After looking for a sustainable alternative to the ‘alarming’ mountains of disposable cups they were throwing away as cafe owners, KeepCup founders Abigail and Jamie Forsyth took matters into their own hands.
They designed and produced the world’s first ‘barista standard reusable cup’, selling the very first KeepCups to coffee-loving Melbournians at an independent market in 2009! More than a decade later, KeepCup’s innovative products are just as relevant today.
‘I still get a thrill when I see someone using one of our products, particularly when I spot a well loved one,’ Abigail says. ‘I can usually tell the “vintage” by the colour and subtle design changes over the years!’
‘But it’s also a bittersweet feeling in that the cultural change we drove has been so very slow to be backed by legislative change to eradicate single-use packaging. It’s really a question of when, not whether this happens.’
The company and their customers divert millions of single-use cups from landfill every year, leading the charge against ‘convenience culture’. Abigail says the pandemic also posed a new set of challenges, as hygiene concerns ‘derailing’ KeepCup’s reuse revolution – with some cafes temporarily banning reusable cups in 2020.
This pushed KeepCup to grow their range of iconic coffee cups, launching bottles, and its brand-new Helix range! This design features screw-top coffee cups that can be cleverly converted into a fully sealed bottle, thanks to a range of screw-fit accessories. It took Abigail and her team 24 months to develop and commercialise the unique 2-in-1 design, in hopes of making it easier than ever for people to opt out from single-use plastic.
And 13 years in, Abigail says KeepCup is still experiencing strong growth. New employees and new products led to the need for a bigger Australian headquarters, built with the ‘same principles that galvanised the brand since day dot’.
‘It’s always been important to me to connect that “making” with the marketing and selling, as well as being in a beautiful space that reflects our values and is just a great place to be in,’ she adds.
They enlisted Six Degrees Architects and Sam Cox Landscape to create a dual office and warehouse from an existing red-brick building in Clifton Hill, with an impressive set of environmental credentials. It holds 76KW of solar power while 20,000 litres of rainwater tanks fuel the building’s daily operations. And at its heart lies a lush ‘interior garden’! There’s more than 180 sprawling native plants, beehives and a shaded outdoor meeting area that Abigail says ‘keeps them connected with nature.’
In a time of greenwashing and corporate sustainability slogans, KeepCup genuinely walks the talk, and is still driven by the same ethos that kick-started the business all those years ago – enabling everyday changes to lighten our impact on the planet, big or small!
Shop the new KeepCup Helix range online here, and visit their website here.