What is up with coffee shops that don’t offer mugs? I understand that not every coffee shop has a dishwasher, but how hard can it be to wash a few mugs (okay, maybe a lot of mugs)?


I’ve visited two shops this week that didn’t have mugs. Huh? Not even a few sitting around for customers that ask? If coffee shops are looking for a way to reduce expenses how about using real mugs? It seems like it would be the “green” thing to do.

Also, it is surprising how many shops just assume you want a paper cup. Maybe I’m in the minority here… am I?

Arizona Coffee

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  1. Chris, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, it bugs me that the vast majority of shops don’t ask if you plan to drink your coffee here (and thus put it in a porcelain/ceramic/glass) or are you taking it to go and put your drink in paper/plastic.

    Off the top of my head, Solo comes to mind as the only shop that exemplifies this service style, which is a shame.

  2. It’s better in Boulder. Mugs or glasses are the default at most places.

  3. Dave P

    I like the mug if I’m staying, and yes I think they should ask. Lux – always does. Or anyway always has the times that I’ve been there.

    Ah, Boulder, or my fav – Lyons. The Stone Cup, wonderful place. Incredible cookies.

  4. Didn’t I suggest that you lose a point if you serve drinks for ‘here’ in paper? One sure sign that your host is concerned about quality.
    I can name three shops that won’t serve an espresso in paper at all. Andy at Barefoot wised me up to that. Stopped in on a drive-by, and they suggested that if I couldn’t find time to sit and finish an espresso. I wasn’t going to truly appreciate it anyways.
    They were so right.
    I carry my own mugs nowadays, but occasionally get a drink in paper.
    I carry an old Starbucks mug for those shops that don’t have their own! ; >

  5. ahhhh……….nothing like being served a ~1.5 shot of espresso in a 22 oz paper cup. It’s happened to me more than once. I like Psyd’s idea but would like to carry it a step further. Put a demi on a chain and where it around your neck. You never know when you’ll need it.

  6. SK

    I gotta give it up to Pysd on that last comment……its so true, I’m not going to speak for everyone but I’ve had people walk in my store with *bucks cups and I’ve asked them to pour whatever is they are drinking into one of my own. in fact the exact words were “would you cover yourself for god sake”!! DONT FEED THE BEAST!!!! I have a whole case of Onieda coffee cups I’ll never use if some wants to take them off my hands….

  7. I agree, Chris. If it’s a “for here” order, it should come in a real cup. Another thing that bugs me is multiple sizes of cappuccino.

  8. Tara

    That has become our little niche on the west side. We do over 50% of our coffee business in mugs.

    Steve, so funny about the *bucks cups. We have had people come in with those too. We offer them a free coffee to throw theirs away. Some are receptive, some not. Who walks into a business with a product from another business anyway?

  9. Psyd

    ML Rocker, take it up with the SCAA. They refuse to suggest what a cappuccino is, really, so why should anyone else? Don’t get me started.
    Tara, the reason that I take the *$ mug is that, one; they haven’t got one. If they were a real coffee shop that cared, tehy’d have porcelain for me to drink out of on premises, and two; I am on first name basis with a lot of the baristi that I get coffee from, and tehy find it ironic juxtaposed with the ‘Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks’ bumper sticker.
    Say what you will aout the green monster, but their Archtectural series mugs were fantabulous.
    I do have a regular ole black mug for folks who do have porcelain of thier own, but I need a ‘to go’, and I’m not sure if they’ll ‘get it’ or not.
    OTOH, htere was at least one really excellent coffee shop (some might say it was one of the best in AZ) that wasn’t allowed by the Health Department, to serve in their own non-disposables. You’ll find that at carts and such as well, sometimes, and there has been at least one instance that the Health Department wouldn’t allow a vendor to serve coffee in my mug.
    I coldn’t begin to imagine what legal leg they had to stand on, but I bet that some shop owners out ther do…

  10. Blackbean

    I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. If it was a full service cafe I’d expect it. Besides, most of the coffee shops in the metro area should focus on the quality of the drink and not the presentation.

  11. Blackbean, the right cup is part of the quality. It’s more than presentation. It’s like serving an imperial stout in a pint glass, or a Belgian trippel in a red plastic cup. I’m sure a wine enthusiast can pitch in here, too.

  12. Presentation is essential to the quality of the drink….the best steak in the world served on a plain white plate will not be as good because the chef took no pride in finishing what he had created…..presentation shows the true character of a barista had hopefully the establishment itself. There is a reason the best shops out there make presentation a mandatory requirement…..Coffee is always better in ceramic; as long as it is used properly! Cold ceramic will kill a great shot….Make it the best you can or don’t bother….

  13. Blackbean

    There nothing wrong with presentation. I just think that the quality of the actual drink has to be the focus point when selling a $5 latte. Peace.

  14. Since 70% of your perceived quality is going to be presented by your nose, presentation in a paper cup detracts hugely from quality. This ain’t about snobbishness, BB it’s about taste. Paper cups make the espresso taste like paper. Ceramic, china, porcelain, those don’t.
    I understand that a roadside cart wont have anything but takeaway paper, but the conversation was about coffee shops. ‘Real’ coffee shops have dishes.

  15. Sorry it’s been a bit slow on the site lately. I’ve been busy with projects at work. More stuff planned for this week, however including a “profile” of Luci’s in Phoenix, some thoughts on Mill’s End Espresso. I’m trying to visit some of the shops I rarely get to.

    By the end of this week I should have some photos of Copper Star Coffee up as well. They’re doing a Halloween theme and can’t wait to check it out.

    Anybody else doing anything special for Halloween I should know about?

  16. Italians don’t even have to-go cups, even in the train stations. I’m surprised though, at the lack of ceramics, especially since the Health Dept. makes everybody have a 3-compartment sink…

  17. <<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Haha……..it’s not the 3 compartment sink and the stupid 100 lb grease trap the State requires us to have just because we have a 3 compartment sink even though all some us do is roast (oh yeah, roasting coffee makes a lot of grease). I think it’s partially because either an expensive NSF dish washer is required or manual hand-washing; environment be damned.

  18. OK, first BB, if your paying $5 for a latte it had better be served in gold plated ceramic with Monet quality art on it, or you are just gettin ripped off…. secondly, the presentation is the natural follow up to a quality drink; even a mid quality drink presented correctly will be just a little better for it. You don’t build a ferrari engine and chassis to wrap it in a scion body…..(not meant to offend any scion owners) Third, yes it does take more time and cost more in labor to wash ceramic cups, but the crazy thing about em; once they’re washed you can use them again!!!

  19. Milwaukee is pretty backwards in some respects, but I’ve only come across one place that didn’t have ceramic available for customers. As I recall, our most geeked-out coffee shop actually flouted the law when they first opened by at least serving espresso in ceramic before they were able to install a dishwasher as per code.