Tuesday, January 5, 2010

End KeepCup Prejudice Now, Snobaristas! or, Keep On Keeping Up, KeepCup!

Lisa Dempster has written an excellent article on I eat I drink I work exploring the intricacies of the coffee surcharge, from decaf to mocha to - the main interest of this writer - soy milk. I have always hated but accepted with grumpy surliness the soy surcharge imposed by almost every coffee shop, but Lisa's interviews with various coffee vendors has shown that soy really does cost extra, and despite the call that the extra cost should be averaged out over all beverages, the imperative of the business owner to, you know, make a proft from their business makes an end to the soycharge (ha!) unlikely.

But what really grabbed me was a comment on Lisa's blog that some Melbourne coffee shops have taken to placing a surcharge on, or even refusing to use, KeepCups.

I love KeepCups. They're well designed, they're environmentally loving, they're cute, they'r easy to clean, and they have really caught on with consumers. And what's more, they save the vendor money in not using a disposable cup and not costing them washing up resources. Big shout out here to my regular coffee vendors, Espresso Depot at 1 Collins Street, who after noticing my KeepCup got really excited and started selling the cups themselves. 

I was outraged to hear that some businesses aren't behind the BYO cup surge sweeping the city. But I was even more shocked to experience not hours later my own instance of KeepCup Prejudice!

I went to a team meeting at - name and shame! - City Wine Bar on Spring Street. I asked for my coffee to be put in my KeepCup so I could take it away in case I didn't finish it. I can only surmise that the City Wine Bar's cultivated European atmosphere would be offended by the interloping plastic of my KeepCup, as I was told that store policy was to not allow KeepCups on the table - but they would do takeaways. Quelle bloody horreur!

I kept my KeepCup on the table throughout the meeting - empty, but who was to know? - for over an hour. No staff member asked me to put it away. No uber-too-cool-for-school trendoids fainted. No coiffeured besuited ladies sniffed. No one spat. And then I left, having bought nothing, to go and get my coffee on my way back to the office from the place I like best.

In Grade 4 my teacher banned the phrase "I don't get it" from his classroom. But I don't. There's nothing particularly nice about 100-washes old glass tumblers (and if you Snobaristas think that my coffee will just taste better in one, then leave that to me to decide). There's certainly nothing nice about single use cardboard cups. If you want to impose an aesthetic standard, then start with banning skinny jeans that reveal circumcision status and faux-Rihanna mohawks.

So get on board. Bringing your own cup is sensible, less costly to the vendor, promoting environmentally sustainable choices, and just doing your bit. 

*Disclaimer: I have two KeepCups (Small: white with chocolate trim, light mushroom lid and matt chocolate plug. Medium: white with light green trim, dark mushroom lid and chocolate plug). My sister has two (One medium like mine. One medium: white with fuschia trim, chocolate lid and aqua plug). Buzz has one (Medium: black with chocolate trim, black lid, chocolate plug). Toby has Darth Vader (Black. Just black). Lots of people have them. Speed up.


Anonymous said...

I'm all for KeepCups but I know someone who was verbally attacked in a shop by a girl who had just discovered them at an expo and told my friend she was "horrified" they didn't use them. And proceded to go on a self righteous tirade. My friend's shop had known nothing about them but instantly got their backs up about it because of the "holier than thou" preaching of this young woman (actually they were going to get them in but stopped selling coffee anyway). Um...the moral of the story? Aggressive people suck no matter what their cause is. It's "better to light a candle than to curse the dark".

Miss T said...

Agreed, Anonymous. It's the most recently converted who are the most virulent. However, the point I was making was not that all coffee shops only use reusable cups, but that it is absurd for any coffee shop to refuse to use a customer's own cup instead of their own. I certainly wasn't saying that anyone - me or the waiter - was aggressive.

Miss T said...

Sorry, that should read: "... that all coffee shops should only use reusable cups ...".

lisa said...

Good reportering, Miss T! And long live KeepCups...

Ruth said...

I've never had a problem with cafes (in fact, as I have a large-sized cup, I quite often get a large coffee for the price of a regular), but I have another issue:

Everyone in my office got given one, free - most started out enthusiastic (some outright refused to use them saying 'the coffee tastes different' or they couldn't be bothered washing it. I don't agree but respect their honesty) but interest by others has almost completely waned. They have the cups ON THEIR DESKS, yet when I go to do the morning coffee run and ask if they want me to take their cup, it's "... nah."

I don't get it - it's the same coffee, same price, and we have a dishwasher. How can you NOT feel like a total jerk wasting a paper cup and plastic lid when it is no extra money or effort on their part?

As the pirate with the steering wheel down his pantaloons said: Arrr, it's driving me nuts!

Miss T said...

Oh wow Ruth, I'm really shocked! I really don't believe the coffee tastes any worse- in fact I think it tastes better and it certainly stays hotter for longer - and it's the easiest thing ever to clean (I used to have a Thermos mug with lots of fiddly bits and it was impossible to get all the sloshes of coffee out from the twisty lid; also it was metal and it definitely tasted odd). Perhaps your experience shows that people have to really want to adopt new practices rather than have them presented to them. A colleague of mine has a six or seven year old daughter who has been coming into work over the holidays, and after seeing her mum's KeepCup she brought in her own pocket money to buy her own! She is a pretty rad kid, and I think that the desire to be a part of it might be the key element of a successful takeup of new ideas. Good luck with your recalcitrant colleagues!

Anonymous said...

Wow I cannot believe your keep-cup was refused! I eagerly awaited the arrival of the keep-cup and bought two from Blue Bag the first week that they were available. I went through a stage of trying out different coffee places (probably sampled about 40 different cafes in Collingwood, Fitzroy and the CBD) and I have not come across any cafe that refused the cup or charged me to use it. Outrageous! The general reaction to the use of the cup has been positive (although people were a little bemused when there weren't many around). I'll be interested to see if anyone else has been refused as well!! Long live the cup!
Cheers, Emily

Miss T said...

Hi Emily, nice to meet you! I'm glad your (very extensive!) cafe sampling was all positive. From now on I'll be loudly and proudly boycotting any coffee shop that refuses or charges for use of my lovely KeepCup!

Lizzie said...

I'm as surprised and shocked as you are that people don't accept keep cups. If anything doesn't it save them money (even just a teeny bit) to not have to use their own cups?
Although i had a wee vent outloud, my boyfriend (who works in a cafe and happily uses keep cups) pointed out that it is pretty gross when they get one handed to them that hasn't been cleaned.
I love mine! Its so pretty.

I'm Philippa O said...

that's crazy! where else does this? it doesn't make any sense to me. not only does the cafe save on washing up, they also don't have to pay for the takeaway cup. really what is the problem? working in cafes, i HATE seeing people getting coffee in takeaway cups only to sit in the cafe and drink them. i love my keepcup, not just because their cute. they are really well designed, and the cup is your responsibility, you take it home and wash it, saving the people who work there the bother.