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

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.

4 Packaging Design Trends of 2018
coffee cups of the future

The new year is upon us, time to make changes to your packaging for 2018.

Through a combination of our extensive industry knowledge (Takeaway-Packaging-inner-genius) and consulting a very large crystal ball in our office, we’ve been considering what will be in store for takeaway packaging in the next 12 months.

This article will tell you everything you need to know to have the trendiest packaging going!

In short, we’ve compiled the four major trends that are set to catch the eye of your customers in 2018. Here’s a run-down of creative ideas for those purchasing takeaway packaging which will ensure your packaging stays bang-on trend and ahead of the game.


Nostalgia – Old Fashioned & Retro Packaging

It’s not hard to notice the huge wave of throwback design currently happening.

All of a sudden shell suits, knitting, flares and dodgy hair is back in fashion and while that’s going on everyone is sipping ‘craft’ gin or prohibition-style cocktails. There’s still an insatiable appetite and desire to indulge in a bygone era.

People yearn for the past because they are seeking greater individuality which existed in times of less competition. You should aim to pander to this feeling.

Is it, perhaps, that what we’re all searching for is some integrity in our product choices and what we consume? Maybe a side-step from mass-produced crowded markets?

Nowadays many of us favour the ornate, we look for craftsmanship, the handmade and skilled approach.

This is showing no signs of slowing in the 12 months to come.

It’s this consumer preference that really encourages the personality of a brand to come to the fore. Companies must differentiate themselves and display their personalities through patterns and detailing on their packaging.

Let’s not forget, care and attention to detail on the packaging speaks volumes about the deliciousness of the food or drink on the inside. Do judge a falafel wrap by its packaging!

Stuck for ideas? Think paisley print, Dickensian sideburns, pictures of bicycles and moustaches.

Old fashioned coffee print
Awesome coffee cup

Textured Packaging & Labels

Texture on packaging and labelling is soaring in popularity and demand. This is because it includes other sensory feelings before contact is even made with the packaging contents.

In many cases texture plays a vital role in both style and function.

A perfect example of this and one that is guaranteed to set off your hot drinks on the right track in January is our very own Executive Paper Coffee Cups.
These use an eye-catching, trend-setting, two-tone grid design and ultra-firm ribbing which looks and feels great, even before you’ve tried the coffee!

Emboss, deboss, textured paper, textiles, whatever you choose, it’s bound to get bigger in the new year.

Check out our range of textured packaging.

Takeaway Packaging - Coffee Cups

Environmentally Focussed & Renewable Sources

Consumers and brands have become ever more environmentally conscious.

There is an increasing availability of renewable materials which also helps to promote their use. Those purchasing takeaway packaging can now get hold of more obscure materials such as wood fibres, shrimp shells, mushrooms or sugarcanes to replace harmful polymers.

Safe and responsible packaging is the go-to option for consumers who are concerned about the environment and who want to have greater control over their waste.

Of particular concern at the moment is the terrible issue of plastics in the ocean.

Last month, the Independent reported “around eight million tons of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, where it gets eaten by fish or birds. More than a million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals die annually from getting caught in or swallowing the waste.”

To combat this the Chancellor is considering a tax on takeaway packaging with particular regard to single-use packaging. This follows the charge on plastic carrier bags.

Raising awareness is one thing but attacking the problem at its source is the only way that the problem will be resolved which is why the rise of zero-waste initiatives are driving the trend in eco-packaging.

Browse through our selection of green packaging options to consider how you can help.

compostable drinks cup

Minimalist Design

Our final trend spot which has entered onto the radar more recently is the minimalist approach to packaging design.

In many cases, we’ve seen a surge of packaging with ultra-minimal imagery or even the stripping away of graphic elements entirely.

Many brands are opting for a cleaner, ‘essentialist’ look which avoids noisiness and excessive information.

This theme is rife throughout the takeaway industry already and definitely looks set to stay as we’ve found that a number of brands want to customize just their labelling and leave the rest of the packaging plain, letting the material speak for itself.

Consider how you can adopt these trends into your packaging arsenal. A good brand and logo should cater for a versatile approach to packaging.

Get in touch for expert advice on choosing the right packaging styles to suit your company making 2018 your trendiest year yet!