Frank Green Smart Cup

Frank Green Smart Cup on sale at Stokes at The Lawn

It is difficult to see anything positive about this reusabale coffee cup.

Ugly, bulky, plastic, expensive.

Waitrose reusable coffee cups

I am reminded of the cheap and tacky plastic cups on sale in Waitrose. The main difference, those from Waitrose retail at £3.

What are the whole life cycle costs of a product made of plastic? It is claimed to be recyclable, but no information how.

I would not wish to drink out of plastic.

I first came across the Frank Green Smart Cup in Stokes at The Lawn. I asked how much? No one knew, no one could ever recall one being sold, let alone used. They thought a tenner, maybe a little more.

Did they give a discount if used? Yes, but no one knew. They said you scan the cup.

I checked on the Stokes website. Price range £12–50 to £14–50, which puts it mid-range between a plastic and glass KeepCup. On Amazon the price much higher, £26.15 plus £9.05 delivery charge.

20p discount if bring the Frank Green cup back to Stokes for a refill.

I give Stokes as an example not as a criticism of Stokes. What it illustrates is a more fundamental problem, the lack of take up of let alone use of reusable cups, be they Frank Green or the more desirable KeepCup.

20p discount is not going to encourage use of reusable cups. Even where coffee shops have been offering a substantial discount the take up has been minimal.

In the New Year, Pret a Manger are going to be offering takeaway organic filter coffee at 49p a cup, if you bring your own cup to fill. That is 50p discount. With no information in store, no reusable cups on sale in store, no launch on their twitter account, it remains to be seen what will be the take up of this offer. Assuming it is not a clever PR stunt, nothing more.

Reusable cups have to be carried around. In Stokes would have to use in excess of 50 times to recover initial investment in the cup.

What is a smart cup? What makes it smart? What differentiates a smart cup from a dumb cup?

A chip in the lid that present to pay for your coffee. The chip communicates with an app on a smart phone.

I would agree with Brian writing in Brian’s Coffee Spot:

The lid contains Frank Green’s other major selling point. It has a chip in it, which supports both loyalty cards and payment methods. Called CaféPay, this means you can actually pay with your cup and, for example, automatically get a discount since your using a reusable cup. Obviously how useful this becomes will depend on how many retailers support it. It’s clearly a neat feature, but I can’t help feeling it’s a solution looking for a problem. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve never found myself in a coffee shop thinking how great it would be if I could pay with my cup.

Brian also says it is bulky.

I agree, a solution looking for a problem. I have never been in a coffee shop thinking, now if only I could pay for my coffee with a coffee cup lid. What is wrong with cash? About as useless as bitcoin for payment in the real world.

And if I were to buy a smart cup in Stokes can I use this dumb system to pay for coffee in other coffee shops?

I can find no information on the Frank Green website on why the cup is smart or how it is used.

There was no information in Stokes. My attention was drawn after reading about Lulu. A stranded whale that died, and the sculpture hanging from the ceiling. I had wondered why, when they opened in the summer, why a whale suspended from the ceiling. It is made of recycled plastic, to highlight plastic pollution.

I asked, were their takeaway cups compostable paper? No, but they are looking into it. I suggested talk to Makushi, who are now using compostable paper cups.

Compostable cups are a step in the right direction.

What appear to be paper cups are not, they have a plastic liner. They cannot be recycled.

Plastic pollution is destroying the planet.

Compostable coffee cups are better than the throwaway disposable takeaway cups. The UK throws away 2.5 billion every year which go to landfill or incineration.

But …. and it is a big but …. it does not solve the waste problem.

Let us assume I have been shopping at the market or the fruit and vegetable shop in Bailgate, have a bag of fresh produce, am on my way home, I can then pop my cup in with the fruit and vegetables, when I get home throw on the compost heap.

So far so good.

But what if not? What do I do with my compostable cup? Throw it in the bushes, over the wall in a garden, in the river?

That is the dilemma.

What in reality will happen it will join the waste stream.

Something like a KeepCup on sale, bring back for a refill. Disadvantage, expensive, have to cart around. Only really works if popping out from the office for a coffee to take back to the office. And that is the market Stokes should target, office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office, and with a larger discount, and KeepCup not a Frank Green Smart Cup.

What we have to do is discourage the grab and go, mindless consumption culture.

Encourage people to sit and relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup.

And to be fair to Stokes at The Lawn, their clientele is people wishing to relax with a coffee or afternoon tea. And if you sit in the back room, can watch their coffee roasting operation.

If I were to advise Stokes, it would be get shot of the Frank Green cups, replace with KeepCup, which can have the Stokes brand, target office workers with a substantial discount, encourage relax in the coffee shop with a coffee.

How not to, a flyer I picked up from Coffee Aroma. I thought it was offering 50% discount on a cup of coffee. Sadly not. It is offering 50% discount on a takeaway. Please no. We should not be encouraging takeaway, we should be discouraging. Scrap the offer, reverse it, and instead, issue a flyer offering 50% discount if sit in and relax with a cup of coffee. By all means a discount of 50% if bring own cup for a refill.

Disposable cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate, the coffee grounds, milk making cappuccino.

Best use of coffee grounds, put out for gardeners to take away. The milk, already warm, can be used for making yogurt.

Speciality coffee shops have focused on the supply chain, direct trade, sustainable trade. They now need to look at what happens after they have brewed an excellent cup of coffee.