Ruminations over Coffee
Behold the Starbucks Coffee Cup.
Certainly one of the most used and most widely recognized objects in North America.
Certainly you would think if anything about this cup could be optimized and improved upon, it would have already be done. For example, notice the convenient half-height grip which prevents you from burning your hand. It’s not a full-height grip, which may get in the way of your SUV’s cup holder, nor is it a full-on extra cup, which would be expensive for the store. Well done.
However, there is still a great flaw with the Starbucks Coffee Cup. It is NOT designed for walkers.
Perhaps it is assumed that people who drink coffee do not walk.
Or perhaps there is an underlying suggestion that one should drink their coffee AT Starbucks, negating the need to design the cup for non-walkers.
But even that suggestion is faulty.
Take a look at the cup, with lid. The problem for walkers is immediately apparent. If you don’t drink the coffee right away, you will splash it out the gigantic drinking hole as you walk. But of course the beverage is at its hottest at the very beginning, so you’d have to BURN YOUR MOUTH in order to do this. The alternative is to get LESS coffee, thus reducing the chance of splashage. But why on earth would one do that??
I’ve devised a scheme which helps, which is to put a stirring stick into the hole and then cover it with a napkin. This prevents splashage for a time, with the stick reducing splash and the napkin catching splash, but if one’s walk is longer than 100 paces the coffee wicks up the stick and spreads out through the napkin, creating a huge mess.
If one uses just the stick, that reduces splashage somewhat, but one must still be quite careful – which I am not, as evidenced by this cup’s messy lid.
Unfortunately, even if we solve the splashage problem, there is yet another issue with the cup design. See the cup rim? The location where the cardboard joins at the rim is quite problematic. Again, if you drink your coffee quickly you might not notice. But if you walk with the coffee for any distance, the jostling motion will urge coffee THROUGH this tiny little gap and it will drop, boiling hot, onto your hand. NOT recommended.
One should note that in the awkward situation where you are drinking from a Starbucks Coffee Cup and the rim join is accidentally located coincident with the drinking hole, you are really in trouble and best hope that you’re not wearing anything you won’t appreciate turning into a coffee-colored art piece.
So the moral of the story here seems to be, “use a damn travel cup, you idiot”. But when I’m traveling, the last thing I want to do is CARRY A TRAVEL CUP in my luggage.
I think there is a market for some solutions here.
The first thing that comes to mind is a Starbucks Coffee Cup Steadicam. This device takes the lessons learned from steadying film cameras and applies it to steadying coffee. What could be better? Of course, the full-torso harness and lack of compactness may be a hindrance. But you’d be bound to get appreciative looks from envious fellow walkers.
Another possibility could be a Starbucks Coffee Cup Stopper. This simple device, placed in the drinking hole, would put an end to splashage and reduce coffee errors to simple rim join accidents. Starbucks could carry them in-store and give them to anyone who is walking. Fancier models could be available for purchase and include a one-way drinking valve.
I suppose ultimately the right answer would be a lid without drinking holes, which vacuum seals over the rim of the cup. This would remove splashage as well as rim join accidents. But then once again I’d probably have to carry it with me when I travel, which is just NOT going to happen.
Maybe I’ll just switch to espresso.