By Starbucks' own admission, it goes through approximately 4 billion disposable paper coffee cups every year – and that's just one company. If java consumers want to reduce that sort of waste, they can of course bring their own reusable cup to the coffee shop. Australian startup Huskee is taking things a step further, however. Its reusable cups are actually made from unwanted coffee bean husks.
According to the company, over 1.35 million tonnes (1.48 million tons) of coffee bean husk waste is generated globally on an annual basis. Although those husks have been used as fertilizer, they are generally just dumped.
Huskee is buying husks from coffee plantations in Yunnan (near the border of China and Myanmar), and converting them into a ceramic resin. That resin is used to make the coffee cups, which are reportedly chip/crack-resistant, microwave/dishwasher-safe, stackable and recyclable. And no, the material doesn't have a taste, so it won't make your coffee taste like … well, coffee.
Other features include surface-area-reducing "fins" on the sides that keep you from burning your fingers, internal contours that assist with milk integration, and grooves in the base that allow wash water to drain off of upturned cups instead of pooling on the bottom. Additionally, the resin is claimed to offer better thermal retention (it keeps coffee hot longer) than regular ceramics.
The cups are currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, and are initially being offered in three sizes with accompanying saucers. Pledges start at AUD$45 (about US$35), which will get you a set of four 6-oz (180-ml) cups if everything works out.