Kuksa: a cup for life

It turns out that the “betacup” has an ancient history! The people in Lapland (Finland) have been using a handmade wooden drinking cup — called a “kuksa” — for thousands of years!

These wooden bowls are usually made of birch, hand carved, treated and cured, and then carried by the belt throughout the day…and throughout people’s lifetimes. They were used for drinking everything: milk, water, tea, coffee. And a well-made cup would last forever.

It’s interesting that these simple, yet unique, drinking vessels became so intimately connected to the people who created them. Perhaps a bond is created when you produce an object with your own hands? (You can make one yourself, even: how to craft a classic kuksa cup.) Perhaps the simplicity of the design and the practice of attaching the cup to your belt made them a necessary part of the everyday culture?

Either way, the betacup team can learn a lot from the kuksa. We hope to create a modern kuksa, but for city-dwellers with fast-paced lifestyles. We want coffee drinkers to feel a personal connection to their betacup; and we want the betacup to become their cup for life.

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Posted in: Inspiration | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments

9 Comments to “Kuksa: a cup for life”

  1. Toby says:

    There’s something powerful about being able to personalize or even craft your own cup. You’ll treasure it, show it off to others and always remember to take it with you.

  2. Joe says:

    My biggest concern is with disease and rodents/insects/filth. Wasn’t the advent of the paper cup brought about because of the influenza epidemic of 1918? Idea that it was more sterile to have disposable cups than ones you reuse? Too, how much energy is consumed in commercial dishwashers cleaning customers’ cups?

    I’m all for sustainability–but in these days of swine flu, let’s not forget sanitation.

  3. Pipp says:

    Unless you are sharing your cup around sanitation is not as big of an issue as you might think. But you do have to rince your drink out, especially if you are a sugar or milk user.

    I have had my hand on one of these mugs in Finland. I think that there is one really good aspect to them, they are really light! They are far lighter than any of the travel mugs I have ever seen. So if a designer wants to take anything from this cup, make your cup light weight! No one like carrying extra weight in their bag if you don’t need to!

  4. rusbravo says:

    I have a kuska, It feels nice in your hand and looks beautiful but the resin in the wood leaches into the coffee and makes it taste like birch. That might go away if I used it more often.

  5. While this topic can be very challenging for most people, my opinion is that there has to be a middle or common ground that we all can find. I do appreciate that you’ve added relevant and rational commentary here though. Very much thanks to you!

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  6. ron says:

    Here is my 5 cents on topic kuksa.
    I made this one out of Oak burl several months ago and it serves me well. And it is true that you got attached to your hands “kuksa” creation since you made it to use it for your life.

  7. maarten says:

    Just started on my first kuksa. Not to have a sustainable drinking vessel nor the bond you create carving a piece of wood. But to understand that items how small can be interesting or inspire people. I can talk days about the spoons I carve and I’m half way through my first kuksa and I love to tell anyone interested about the wood, knifes used, wood grains, preservation, history ect ect ect. In the end, what are we talking about? A cup!

    Best regards,


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