New Starbucks Refillable Cup: Worth the Money?

January 4, 2013

Is the new Starbucks refillable cup worth the money?

News broke today that there is a new Starbucks refillable cup that is supposed to save customers money and cut down on waste. That is, customers will pay $1 upfront for the cup, and then when they use it at Starbucks, they will get a $.10 discount. Starbucks will be going green by cutting down on waste by not having to use disposable cups. Also, this refillable cup is recyclable.

But is it worth $1 to buy a cup that won’t last you indefinitely? Starbucks already offered  the 10 cent discount if you brought your own reusable mug or tumbler in with you.

According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, this new Starbucks refillable cup will have lines on the inside so the barista will know how much coffee to add, based on your order–tall, grande, venti, you know the drill. And it claims that Starbucks will rinse out the cup with boiling water before filling it with coffee. I’d rather put my cup in the dishwasher at home.

I’m assuming that this refillable cup is made of plastic–so what is its shelf life? That same Tampa Bay Business Journal article said that the cup had been tested in 600 stores already. But what the article doesn’t say is how long the cup lasted, or, after plunking down $1 for the cup, how soon you would have to pay another $1 for a new Starbucks refillable cup.

Starbucks isn’t the only coffee chain that offers a discount when you bring your own cup. Here are a few others that I’ve found:

  • Caribou Coffee: According to Caribou Coffee’s Facebook page, you’ll save $.50 off the purchase price of your coffee when you supply a reusable mug or cup.
  • Peet’s: Not only does Peet’s give you 10 cents off a drink when you bring your own cup, but if you buy their bagged coffee, you’ll get 25 cents off when you reuse the bag.

I have heard through the grapevine that Panera Bread and Wawa offer discounts to customers who bring a reusable tumbler or mug from home. If I can get that information confirmed, I will update this post.

In the meantime, maybe if the Starbucks discount was larger–say $.25 off per cup when using the Starbucks-issued refillable cup versus $.10 when you use your own–that might be an incentive to pay for the cup. But otherwise this just doesn’t seem to be worth the money or the effort.

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2 Responses to New Starbucks Refillable Cup: Worth the Money?

  1. Andria on January 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    As a former Starbucks barista, I can honestly see the incentive to get the Starbucks cup (not that I probably will). At the store where I worked, we always encouraged people to bring their own mugs, but it’s often difficult to gauge how many ounces is in a particular cup, and therefore get the ratio of milk and espresso right–of course, this doesn’t matter if you’re just drinking coffee. Also, we weren’t actually allowed to stir the drinks we put into people’s own mugs for fear of cross contamination. So having the lines on the cup makes it more likely that you’ll get a more consistent espresso-based beverage, but if you’re just drinking coffee, bring what you already have.

    • Leah Ingram on January 7, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you for sharing that point of view. Since I’m just a straight coffee gal, sounds like Bring My Own makes the most sense for me!

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