Reusable to-go glass jars rest on a counter top at the Perch coffee Shop, which stopped using paper and plastic cups in Oakland. AP
A new cafe culture is brewing in the San Francisco area, where a growing number of Coffee houses are banishing paper to-go cups and replacing them with everything from glass jars to rental mugs and BYO cup policies.
What started as a small trend among neighborhood cafes to reduce waste is gaining support from some big names in the city's food and Coffee world.
Celebrated chef Dominique Crenn, owner of the three-star Michelin restaurant Atelier Crenn, is opening a San Francisco cafe next year that will have no to-go bags or disposable Coffee cups and will use no plastic. Customers who plan to sip and go at Boutique Crenn will be encouraged to bring their own Coffee cups, says spokeswoman Kate Bittman.
On a bigger scale, the Blue Bottle Coffeehouse chain, which goes through about 15,000 to-go cups a month at its 70 U.S. locations, says it wants to "show our guests and the world that we can eliminate disposable cups."
Blue Bottle is starting small with plans to stop using paper cups at two of its San Francisco area branches in 2020, as part of a pledge to go "zero waste" by the end of next year. Coffee to-go customers will have to bring their own mug or pay a deposit for a reusable cup, which they can keep or return for a refund. The deposit fee will likely be between $3 and $5, the company said.
Blue Bottle's pilot program will help guide the company on how to expand the idea nationwide, CEO Bryan Meehan said in a statement.
"We expect to lose some business," he said. "We know some of our guests won't like it - and we're prepared for that.”
Small-cafe owner Kedar Korde is optimistic that one day it will become trendy for Coffee drinkers to carry around reusable mugs, just like stainless steel water bottles have become a must-have accessory in the San Francisco area.
Korde's Perch Cafe in Oakland ditched paper and plastic cups in September, along with lids and straws.
"We now offer a glass jar that comes in a 12 ounce (350 millilitres) or 16 ounce (470 millilitres) size," Korde said. Customers put down a 50 cent deposit and can return it for a refund or keep it and get 25 cents off future drinks. The cafe also sells 50 cent reusable sleeves for the jars.
Korde says he's been surprised by how quickly customers have adapted. He was inspired to make the change after his 9-year-old daughter's school did a clean-up project at Lake Merritt, across from his cafe, and found their disposable cups in the water.
His daughter joked that she shouldn't have to clean her room if he couldn't keep his stuff out of the lake, but he took it more seriously.
"We're a small Coffee shop. We're not going to save the world," Korde said. But at least "our cups are no longer winding up in the lake.”
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