Podcast: Ep 49: Coffee Break with KeepCup

Abigail Forsyth is the CEO and co-founder of the KeepCup- but if you ask me, she’s the co-founder of the cup that is saving the planet!

I own so many KeepCups, because they come in so many beautiful colours and designs and I just can’t help myself. Every time I spot a new one, I have to have it! I was worried that having so many of them actually defeats the purpose, but Abigail assures me that the KeepCup ethos is all about use, so as long as you’re getting good use from them, then you’re doing the right thing. She tells me that most KeepCup users actually own four- one for the car, one for the desk, one that’s always in their handbag and one at home on rotation!

The idea for KeepCup hit Abigail and her brother, Jamie, back in 2007. They were running cafes, so the pair were seeing first hand the volume of disposable, non-recyclable cups that were ending up in landfill each and every day and realised the world really was in a waste crisis. The real “a-ha” moment, Abigail tells me, was when she was drinking her morning coffee from a disposable cup and watching her daughter drink milk from a sippy cup. “What if we reversed this?” she remembers thinking. You just wouldn’t give a child a disposable cup because you don’t want to be giving them the wrong message… so why was it okay for adults? The idea that really stuck with Abigail was that gap in the understanding of what was acceptable and what was considered good behaviour.

Excited by the idea of behaviour change, Abigail and Jamie entered into 18 months of intense trials, testing and development, and in 2009, KeepCup was born.

One of the great things about KeepCup is that the brand was launched at a time when we were only just beginning to really think about the impacts our daily habits had on the planet. Nourished Life was barely a twinkle in my eye back then! Abigail explains that in the early 2000s, people were under the impression that unless you identified as a “greenie,” you couldn’t partake in conversations around the environment. The launch of KeepCup proved that this simply isn’t the case- as long as you want to be just a little bit better, you can make a change and be part of the movement. Founded in Australia, KeepCup now has offices in London and LA, and is sold in a whopping 65 countries.

What makes KeepCup different?

There are quite a few brands offering reusable coffee cups today, but KeepCup is always the one that springs to my mind first!

I think this has a lot to do with the materials they use. My husband gets up early and brings me a coffee from our local cafe every morning. It’s one of my favourite rituals, however he’s up hours before me, so he has to get my coffee in a stainless steel cup from a lesser brand so that the coffee stays hot for me. As much as I love our little routine, I can actually taste the steel when I sip my morning coffee!

KeepCups are made from glass, so they don’t alter the taste of your coffee at all- although, Abigail tells me that they actually started as plastic as the brand didn’t quite have the money to develop a glass product, so this is a material they moved to a couple of years into the business.

During our chat, Abigail gave me the best news ever- KeepCup have just launched a stainless steel range, and the material is of such high quality that there’s no taste! Since we recorded this episode, I’ve started stocking the new range on Nourished Life, which you can shop right here.

1% for the Planet

One of the other amazing things about KeepCup is their commitment to making the world a better place.

KeepCup are part of the 1% for the Planet initiative, with Abigail telling me that they donate 1% of their revenue (not their profit!) to environmental causes. This is something they’ve been doing for quite a long time in a slightly more ad hoc way, but partnering with 1% for the Planet has allowed them show a really quantifiable amount to the public. I am so impressed by this- 1% of revenue is a huge amount!

KeepCups and Coronavirus

Something I had to chat to Abigail about was the effect COVID-19 has had on both cafe culture and KeepCup. I had heard a lot about cafes refusing to use KeepCups as they didn’t want to risk contamination, meaning that consumers were being forced to use wasteful, disposable coffee cups.

Abigail has been super understanding of the situation baristas have found themselves in, as they really are frontline workers so their chances of exposure to the virus are far greater. KeepCup, as a business, have been trying to carefully walk the line between being sensitive to people’s fears and anxieties while also keeping the greater good of the environment in mind. She assures me that there absolutely are ways to do a contactless pour, and that if we’re all practising proper hygiene, there should be little to no chance of contamination.

Abigail has explained that this year, we’ve collectively slowed down. We’ve had to make a number of compromises and sacrifices, but as life returns to normal, we’re beginning to question things and think twice before we act.

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