Cascara has been looking for a purpose for years. For the uninitiated, cascara is the husk of the coffee bean that is removed during the milling process after the coffees are dried. It’s essentially wood cellulose at this point, or you can think of them as tiny coconut husks. Sometimes, farmers use the husks as fertilizer, sometimes they’ve used them as extenders in livestock feeds. But the problem is that we just drink so much coffee and for every sack of coffee beans produced, you also create a sack’s worth of cascara at the same time. Over the last decade, we’ve seen an attempt to sell cascara as a tea. We’ve tasted these teas and they are indeed sweet and pleasant, but it’s been known to be unsafe to consume for extended periods of time.
HuskeeCup is a product that has managed to utilize the cascara in a unique way: by turning them into coffee cups. HuskeeCups integrates the coffee husks with a BPA-free polypropylene into what they’re calling an eco-composite polymer. Now while using what’s essentially a plastic to construct their product may seem counter intuitive, the product is supposed to be incredibly durable and usable both by consumers and by traffic-heavy cafes. In fact, the first times we used HuskeeCup was at Singapore’s No Sleep Club and at The Populous. Extending the lifespan of a product will keep it out of landfills and recycling centers.
They also claim that the kind of plastic they use in this biopolymer is easy to recycle, which is why the cups only come in 2 colors: an off-white and a charcoal grey that integrates natural charcoal to give it its color.
As a latte cup, it retains heat well, is easy to hold because of its ripped design, and seems to be good for latte art because of it’s egg-shaped inner molding.
Problems? Lipstick seems to adhere to the cups pretty aggressively and won’t come out in a regular dishwasher. Apparently this is due to the wax and oil properties of most lipsticks. You can probably remove such stains with a direct application of detergent and circular scrubbing techniques, but it’s something to consider if you intend to roll out Huskee cups in your cafe.
All things considered, we see HuskeeCup as a good step forward in sustainability and circular design for the coffee industry. Choose it for reasons of principle or aesthetic or function.
Or all of the above.