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Can you BYO reusable cup in Level 3?

What’s the deal with BYO reusable cups to cafés in Level 3, and should we be worried? We talk to Kate Hall of Ethically Kate who clears things up for both customers and café owners.

The morning of the 28th of April was the morning all coffee lovers (most of New Zealand) woke up and raced to their local cafe for a socially-distanced-takeaway-cuppa. But for some kiwis who practice ‘no cup, no coffee’; it wasn’t that easy.

Are reusables safe? Can they be contactless? Is single-use more hygienic?

A week on, we understand that reusables are safe, they can be filled with no contact required, and when reusable systems are practiced responsibly, single-use is definitely not more hygienic.

Today, reusables are accepted by over 100 cafes nationwide, and they’re on their way to becoming the new norm; again.

Why? Hospitality leadership and people power.

Take Adjo Cafe in Dunedin, for example. When they reopened, accepting reusable cups while following strict health guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health, was all part of the plan. This was the case for many cafes nationwide, such as Daily Daily Coffee Co, Eden Espresso, Peel and Pip, and Modaks Espresso.

“We decided to continue to accept keep cups because we’ve found that with a little effort and organisation, we can do our part to minimise our single use impact, while keeping our customers safe,” say Caitlin & Jonas, Adjo Cafe.

Takeaway cups in landfill

But how do they do it? 

While every cafe is different, Caitlin and Jonas explain, “we have a designated “keep cup” zone, where customers can place their clean keep cups (while keeping their lids) at the entrance to our cafe, and we simply prepare their coffee in a jug at our coffee station, then (while maintaining safe distances) pour the coffee into their cup without making contact with the cup itself. We keep this area frequently sanitised, and we have hand sanitiser available for customers to use.”

It has been clear since day one that cafes who accept reusables are not going against the rules or compromising anyone’s health. “Safety comes first, mother earth is mother earth, but safety comes first,” emphasises Jak from Modak Espresso.

After strong leadership from a handful of innovative and brave cafes, came responsible social media usage from New Zealanders online. After seeing it was possible for cafes to accept reusables successfully, customers messaged or tagged their local cafes via Facebook or Instagram, to ask if they would accept their reusables too. With gracious understanding of the pressure cafes were already under, customers lovingly asked if they would accept reusables or not. To support their favourite cafes during this time, customers opted to purchase vouchers from SOS Cafe to use in the future, if the cafe did not have reusable systems in place yet.

When the Ministry of Health ‘okayed’ reusables on the 30th of April, cafes and coffee goers let out a sigh of relief.

“I wish I was able to send you orders of how many people brought their own keep cups, it was overwhelming!” comments Zaf, of Eden Espresso. 

“Quality is not 100% there; can’t do swan patterns or love hearts,” disclaims Jak, Modak Espresso. Although reusable users won’t be able to enjoy an isolation swan or love heart, it’s a win for New Zealand that they can stick to their values while enjoying their well-deserved coffee.

The message continues to be: stay home. But if you’re out and about gathering essentials, or on your way to work, use Takeaway Throwaway’s guide to ‘Cafes Reusing During Level 3’ to grab your drop of choice guilt-free.

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