Category archives: Uncategorized

The Finale

Posted by justin on Thursday, 17 June 2010

We were able to bring together great creative minds from around the world to tackle a complex and important challenge. We’ve been absolutely floored by both the process and the winning submissions.

There were 430 submissions and these were updated on average of at least 3 times in response to more than 5,000 ratings and 13,000 comments. We believed that good ideas might come from anywhere, but now we also believe the same is true of great feedback that helps make ideas better.

We’d like to thank our partners, our jurors, the participants and everyone who contributed their time and energy to writing about the project, creating submissions, and rating and commenting on ideas. We’re looking forward to helping these ideas into action.

Jury Winners:


Karma Cup (Mira Holley, Nick Partridge, Gillian Langor, Mira Lynn, Zarla Ludin, Ruth Prentice)

Special Mentions:

The Betacup & The Betacup Campaign (Jesko Stoetzer)

Champion Cup (Raph D’Amico) –

Band of Honor (Scott Moorhead) –

Community Rating Winners:

1. The Betacup & The Betacup Campaign (Jesko Stoetzer) Berlin

2. Cuptokeep (Katarina Mattsson & Angelica Lindgren) Stockholm

3. The NextCup (Wouter Middendorf) Rotterdam

4. The Neutral Resource Coffee Cup (Aaronn Levine) Solomon Islands

5. Networked Loyalty (joshbg2k) Brooklyn

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Announcing the winners of the betacup challenge

Posted by justin on Wednesday, 9 June 2010

On Thursday, June 17 2010 we will be announcing the winners of the betacup contest.

We’ll be streaming live at 3:00pm EST (21:00 CEST) at

We’ll be announcing:

+ the top 5 ideas as selected by the community
+ the top submissions and overall winner selected by the jury

We’ll review what has happened so far and explain what happens next. And there are lots of people to thank, so we’d like to do that too.

If you are in New York City and would like to join us for the event, please contact us.

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Enter the Instructables Coffee Cup Challenge to win a Voltaic Systems solar backpack!

Posted by justin on Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Repurposing and re-use are important components of waste reduction. Most recycling requires a great deal of energy or resources; melting down glass or aluminum or hydropulping paper are expensive and wasteful in their own ways. Re-use uses the waste product essentially as-is, requiring far less energy and reprocessing to create something useful out of a product that would ordinarily end up in the landfill: turning innertubes into wallets or drink pouches into backpacks just takes a little time and ingenuity.

The Instructables community is full of smart people who are great at transforming waste products into clever inventions, so we’re teaming up with them to bring you the Coffee Cup Challenge. Right now, we’re working with you to generate ideas to reduce paper coffee cup waste, but there are still a lot of paper cups being thrown away. The Coffee Cup Challenge is all about repurposing those paper cups into something new; they could be made into laptop speakers, umbrellas, or giant robots – we need your creativity. Great ideas will earn themselves a solar backpack from Voltaic Systems or $25 to use at Starbucks.

And a little re-use bonus for all you true DIYers who make their own coffee at home: 10 uses for coffee grounds instead of dumping them in the trash.

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Vacuum Flasks – A good start

Posted by justin on Tuesday, 6 April 2010

One of the approaches to the paper cup issue we’re seeing at the betacup is that of product redesign. Some submissions are suggesting stainless steel or aluminum reusable cups, and for good reason: plastic tends to leach taste (and chemicals) into your drink and discolor rapidly when holding liquids like coffee or juice. The issue with putting coffee in a steel or aluminum container is that of temperature: metal is, obviously, an excellent conductor of heat and will rapidly become as hot as the beverage inside.

Companies like Thermos and Hydroflask have stepped around this problem with vacuum flasks: a double wall of stainless steel with a vacuum in between, then sealed at the top. The technology works well: Hydroflask and Thermos claim hot liquids will stay hot for 12 hours and the layer of air means you won’t burn your hands trying to drink out of the container.

There’s a bigger issue here than product design, however. Consumers know these products are out there but adoption is low (see Why we don’t switch to reusable). Vacuum flasks are still bulky, although Thermos includes a cup and Hydroflask has slimmed theirs down to a more standard sports-bottle profile.

In my mind, though the biggest issue is cleaning them – particularly if you put milk or cream in your coffee. The mouths of the bottles tend to be too small to get a sponge or dishcloth into them, and they’re deep enough to usually require a bottle brush or the ‘fill-with-soapy-water-and-shake-and-rinse-and-rinse-and-rinse’ method. Vacuum flasks are not dishwasher safe; the seam that connects the two stainless layers can crack in the dishwasher and ruin the insulating properties of the vacuum layer.

How can we overcome these problems? Submit your ideas at

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Exchange your used cup for a reusable mug

Posted by Marcel Botha on Friday, 19 March 2010

Our friends from Starbucks are doing something fun today. They are constructing a coffee cup tree artwork next to Madison Square Park in New York. It is hard to perceive the overall effect at ground level, but I am sure there will be plenty of opportunity to see documentation of the completed project. We also liked the Mona Lisa, made for the Aroma Festival in 2009. (Video)

Starbucks Coffee Tree

If you are in New York today, walk over and exchange a used paper cup for a reusable mug.  Starbucks are handing these out while supplies last. This initiative is an easy way for the you to be engaged and start changing your coffee drinking habits. I include here a photo of my paper cup transaction. You will notice that the cup is in fact a Holiday Season cup (we collect paper cups), since betacup members incur a $10 fine when using paper cups. This is our internal challenge to make sure that we do our bit as we transition to a better outcome through the betacup challenge.

The Cup Transaction

Do your part and start exploring alternative solutions today. All you need is one used paper cup to participate. More images can found here.

Thanks to Elspeth Rountree (@elspethjane)  for pointing us to this.

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the betacup prize: What happens next?

Posted by admin on Monday, 4 January 2010

Hello and Happy New Year

First, we would like to thank you again for supporting betacup by pledging and in many cases asking others to do the same.

By now you have likely received a notification from Kickstarter that we did not reach our goal (so no pledges were accepted).

So now what happens?

Fear not, the project will continue and we are still just as committed towards our goal of eliminating paper cup waste.

The good news is that thanks to your efforts in helping us to raise awareness we have been approached by a number of corporate sponsors who have indicated that they also want to support the prize.

Ideally we would have completed our negotiations before then end of 2009, but it is still ongoing and we hope to have some good news and make an announcement very soon.

Once we know how much prize money we have secured from sponsors we will run another Kickstarter campaign for a smaller target of $3000 – $5000 to form our “people’s choice” award.

Thanks again for your support, we look forward to following up with you.

the betacup team

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Share your coffee drinking routine with us

Posted by admin on Monday, 28 September 2009

On a recent trip to San Francisco we asked a couple of regular coffee drinkers to share their typical coffee routine with us. As with our initial survey, the responses were incredibly interesting and in some cases a little surprising, especially when we asked about their reasons for using a reusable cup (or not).

I was particularly interested in the responses from the last couple when they were asked about using reusable cups.  Both expressed a preference for using a reusable cup whenever possible, but while the gentleman remembered his because he carries it around in his backpack, the woman was actually drinking out of a paper cup because she had left her reusable at her class.

What is your coffee routine? from the betacup on Vimeo.

We’d love to collect more of these examples.  What is your routine?  Do you use a reusable cup or do you prefer disposable paper cups?

You can either share yours with us through a video response or fill out our survey at

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A beta way to a betacup

Posted by shaunabe on Friday, 25 September 2009

In May 2009 Toby (@tobyd)  talked to us about his idea for a new, better coffee cup. After he presented the idea, we immediately joined in with ideas of our own.

And after a little back and forth it occurred to us that we might be solving the wrong problem.


1. lots of people are familiar with the problem – 65% of people in the US drink coffee, so tens of millions deal with this problem every day

2. its a shared problem – this problem doesn’t just belong to your favorite beverage brewing brand, we as customers, are complicit

W think lots of people are motivated to solve this problem. Which means there are probably already people with some great ideas.

So we decided we’d come up with a a beta process to get to a betacup.

The simple version of the process looks like this:


Of course, anyone can draw a process. But there are some important details:

1. who participates?

2. who decides?

3. who owns what?

4. what happens afterwards?

We wanted to share our thinking on each of these topics and see what you think.

Who participates?

Like we said, we think lots of people have thought about this. Just look at how many people weigh in at mystarbucksidea. And many of the ideas are pretty good – good enough that Starbucks is acting on them.

So we want anyone to participate in adding ideas, rating them or commenting on them.

We’d like to get to a prototype, so text and sketches wont get you all the way to the end, but we’ll be inviting people who can prototype and we’ll encourage them to team up with folks who have promising ideas, but cant build prototypes.

Who decides?

We would like anyone who participates to be able to decide on winners.

We’ll also have a jury, because there are some stakeholders who will be under-represented. For example, manufacturers might love the winning ideas, but if they cant make them, well, we’re less excited about them. So we want these types of people to weigh in and we’ll ask them to explain if they differ from our popular choices.

Who owns what?

If you submit an idea or a prototype, you still own it. It’s that simple.

Once the awards are done, we’ll do what we can to get the prototypes through manufacturing to market. So we’ll be having discussions with the owners of the most promising designs. We expect a range of outcomes – some people might want to license their designs, other might want to set up companies to commercialize them.

We’ll encourage everything and do what we can to help if we think it will help get the ideas from concepts into the hands of coffee drinks.

Oh yes, the content on this site and the research wiki are licensed under creative commons.

What happens afterwards?

Like we said, our main aim is to take the best idea/s and make sure they get to market. So we’ll start with licensing discussions but then its off to the manufacturers and retailers. Its hard to know what to expect – some approaches will likely be sold to coffee shops and restaurants, while others might be sold directly to customers. We’ll know more once we have a sense of the winning approaches.

For details on the plan and the process, take a look at the betacup wiki.

What do you think? Does this seem fair? Where do you want more details?

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