Have you ever wondered what happens to your coffee cup after you throw it away? Well, it might surprise you to know that, every year, a staggering 16 billion (yes, with a B) are thrown away. Since most coffee cups have a layer of plastic inside, this means that they do not biodegrade, and a majority of these 16 billion cups end up in landfills all over the world. What’s more, in the US alone, there are 14 million tons of Styrofoam cups that are thrown away each year, with many of them used for a single serving of coffee.
This is a huge environmental problem that coffee lovers want to tackle using edible coffee cups.
What are edible coffee cups, and are they a viable solution to all the non-recyclable waste generated by single-serve coffee cups?
The Edible Coffee Cup
It is exactly what the name suggests: a vessel that holds your coffee and one that you can eat after you’ve finished drinking!
Today, there are dozens of companies around the world who are trying to limit their waste by switching from wasteful single-use coffee cups to edible coffee cups. These edible coffee cups range from baked goods such as cookies and biscotti to chocolate-lined wafer cones, and even cup-shaped items made from a mixture of different grains such as rice, millet, and wheat.
Do They Really Work?
To a point, yes, edible coffee cups will work. For edible coffee cups made from wafers, bread, or pastries, there needs to be a hydrophobic layer that separates the coffee from the surface of the cup. This prevents the cup from becoming soggy and falling apart too quickly. The most common ingredient used is a layer of hardened chocolate glaze inside the edible coffee cup. On the other hand, for edible coffee cups that are made from grains, you can add the coffee directly to the cup.
One of the best things about using edible coffee cups (aside from reducing waste) is that the flavors of the coffee cup often complement the coffee beautifully. If you are using a cookie or biscotti edible coffee cup, you have a pairing made in heaven!
What are the Drawbacks of Edible Coffee Cups?
The biggest drawback of edible coffee cups is that they are usually not heat-stable. If you add hot coffee to edible coffee cups made from baked goods or wafer cones, the chocolate layer will melt too quickly, and the coffee will leak through. This means that you are either limited to cold coffee drinks, or you won’t be able to move around with your coffee. However, most manufacturers now have developed edible coffee cups that are heat resistant and can hold hot drinks for up to forty minutes. So it is best to drink your hot coffee in one sitting.
Another important drawback is that edible coffee cups are not suitable for storage or transport. They are often fragile and have a short shelf life. This is why many coffee companies still prefer to use single-serve coffee cups.
Is There a Future for Edible Coffee Cups?
Yes! And not only should be there a future, but edible coffee cups should also be THE future for drinking single-serve coffee. The technology for making edible coffee cups is improving, and it is quite possible that someone will invent an edible coffee cup that is heat-resistant, durable, and can be kept for long periods and not only for forty minutes.
Until that time comes, you should make the effort to patronizing coffee shops and other businesses that have switched to using edible coffee cups. That way, you can have your coffee and eat (the coffee cup) too!