For every green, sustainable or so called eco product that we buy, there’s always the question at the back of one’s mind; how can buying more be the solution to a world that requires we use it up less? Huskee is going some way to answering that question. Not only is it moving towards ‘closing the loop’ in the coffee production cycle, but Huskee is pioneering a swap system that could push us to start to rethink what ownership will mean in the near future.
The cup itself features the husk of the coffee cherry as a raw material. This is the material that would otherwise be a waste product from the final stage of processing coffee before it is roasted. Huskee is working with specialty coffee farmers in Yunnan, China to source their husks, which are combined with a synthetic polymer and then moulded into the shape of the cup.
Operations Manager at Huskee, Nicole Barnes explained the reasons behind this process.
“We've gone with a synthetic polymer because of the demands on the product to be dishwasher friendly [and] to be durable at a high heat, high intensity café environment.” Barnes noted that the final material is up to fifty per cent husk and since its conception, Huskee has diverted up to forty tonnes of coffee husk from landfill.
In developing the project, Barnes joined Saxon Wright, of Pablo & Rusty, director of Yunnan Coffee Traders Joshua Jagelman, Adrian Chen and Michael Chin. Funding for the project came from Kickstarter, where the initiative raised over $100 000, but which also gave the cup a much wider audience.
“The Kickstarter gave us a global network of customers,” highlighted Barnes. “Some of them were coffee drinkers at home, and some of them were major distributors to their various regions, [but] by doing the Kickstarter we took what could've just stayed in Australia and launched it globally.”
Today the cup is sold in cafes around the world, and whether you’re in Burnie, Tasmania or Stockholm, Sweden, you can take your used Huskee Cup to a participating café, and your barista will swap it for a fresh Huskee Cup. This is the Huskee Swap system, and if you thought the physical design of the cup was something new, wait until you hear about the swap.
“Instead of purchasing my cup and keeping my cup,” explained Barnes, “I actually purchase the right to a cup. It could be any cup and it's an endless cup and it allows the closed loop to take root.”
Rather than receiving your individually resuseable cup, Huskke is bringing the shared economy to takeway coffee, whereby buying a Huskee cup dials you in to a global, revolving cup system, something that is built into the design of the cup itself.
“We wanted to create a lid that when people looked at it they understood they could share that with another consumer and that it would be hygienic.”
Just like we use a ceramic or glass vessel that’s been used by someone else, which is then washed and filled with our choice of beverage, before being thrown back into the dishwasher, the Huskee cup takes that to takeaway cups. If you’ve ever bought and returned a growler to a craft brewery you know the deal.
Barnes envisions a future that will slide into the fins which run down the side of the Huskee, keeping your beverage warm and your hands from burning.
“We're all responsible for the waste we're producing, and to solve this problem the cups need to be universal. They need to be able to tap in and out of major franchises, back to head offices and then back into just a local ma and pa café.”
For Huskee’s next trick, the team is looking into utilizing the Huskee material for a larger range of consumer goods, café tools and fittings. With details still under wraps, not much can be confirmed yet, but what we do know is that when a Huskee breaks, or is no longer useable, it will have another life.
To find your local Huskee location or to learn more about the cup itself, click here: https://huskee.co/.