Addicted to Our Favorite Mugs: KeepCup

A KeepCup glass ceramic mug stands underneath an espresso machine pouring coffee.

How a takeaway mug can create just as strong of an attachment to your coffee routine as a stay-home one.

BY YKER VALERIO
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of KeepCup

Recently, we’ve been exploring the traits of coffee mugs and how presentation and design can experience the way you enjoy your coffee. Today, we’re unlocking the secrets behind the brand KeepCup and what goes into designing an aesthetic and functional takeaway mug.

As COVID continues to distance coffee lovers from indoor spaces, it is pretty likely that most people have their coffee on the go these days. Since KeepCup started in 2009 in Australia, it changed takeaway coffee and the convenience culture around it. To some extent, the unique reusable cup—known for its stylish structure and signature cork/silicon sleeves—has become a beloved object in attempts at replacing the anonymous disposable cup.

KeepCup CEO and co-founder Abigail Forsyth shared interesting insights about the company’s journey. Here we explore how KeepCup designs for usability, why they put drinking pleasure first, and more.

KeepCups are made to be perfect for pouring.

Designed for Baristas

Abigail and Jamie Forsyth started KeepCup after years of running a café business. “Coming from a coffee industry background, we wanted to ensure the KeepCup worked well behind the machine as well as for the customer,” says Abigail.

Every aspect of the product reveals a thoughtful design process behind it—to appeal not only to coffee drinkers but to capture the hearts of baristas as well. According to Abigail, “To ensure the perfect pour, our products are drafted vessels and fit under coffee machine groupheads to keep extraction and crema intact. KeepCup sizes were chosen to deliberately replicate industry-standard single-use cup volumes for correct coffee-to-milk ratio. And, our firm easy-to-press-on lids are designed not only for drinking pleasure on the go, but the ease of café workflow and speed of service.”

As a barista, imagine getting to pour flawless latte art into a to-go cup. It sure beats paper, right? 

Maintaining Great Taste

At times, the taste of coffee can dramatically change based on whether it’s in a to-go cup or an in-house mug. The way coffee oxidizes heavily affects this, and Keep Cup definitely recognizes that.

In terms of the sensory experience, Keep Cup paid attention to these details by devising a splash-proof, press-fit lid that allows room for the nose to smell and inhale, while the mouthpiece aims for the best liquid flow and aroma release.

Such a detailed design process also focuses on functionality in terms of drinking coffee while we walk (no-spill enjoyment), or enjoying a pleasant view outdoors. But functionality isn’t everything. A truly favorite mug goes a step further.

KeepCup has a build-your-own design tool, which allows customers to pick out the colors for every aspect of their mug.

Personality in Colors

Positive emotions in coffee drinking are a powerful driving force, and KeepCup channels these emotions through their marketing and design. 

In the words of Abigail, KeepCup’s “ultimate goal is to create a feeling of real pleasure so that your KeepCup becomes your preferred drinking vessel. One of the main drivers of the environmental movement is joy.”

Colors are crucial for both KeepCup’s aesthetics and users’ identity. Picking clothes, for example, makes a personal statement, and selecting specific colors for self-expression is powerful. Similarly, KeepCup has been using colors to create a stronger connection between the coffee drinker and the cup. To do this, they’ve formulated a Design Your Own Brew tool on the website, which allows users to customize everything from the color of the mug components to the material of the sleeve

“On social media, we’ve seen customers matching their KeepCups to their clothing, and even their dogs! Providing a bespoke design option allows people to find a KeepCup that is the perfect fit for them and expresses their individuality,” explains Abigail. 

Final Thoughts

As KeepCup has solidified its place in the industry for style and functionality, they ultimately focus on the takeaway mug as a sustainable business venture. It’s a strong example of a company that has been growing through the combination of a solid design process and a strong corporate identity to serve its customers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yker Valerio (he/him) is a freelance content creator. After more than 10 years of working as a management consultant, he started his blog Bon Vivant Caffè to share his passion for specialty coffee.

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