The Origin of the Disposable Coffee Cup

None of us ever think about the lowly coffee cup yet all of us would be surprised if we come to know of its origin. If you actually want to know the origin of the coffee cup, you would first have to trace the history of the disposable water cup. So that’s how it all started, it started with water.

After the civil war, the temperance movement became popular. Temperance activists started visiting cities and streets, offering people to drink water as a healthier alternative to alcohol. The cities became dotted with fountains which had fresh drinking water.

The cups which were offered were made of metal and was passed around from one person to another. It was the cup used by many to drink water from. Americans were slowly learning about diseases spread through germs. Lawrence Luellen, was a Boston lawyer and inventor who was particularly worried about so many people drinking water from a single cup. In 1907 he invented the disposable water cup. It was no way near to the present day drinking cup but looked more like a small bag.

After the World War One the disposable culture already had a strong foothold in America. This was also the time the Spanish Flu came in, it killed around half a million people. This started the boom in the demand of disposable cups.

The coffee cup origins

We no longer drink coffee or water out of Dixie cups, however the humble water dup was getting a revamped look. Even war beverages were being served in disposable coffee cups. In 1933 a patent was passed in Ohio which asked for a handle to be attached to the pare cups. These cups were meant to mimic mugs. However, the 1960’s saw a revolution in the actual shaping of the coffee cup in the form of the foam cup, the anthora cup, the tear able lid and seven eleven.

People had already started experimenting with polystyrene to be used commercially. Factories were set up which shaped expanded polystyrene into different shapes. For the next twenty years styrene cups were a popular choice for hot beverages like coffee. Times were changing and Americans were turning to lattes and cappuccinos. The signature froth was so very important. It became necessary to design a lid with a dome shape so that the froth remained firmly I its place.

However environmentalists became an in thing in the nineteen eighties. People began to realize that styrene was not an eco-friendly material. It began to be replaced with paper. However the final nail in the coffin for the styrene cups was because of a decision made by star bucks. Since Star Bucks decided to go with paper cups, the styrene cups never made a comeback. And so paper coffee cups were a thing again.

Though several coffee cup designs have evolved since then, the future of the disposable coffee cup is still bright. It is something which we would be seeing a great deal in the future, no matter how many designs or keep sake cups are brought out.


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