By Catherine Franks
We passed another milestone today on the way back to normal. Like with everything else the new normal for us does not mean returning to how we once were. Instead of returning to ceramic cups for sitting in we have chosen to switch to Huskee Cups and here are the reasons why.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. George Bernard Shaw
Huskee cups are durable as well as reusable and have a few important features. We have sold these cups in our shop as reusables for customers for over a year and in that time I have drunk pretty much every coffee out of one. I am a huge fan!
I love Huskee cups because they are really nice to drink from. Although they are made from a composite material which is an eco composite polymer (they are non toxic and BPA free) they do not feel or taste plastic-y in the slightest. They do not absorb flavours or odours and the coffee tastes as clean as drinking from ceramic.
I prefer Huskees to ceramic for two big reasons, both particularly important at Steampunk in the winter! The Huskee cup is much better at keeping your beverage hot for longer as it insulates your beverage against loss of heat. Unlike ceramic, the cup itself never gets cold so doesn't need pre-heating and is less likely to cool that coffee right down.
The super tactile fin design not only keeps the coffee warmer for longer, it lovely to hold and prevents burnt fingers too. The cup is a beautiful ergonomic design and is really comfortable to hold. Personally I love a handle-less design in a coffee cup. It is rare to find a cup that has a really comfortable design of handle that all shapes and sizes of fingers can fit in*. And don't get me started about saucers. I know I cannot be alone it hating the things, though I'm aware that this is controversial and some people are fans, give me the simplicity of a lone cup any day. The main problem of a cup without handles is one of burnt fingers.
* For some coffee drinkers with less manual dexterity or different physical needs, a handle may be required. In which case please request a cup with a handle at the point of order and we will be happy to oblige.
Huskees are a clever design innovation which repurposes a waste material (they are 50% coffee husks) and creates a new product which can itself be endlessly recycled. When designing the Huskee cup, the manufacturers considered the end of life of the product. Their innovation is called Huskee Loop and their goal is to ensure over 90% of everything they make is collected and re-purposed into new Huskee products. Their unique bio-polymer is what makes it possible. Built from waste coffee husk and a PP based resin, they have chosen materials for durability, food safety and the ability to re-purpose. The waste stream of the product at the end of the life is built into its very design as it must be for a circular rather than extractive system. As we sell and use Huskee Cups here at Steampunk we welcome you to return them to us at the end of their (very long) life so that we can return them to Huskee for remaking into new products.
The world has changed, we have changed
If there is one thing we can agree on it is that nothing is the same as it was back in those innocent days of 2019. The pandemic has changed us and in many ways we have embraced this change and feel it is for the better. One of the biggest shifts that has happened at Steampunk since we have reopened for seating, is that we are now operating in a self service style. This has had the effect of massively reducing waiting times for customers and we have had great feedback about this from you all.
Customers collect their drinks and cakes from the counter and then also clear their tables. This has enabled us to operate within our current staff levels and capabilities, allowing us to spend time crafting great drinks and giving great service at the counter rather than running around with trays clearing tables. It may not seem likely from the customer's perspective but this small change has been an absolute revelation in terms of workload for the team and speed of service for the customer.
It was vital that, when we brought back reusable cups, that they would work well in this new self service format. Our team are well aware of how heavy trays full of ceramic cups (and those infernal saucers) are but maybe most customers don't realise. We needed the trays to remain light for customers to carry and also for the cups to be unbreakable in case the worst should happen and they are dropped on our concrete floor. We feel that Huskees fit the bill perfectly. They stack beautifully, irrespective of size, and can easily be dropped off by customers for collection and washing by the team.
Huskee cups are dishwasher friendly, vital in these Covid times. Now that we finally have a working dishwasher again (that was an adventure in itself in these 2021 logistics/pandemic/post Brexit times) we are super excited to be able to start using Huskees for our customers.
Reuse is the way of the future
There is no question that in order to be as environmentally conscious as possible we need to focus on reuse rather than recycling. At Steampunk we have long championed reuse over recycling. Regulars may be aware that our composting system here at Steampunk suffered a set back last month. Up until this Autumn we had been using the Vegware 'Close the Loop' system to compost our disposable cups along with our food waste. We had managed to get this collection to come out to North Berwick since 2018 by working together with Archerfield Walled Garden who also wanted to compost their disposables. Sadly despite a few years of trying we were unable to convince other local businesses to join in collections and suddenly in September the service was cancelled as it was no longer viable to arrange these collections for just two businesses. That left us suddenly with no viable waste stream for our compostable cups other than landfill.
Even if 'compostable disposables' are composted properly via commercial hot composting they are a resource heavy and wasteful option. Think of the energy and resources required to make the cups, ship the cups, ship the waste and compost the cups! Far better to wash and reuse a cup. Now that we have reopened for indoor seating we were anxious to move away from disposable cups.
We have accepted customers' own reusable cups right through the past year and a half of pandemic, using our no contact tray system to refill safely for both customer and staff. We continue to welcome reusable cups and offer a 20p discount whenever you bring yours. You are welcome to do so whether you are sitting in or taking away. So if you do have a favourite cup or mug, you love ceramic, you want to drink out of a jam jar, whatever your preference, you are welcome to bring that along with you and sit in with it.
You can even bring a saucer!!