Church/Event Coffee

When I think of event coffee, like at church or a class, I think of either Styrofoam cups or to-go coffee cups. Coffee comes in a variety of types: brewed on site and stored in carafes, single-serve to-go gallon servings like from Starbucks, or in Texas, plastic jugs of cold brew. Sometimes there are sweeteners and stirring sticks, always there is trash.

I have yet to attend an event that encourages you to bring your own coffee or tea container. Entities are getting better about encouraging “bring your own water bottle” though that seems to be executed in an about 50/50 split of reusable water bottles and bring your own single-use plastic water bottle. I would love to see more events, and particularly religious institutions or sustainable/zero waste/green programs, encourage use of sustainable reusables as stewards of creation. Resources are not infinite and we are guardians. Bringing your own containers also makes so much less work for the serving team which is always in need of more people so it’s a considerate and time saving measure as well.

I like reusable containers for safety and cleanliness as well. I was in a church service once with open single-use cups and they’d get kicked over during service and the ushers and volunteers are running around mopping up coffee trying not to interrupt service too much. Then someone has to go back after service and mop. Be safe and courteous up front. Plus you never know how far down coffee is going to roll and spill. I hope you don’t ruin someone’s shoes.

My favorite type of event coffee cups are Miir Tumblers. The Love Does version (which was discontinued) is an 8 oz. and the perfect size for a normal serving of coffee at an event. The Ekowah Coffee version is a 20 oz. and allows me to drink as much of my own coffee as I normally do, or do have some onsite coffee. Both tumblers have plastic lids that stay on and the 20 oz. lid actually slides shut. Miir is hand-wash only but it’s so worth it since they are double-walled and hold up so well. I drop my stuff all the time, I’m usually carrying to many things at once. Have you seen all the dings in my 4ocean water bottle?

Miir is a great organization to support as well if you want to buy your favorite size and color. Miir products are Climate Neutral Certified and “Every MiiR product is designed in-house with an emphasis on four design elements: MinimalSustainableFunctionalEnduring. [Miir has] given over $930K to organizations committed to securing clean water, a healthy environment and strong communities.”

I’ve also taken my Miir tumblers to brunches and other potluck events for the beverages on hand (sometimes you need some OJ) in addition to my reusable water bottle.

I am not comfortable bringing in one of my normal travel cups (seen above) to church. It’s too big where I think here size matters. I’m the type of person that would drop my purse and this would spill; the lid is not great. I would knock a ceramic mug into something and break it if I brought it in and took it home in the same day. I kind of have a jinx with my favorite mugs and handles breaking off. My travels cups were too big to put in my purse when service was over and it was time to serve, or the cups don’t have a closed lid if they are knocked over which can happen in children’s ministry.

A double-walled or insulated cup is important so it will not burn your hand. If you have the resources and opportunity, consider the size you may need, either for your coffee/tea preferences or which bag you will be using: purse, Bible bag, bookbag, briefcase, etc. Also, will it need to fit into a car or seat cupholder? Consider your ministry and serving areas as well. I won’t take ceramic around children but if you are teaching or serving adults, ceramic may be work for you. Also consider the weight and how long you may be holding or carrying the cup.

One time I did the only non-breakable small cup I have in the house, which is my son’s stainless steel 4 oz. cup. I put in just enough coffee from the dispenser to see how hot the cup got, and it was freaking hot. It was pretty uncomfortable but didn’t burn me. I swigged that down quickly and won’t do that again! On the flip side, cold brew coffee may be too cold in a single wall cup and make your hand cold, especially if you add ice. Make sure you if you bring your own beverage container that it’s a ceramic coffee cup or insulated/double-walled so you don’t hurt yourself.

These are fun and are reusable ceramic and silicone versions of a traditional single-use coffee cup. They fit in car cupholders and are easy to clean.

These make great graduation presents if you have high school or college students in ministry, interning or employed.

The Miir lids are a thick plastic, and there is a sip slit or closing slider so if you don’t pick it up quick enough, a slit will leak a bit of liquid out, but it’s way less than an open cup of coffee like with Styrofoam. I will admit that these are not as green as they could be because I bought them directly to support their respective organizations and not secondhand. I am making an assumption that most stainless steel tumblers hold up well or are re-homed to close family and friends because I rarely see stainless steel tumblers on Buy Nothing or at secondhand stores like Goodwill, which always has a ton of water bottles and travel mugs available. I admit that I am susceptible to donation/ save-the-people and the-world items. I’ll buy the thing to support and promote, bring awareness to the cause, though I do try and only purchase useful items, bracelets or shirts.

Ceramic mugs are plentiful. There are tons of them in most people’s cabinets, garages, offices, etc. If your church/site does not have a collection and you have a kitchen, just ask for personal donations and I’m sure you’ll have enough in no time.

If you want to encourage bring your own cup, you can still collect extra mugs for visitors and let them know to take them home, wash and bring them back the next time, or designate a volunteer to do that.

Goodwill Central Texas has a vendor that takes broken glass and ceramics, this picture is from the backend of Goodwill. The vendor will review and vet items. A lot of the ceramic and most of the glass can be melted down for reuse.

I admit that I have used single-use Styrofoam and composite (mixed materials) coffee cups at church service when I was desperate. I did recycle the Styrofoam cups by taking them home because Styrofoam is recyclable in Austin. I have never seen a coffee/tea station have a spill bucket, wash bucket, or collection for plastic or Styrofoam cups. It would be so much work when you can just ask people to bring in and take home their own container. No one ever brings a compost bin for the sweetener packets, napkins or the wooden stirring sticks. There is never a recycling bin for water cups or a spill bucket for extra water.

Coffee, creamer and the like can be bought in either compostable single-serve packets (food-paper is compostable like the pink, yellow, blue or brown sugar packets) or in cardboard boxes. If you have ice or a cooler, consider creamer you refrigerate since that will come in recyclable plastic container. Stirring sticks if you must can be wooden and therefore compostable. You’ll need to have a small compost collector and small picture signs to educate your visitors and guests, but it should mean less waste and a lower footprint for your event or organization. Composting can be cheaper than trash fees or “free to the entity” if volunteers take it home to process.

I admit that I love the message of Love Does. Jesus tells us to love God and love one another as we love ourselves, and I so want to live and share this message. Ekowah means “friend” in the Osage language and it is a word that goes to the root of their values as a company: we believe that business should be conducted with the respect and goodwill of friendship at every level. Love your neighbor. Love the earth. I love that I can share these messages with you all and others.

What am I going to do now? I joined a new church recently and they don’t do the big coffee table set up in the morning. There is one pot of drip per Sunday School class. I’ll be observing and once I am familiar with how things work, preferences, and logistics I’ll have some greener recommendations I hope to propose.

#hospitality #byo #bringyourown #coffee #tea #lesslandfill #bringitintakeitout #church #event #zerowaste #somuchtrash #morningcoffee #biblestudy #stewardship

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