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Starbucks tea cup

Starbucks creates a better tea cup

Before being bought last year, Teavana had primarily been known for retail shops that sold tea and supplies — but didn’t serve the drink. With the tea bar concept, Starbucks had to rethink some of the most basic elements of its successful formula for a different kind of customer — including the paper cup itself.

The Starbucks portable cup is a ubiquitous symbol of the company, but because tea brews at a hotter temperature, and is a more traditional, relaxing experience, the old cups wouldn’t do. The goal was to make a cup that felt more like drinking from porcelain china than a flimsy, on-the-go piece of cardboard.

Double-walled insulation was built into the cup itself, foregoing the need for cardboard sleeves. The texture of the cup itself is different as well; embossed paper is used to provide what’s described as a “feathery” and “foamy” feel. The insulating design requires around 50 percent more material than is used in traditional Starbucks cups and sleeves.

Of course, the way the cup feels in the hand is just one element of the experience. The lid also garnered significant attention, with a moulded face and wider spout when compared to coffee cups.

Starbucks’ creative director of emerging brands, Daniele Monti, says the new design has found quite a following inside the company, meaning perhaps it might even extend some of these improvements to coffee as well.

See more pictures of the Teavana cup here at FastCoDesign.