Like many people, I have good intentions when it comes to my morning caffeine. I don’t really want to use the paper cups (and plastic lids) that won’t biodegrade for a long while, if ever. So, I leave the house with a reusable cup. Very often though, that half-empty cup sits in my car's center console until it becomes a foul-smelling thing that I avoid looking at. If I stop for another coffee, and my cup is dirty and gross, I end up exactly where I didn't intend to be: With one of those waterproof paper cups in my hand. Drink, throw away, repeat, adding to the billions that get tossed each year.
Arsalan Pourmand, the owner of Flux Coffee in Farmingdale, has peered into the minds of coffee drinkers like me and has learned our flaws. A few weeks ago, he devised a workaround: A reusable coffee mug (a KeepCup, specifically) that you can buy, swill coffee from, then bring back to Flux manky and gross. The staff will show no judgment — instead, they'll take that cup and hand you another one, shiny and (almost) new and filled with your single origin of choice. The dirty cup you just turned in gets cleaned and sterilized for a future customer. “It’s something we’ve been working on a long time,” Pourmand said.
The stars of the Xchange Cup Club (Pourmand also calls it a “cup share”) are branded 12 or 16-ounce plastic KeepCups that you purchase for $15 or $17, respectively. The first cup of coffee is free, said Pourmand, and each refill gets a 25 cent discount thereafter.
Also taking part is Blacksmith’s Breads in Long Beach, which co-owner Raymond Smith said serves all on-site coffee drinks in reusable cups (“a little incentive for helping the planet”) but are also now offering the Xchange Cup Club KeepCups at the same price as Flux.
With only two places on a sprawling Island taking part, though, can the cup share make a dent in coffee-cup waste? Pourmand hints a few other businesses are soon to come on board.