For most us, we’re unable to complete the simplest of tasks until we’ve had our morning coffee. That caffeine fix has to fit into our busy lifestyles, which often means it’s picked up on the go as we complete the school drop-off, make our way to work or head into a day full of study.
Planet Ark estimates that every 30 minutes in Australia 50,000 disposable coffee cups become landfill. The extent of our coffee habits was also highlighted in 2017 by Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste, and since then café-regulars have become more aware of their daily habits and practices; embracing the many reusable cups on offer. But there are still many barriers to overcome.
Henham Rous may have found an answer to these barriers with his sustainable keep cup initiative, One Good Cup.
Growing up exposed to sustainable farming practices and with experience working in hospitality, it wasn’t a surprise when Henham started thinking of easier ways for users to embrace reusable coffee cups.
Teaming up with the brains behind Australian Primary Hemp, the team spent months researching takeaway coffee culture – trying to identify areas where the process could be improved.
“We’ve found through all the research we’ve done, not just in Geelong but also in Melbourne, that convenience and hassle is so key to trying to encourage the next wave of people to get on the concept,” he says.
“There are a lot of people who are early adopters and quite vigilant in the habit of using keep cups – we realise that’s not for everyone and not everyone is like that. So, we’re asking, ‘How can we reduce those barriers?’ Cleaning the cup came up as a big hassle.”
For Henham, it isn’t about guilting users into something that’s good for the planet, it’s about finding something that is convenient and easy to use while having a positive impact on the world we live in. As he says, “We’re not here to take a moral high ground.”
So, just how do we tackle the hassle of cleaning the reusable cup? The solution was something that relied on the support and enthusiasm from cafes.
The key to One Good Cup centres around its convenience. Users who sign up to the subscription are given one reusable cup and one token. The token can be used to redeem a cup from one of the Café Champions when placing your order. When you’ve used a cup, and here’s where it really matters, that dirty cup can then be taken back to participating cafes for either a token to use again at a later date or for another clean One Good Cup with your next order.
“The beautiful thing about this system is [café staff] don’t have to clean it there and then. They can leave it to the side, get a fresh one and deal with it when they have time,” Henham says.
The cups have been designed for use in industrial dishwashers, so café staff can simply add the reusable cups to their daily washing and stack it with the clean ones waiting for the next One Good Cup user to come along.
It’s even being added in as an option with ordering apps in Geelong, allowing the coffee to be made from the moment it’s ordered rather than waiting for the reusable cup to arrive at the café.
Since launching in May 2019 at Soft Café in Herne Hill, One Good Cup is now located at 40 locations across Geelong and the Surf Coast – even at a café in Colac.
Some of the cafes that have joined the startup’s mission to reduce throw-away coffee cups are A Spot for Joe, Neck of the Woods, 9 Grams, the Driftwood Café and Geelong West Social Club.
“We’re very privileged and very lucky to be working with cafes with great reputations and who are also determined to help reduce waste,” Henham says, also thanking the knowledge they’ve shared with him to help perfect the concept.
While Henham spent months perfecting the process, he was also tackling the design, look and feel of the reusable cup itself.
Initially the team hoped to make a cup from hemp fibres, but instead found a mixture of bamboo and corn fibre to be the winning formula.
“The idea with us is to try and keep it simple to begin with; having one size, it’s stackable, it has a twist lid and it stays on. We couldn’t source one from hemp, but that’s something for the future evolution,” he says.
“We’re certainly open to improving and evolving the product.”
That’s where One Good Cup is uniquely different. With its existence coming to light from research on what users wanted, it will continue to ensure it satisfies those wants into the future.
Four months in and Henham is grateful that with every One Good Cup used, it’s one less throw-away coffee cup in Geelong.
“We’re having a red-hot crack,” Henham smiles.
Written and photographed by Amanda Sherring.
Photos were taken at a spot for joe which is a Cafe Champion of One Good Cup.