BYOC Campaign Halted at Starbucks Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 4th, Starbucks published a letter addressing the recent COVID-19 outbreak, and a list of precautionary steps they are taking.

Specific to our BYOC campaign, one of the steps involved the acceptance of personal cups.

We are pausing the use of personal cups and “for here” ware in our stores. We will continue to honor the 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or asks for “for here” ware.

Rossann Williams, EVP and President of Starbucks

This sign was posted in a Starbucks store.

Therefore, they are serving everything in a disposable single-use cup. No “for here” cups, and they won’t accept your reusable cup.

Other major coffee retailers have adopted a similar policy, such as Intelligentsia and Peet’s coffee in the United States, and Second Cup and Tim Horton’s in Canada.

The timing is not good for Tim Hortons, who was just about to launch a program on March 10th to distribute 1.8 million reusable cups as prizes in its Roll Up the Rim contest.

If you bring your own cup to these retailers, you can still receive the cup discount, but you will receive your coffee in a disposable cup. However, Second Cup will still provide “for here” cups, as their “ceramic mugs are washed in high-pressure sanitizers.”

Locally in Portland, Nossa Familia (a leader in the coffee cup reduction efforts) has released a COVID-19 response about how they are dealing with the risks. They have decided to serve cups in a stainless steel cup for those that bring their own cup, but not take the personal cup.

Customers who would like an espresso drink in their personal mug will have their drink made in a reusable stainless steel pint cup with sleeve, which can then be poured into their personal mug.

Customers can pour their drink into their own cup, or drink out of the reusable stainless steel cup. Similar to what Second Cup has decided to do. This seems like a good compromise to reduce disposable cups while preventing virus spread.

So far, we haven’t heard about any other coffee shops in the Portland area following the lead of Starbucks, so it might just apply to the larger shops.

If you do encounter another coffee shop that won’t accept your reusable mug, you can always ask for a “for here” cup, then drink the coffee at the shop from their cup, or you can pour the drink into your reusable cup.

Have you heard of other coffee shops adopting this policy in Oregon?