Disposable Coffee Cups: A Complete Guide for Eco-Conscious Businesses

As a business owner, you know how vital it is to give your customers a positive and memorable experience. There’s no better way to show your dedication to exceptional service than by providing eco-friendly packaging.

In fact, research indicates that consumers are willing to pay more for sustainably packaged products if and when they’re available. 

This can make looking for sustainable disposable coffee cups a little tricky since there’s such an extensive range of drinks packaging to choose from. 

This guide will help you pick the perfect coffee cups for your café, coffee shop or drinks stall, or any other business selling hot and cold beverages. Let’s get started!

Related: Takeaway Packaging Achieves Carbon Neutral Status 

Getting Started: Coffee Cup Sizes

Grande, venti… large? Naming coffee sizes can be complicated. That’s before you get into the types of coffee you may offer, from macchiatos to frappuccinos. 

No matter what kind of hot drinks you’re serving, you need the right size coffee cups to suit your drinks menu. This will ensure your customers won’t be left disappointed with their selection — something eclectic coffee names can get in the way of.

Here’s a simple guide to coffee cup sizes for different kinds of coffee:

4oz (118ml) Single or Double Shot (e.g. Espresso, Ristretto)

4oz Single Wall Coffee Cup (White)

6oz (177ml) Small Coffee (e.g. Lungo, Macchiato, Flat White)

6oz Single wall Coffee Cup (Black)

8oz (227ml) Regular Coffee (e.g. Latte, Cappuccino, Americano)

8oz Double Wall Coffee Cup (Kraft)

12oz (355ml) Large Coffee(e.g. Latte, Cappuccino, Americano)

12oz Double Wall Coffee Cup (Kraft)

16oz (473ml) Extra Large Coffee(e.g. French Press, Filter Coffee)

16oz Ripple Wall Coffee Cup (Kraft)

Each of these designs is available in various sizes. If you like a particular style, you can get multiple sizes for your entire selection of beverages. 

Check out our online shop and discover a full range of eco-friendly coffee cups.

Different Types of Disposable Coffee Cups

Once you’ve figured out which size packaging you need for your beverages, it’s time to think about the design that’s most appropriate for your menu of drinks — and your budget.

We’ve outlined the most popular styles of coffee cups below, from our most cost-effective packaging to more elaborate and up-market designs:

Single Wall

Single Wall

These cups are made of single-layer paperboard and are best suited to cold drinks. If you’re using these to serve hot drinks, it’s a good idea to pair them with a coffee cup sleeve and even a cautionary message. Simple but effective, these affordable takeaway coffee cups are a popular product choice for eco-conscious businesses on a budget.

Double Wall

Double Wall

Our best-selling coffee cups, double wall designs offer maximum insulation and have immense structural integrity. They’re ideal for hot drinks and are still cost-efficient since customers won’t need a sleeve for hand protection. If you opt for a branded coffee cup, your design will appear bold and bright against the white upper and lower rims.

Ripple Cup black

Ripple Wall

This design offers similar benefits to double wall coffee cups and will keep your customer’s coffee hotter for longer compared to single-wall cups. The textured surface of these takeaway coffee cups provides excellent insulation and offers more grip, making carrying hot drinks a breeze, even on cold, wet and windy mornings.

You can add branding to each of these coffee cup designs to maximise your presence and exposure. Get in touch for a free design quote.

Yellow Submarine
Featured: Yellow Sub (Liverpool) — Branded Double Wall Coffee Cups

Types of Linings Used in Disposable Coffee Cups

Disposable coffee cups feature a lining to prevent leaks and spills. If no lining was present, liquids would be absorbed by the packaging and render your coffee cups useless.

The lining of coffee cups can be crafted from different materials. The application of these materials affects the way that coffee cups should be disposed of:

Compostable Coffee Cups (PLA Lining)

Compostable coffee cups feature a lining made from PLA (polylactic acid), a compostable and biodegradable material. PLA provides a natural, glossy, liquid-resistant barrier. It’s heat resistant too, so it’s ideal for use with hot drinks.

Plus, PLA is a naturally occurring substance, so it’ll break down into organic compounds when it degrades — a process that takes around three to six months under the right conditions. 

It’s a more environmentally friendly choice compared to plastics, which take centuries to decompose and degrade into microplastics, especially if they’re disposed of in general waste and end up in landfills.

Opt for PLA-lined coffee cups if there aren’t any recycling points in your customers’ vicinity. Compostable and biodegradable cups don’t cause as much damage to the environment as plastic-based receptacles even if they’re discarded in general waste.

Recyclable Coffee Cups (PE Lining)

Recyclable coffee cups are crafted with a PE (polyethylene) lining and have a glossy finish on the inside and outside of the packaging. These cups are perfect for hot drinks but are even better for cold or chilled beverages. If condensation forms, the excess moisture won’t be absorbed and spoil the packaging — these coffee cups will stay strong even at cold temperatures.

The internal PE coating prevents liquid from soaking through the wall, while the glossy external coating prevents condensation from moistening the outside of the cup.

Use these cups if there are plenty of recycling points available in your area. Nearly all homes and businesses have recycling points too.

Related: The Best Packaging Materials for Takeaway Food and Drinks in 2022

Coffee and chrome
Featured: Coffee & Chrome (UK) — Double Wall Coffee Cups with Lids

The Benefits of Using Disposable Coffee Cups

Reusable coffee cups have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. Many popular coffee houses have incentivised customers to bring their own receptacles, but this isn’t always convenient. 

Plus, reusable coffee cups need to be used up to 250 times before they can be deemed environmentally preferable to disposable cups. That puts a lot of undue pressure on consumers to remember their reusable cup when leaving the house.

So what are the benefits of using single-use coffee cups? 

There are three undeniable advantages:

  • Convenience — As mentioned, disposable cups offer a level of convenience that reusable beverage containers cannot match.
  • Variety — Multiple sizes and designs make serving various drinks straightforward for businesses and enjoyable for consumers.
  • Disposability — When paper coffee cups have been used, they can easily be recycled or composted, domestically or commercially.

Since paper cups are made from natural materials, they’re inherently biodegradable. They don’t cause as much harm to the environment as synthetic products — even if they’re thrown away in general waste, they’ll degrade hundreds of years faster than any kind of plastic.

Related: Recyclable vs Compostable vs Biodegradable Packaging 

Miss Cornwall Coffee Cups
Featured: Miss V’s (Cornwall) — Double Wall Coffee Cups with Lids

We created a beautiful design for Miss V’s, an independent coffee shop in Cornwall. These coffee cups with lids feature an impressively detailed design that’s both elegant and eye-catching. 

The colour design contrasts nicely with the lid and the bottom of the double walled cup, but the real ingenuity is in using sustainable materials. Every aspect of the cup can be recycled, in turn, reducing plastic waste and providing Miss V’s patrons with a caffeine kick — one that doesn’t come with a bad environmental aftertaste.

Interested in branded packaging for your business? Get in touch for a free design quote.

Eco-Friendly Accessories for Hot Drinks

Since the UK banned plastic straws and stirrers in 2020, paper and wooden alternatives have taken their place. There are several essential coffee cup accessories you need to provide a completely eco-friendly service:

Coffee Cup Lids

Probably the most important to your hot drinks selection are coffee cup lids. Our lids perfectly fit our coffee cups to help prevent leaks and spills, making transporting your hot takeaway drinks risk-free. 

We have a selection of compostable cup lids made from bagasse — a natural by-product of sugarcane harvesting — designed to fit our range of paper cups. Each cup lid will fit various cup sizes to make things easy.

Coffee Cup Sleeves

If you’re using single wall paper cups to serve hot beverages, coffee cup sleeves will prevent your customers from burning their hands when you serve them their drinks.

These eco-friendly sleeves can be branded and used in conjunction with plain paper cups, allowing you to include advertising or promotions, creating cost-effective branded packaging.

Straws and Stirrers

Iced coffees are best enjoyed with a straw. Paper straws make an adequate replacement, but biodegradable straws made from PLA are more sturdy and would be well-suited to frappucino-style drinks. 

Wooden stirrers are ideal for customers who want to sweeten their drinks with sugar or add milk.

Coffee Cup Carriers

For orders of multiple hot drinks, our sturdy cup carriers hold up to four beverages. Also available as a two-cup carrier, their cardboard construction makes them completely recyclable and compostable.

They’ll help prevent spills in the car or walking and are particularly useful at festivals or outdoor events.

Eco-Friendly Branded Coffee Cups 

Want more from your drinks packaging? Branded paper cups provide a visually appealing and cost-effective way to promote your business. 

Alongside our comprehensive standard eco-friendly coffee cups, we can fully customise your packaging to promote your brand. We use water and vegetable-based inks to create deep, vibrant colours, making your packaging stand out sustainably. 

Want to add your logo or artwork to these coffee cups? Get in touch for a free design quote and let us help you create awesome branded coffee cups.

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