. Business owners and entrepreneurs can make a use of the cups too, as they offer a powerful advertising tool while sending across the right environmental message.
- Save money. If it’s still not convincing enough for you, consider the fact, that investing in a reusable cup can help you save a bit of cash as some coffee chains will deduct the price of the disposable cup of your favourite latte or espresso if you have your own mug to fill. If you are purchasing the cup itself in one of the shops, they can offer you a coffee for free. Bamboo coffee cups can last for years if treated nicely, so you won’t need to get a new one every month, unless you want to. There are options for every budget. You can get your cup for as little as £4, which is about the price of your regular latte. More sophisticated or custom made designs will be a bit more costly, but still within the £15 range. The price depends on design, functionality, the quality of insulation the sleeve provides and on whether the lid prevents leaks. This makes them more attractive than glass or stainless steel options.
- Light. You won’t even feel them in your backpack or handbag. The average weight is around 200g (135-140 without a lid). A glass or stainless steel options are 30-50% heavier, ranging between 300 to 400g. If you are travelling a lot they are a solution, they will not add much extra weight to your luggage. Staying eco-friendly when having a coffee on a flight sounds like an awesome idea to us.
- BPA and phthalate free. Apart from caring for the environment, you are taking your own well-being into account. Not only do they make your coffee healthier, but they also possess anti-bacterial property due to the presence of anti-bacterial substances in the bamboo tree. Moreover, there’s no risk of the chemicals affecting your coffee’s taste.
- Easy to get. Nowadays you can get your reusable bamboo coffee cup in a number of coffee outlets or just order one online. Remember how light they are? Even overseas shipping won’t cost much, if you cannot find the particular design you like locally.
- Fit into a car holder. Most bamboo travel cups fit into a car cup holder. You might feel surprised that we are even mentioning that, but the thing is some of the reusable cups have bigger diameter and you can struggle fitting it into holders depending on the type of your car.
So what’s the verdict?
There is a stylish way to lower your personal environmental impact by cutting down on single-use paper cups, so you might want to consider switching to bamboo travel cups. They are real winners for environmentally conscious coffee lovers thanks to the material they are made of, as bamboo is very fast growing, which helps to avoid deforestation in the regions where it’s produced. The cups themselves are also safe and eco-friendly whereas the lids are BPA and phthalate-free. They are good for your health and don’t add any abnormal taste to your drink. If you need a light sustainable cup that is affordable, just pick the one that suits you most from a range of striking colourful designs and patterns. There are so many great qualities about them that it’s almost impossible not to fall for this latest bamboo coffee cup craze. Feel ready to get yourself one?