In the Future, We All Carry Mugs


“What size cup would you like? Small, Medium, Large, Super, Tall, Grande, Venti, Super-Venti, Hungover or perhaps Recession Special?”

“None of the above, please.”

It’s a dream I have. Follow me on a choose-your-own-post journey into the What If.

It’s the future, a greener, more enlightened time. You drop in on your local coffee vendor – let’s call it McStarMart – ready for a cup of exquisitely roasted bean-juice to kick start your day. You’re standing quietly in the queue, and – something odd is going on.

People are reaching into their pockets and bags and briefcases, and they’re pulling out mugs of all shapes and kinds. When they reach the counter, they pass them to the barista, who fills them up with their beverage of choice.

There are no disposable cups.

All the machines have counters on them, the numbers whirling when the taps are opened, and you realise that people are being charged for how much liquid goes into their own mugs.

When they’ve finished their drink, they bring the mug to the counter where the barista washes it for them and hands it back. Everyone’s cup is daubed in fun colors and has their name.

This was all sparked by reading Shawna Coronado’s Great Coffee Cup Challenge last week. Then I read the same thing at WiseBread and elsewhere. And it got me thinking.

Isn’t using recycled material for disposable cups still ducking the real issue – that we’re throwing things away? We all have our favorite mugs at work so why not take them out into the street? Take-outs are more fun, and drinking in-house becomes more homey.

How to start?

Coffeehouses should reward people who bring their own, such as knocking $0.50 off the price. They already sell mugs, for Peet’s sake.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a mug into ye olde Starbucks and ask them to fill it. I used to work there in my student days and they already know I’m eccentric, so I’m sure they’ll oblige my green bean yen.

Image: Sarah Jane

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.