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.

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Tomorrow New Zealand goes into Level 3: Cafes + restaurants will be open (for pickup only, please continue to #stayhome )… but will your local take your reusables?⠀ .⠀ The current answer: probably not. BUT I know of at least 4 cafes who have already set up contactless BYO CUP systems that are safe for people + planet… It goes like this… 👐🏻⠀ 1. Customer orders online/app.⠀ 2. Customer arrives and places their clean reusable cup on the counter or tray: they step back (while holding their cup lid if they have one)⠀ 3. The lovely barista (who cleaned their hands so super well just seconds beforehand) pours the delicious beverage into the cup. They step back 👣⠀ 4. The customer steps forward, grabs coffee, smiles delightfully, walks away (or completes contactless payment if not done already).⠀ .⠀ These measures abide by all rules, but don’t let sneaky single-use back into the equation 👐🏻⠀ .⠀ I personally won’t be reverting to single-use to get a hot drink tomorrow. No matter how good it would taste, using a cup for 5 minutes and throwing it away, doesn’t make sense to me. I’ll also be ringing my local takeaway curry shop to see if they have a similar system for my containers- wish me luck 😅⠀ .⠀ Head to the link in my bio to find an ever growing list created by @takeawaythrowaways that includes New Zealand cafes who will welcome you + your reusable cup with open arms tomorrow. .⠀ Tag your local cafe to see if they are ready for you + your reusable mug, and let me know how you’re personally going to manage Level 3 + reusables 💚⠀ .⠀ 📷 @nectar_photography

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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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