There’s lots of coffee cups on the market, but I haven’t seen any like the Zip Cup that Karla Zens created. This weekend, she took some time to answers some questions about the cup for Daily Shot Of Coffee.
Can you introduce yourself to the DSOC readers?
Hi! I’m Karla Zens, a coffee loving San Franciscan. I grew up in a small town in Canada (as in bears walking through the yard) small. I know kids start drinking coffee young nowadays, but I started drinking it when I was about 8, which was uncommon at the time. I heard it would stunt my growth, which was appealing because I was taller than all the boys in my class. Fortunately it didn’t work, and I got more coffee drinking years in me.
What’s your coffee story? What’s your favorite coffee?
My parents were (and still are) somewhat fanatical about coffee — they drive out to a special spring to get their water, grind beans and pour through a cone filter. So coffee has always represented family and friends coming together to share an experience. San Francisco is blessed with some incredible coffee, but what I’m hooked on right now is New Mexico Piñon coffee.
Zip Cup is a collapsible travel mug. It holds a full cup of coffee, and collapses to the size of a hockey puck (at 12 oz), or to the size of a ball of socks (at 16 oz). I work in sustainability, and was disgusted to learn that we throw away 58 billion paper cups every year in the US. I wanted to carry a reusable mug but I couldn’t stand lugging them around all day.
How did you get the idea for the Zip Cup?
I remembered the collapsing cup I had when I was a Brownie (junior Girl Scout). I bought one, realized that it’s about the size of a shot glass, and after searching extensively, discovered that the collapsing cup concept hasn’t been improved in decades, maybe centuries — there are some crazy old military collapsing cups on eBay. So I took the low-tech collapsing cup concept, made it safe by adding twist-locking and sealing mechanisms used on space shuttles and submarines, made it stylish/attractive, and voila – an easy-to-carry, spillproof, beautiful, collapsing coffee cup that fits in your pocket, bag, and much more.
Fun name, where does it come from?
My husband and I were brainstorming, and he gets credit. I wanted something simple and fun…and was happy to find the URL was available!
The only thing that I’m really hesitant about is plastic affecting the taste of the coffee. What have you noticed so far as far as the taste of coffee in the Zip Cup?
I completely understand. I work in sustainability, so I was also concerned about plastic for safety reasons after all the BPA concerns. So I had some initial conversations with the Cradle to Cradle Certification Institute to source the most benign plastic possible, and will pursue certification with them as soon as I can. In the future I’d like to launch a stainless steel Zip Cup, but so far I haven’t been able to find a manufacturer to make the business model work.
How long will the cup last?
The cup is designed to last for a few years, and to be completely reyclable at the end of its lifespan. That was really important to me. I didn’t want to be reducing paper cup use, but creating another problem further down the chain.
Tell us about your fund raising campaign and what perks could we get if we contribute.
Through the campaign www.indiegogo.com/zipcup there are a few levels of contributions. For $25 you can get a Zip Cup, which breaks down to $20 for the cup and $5 for shipping anywhere in the US. At the $45 you get 2 Zip Cups, and at $75 you get 4 Zip Cups (plus a vote on Zip Cup’s color and design. Check out the campaign for a few other levels of corporate and coffee shop perks with even more significant bulk discounts. And yes, I know you can get a travel mug for under $20 — but will it fit conveniently into your daily routine, or will it end up gathering dust in a cupboard because it’s too bulky and poorly designed?
Where can we learn more about the Zip Cup?
Please check out my campaign: www. indiegogo.com/zipcup and my website www.zipcup.com. If you think Zip Cup would bring some caffeinated convenience to your life, or you want to give it as a gift, sign up for a perk! Don’t delay — my campaign is wrapping up in just 3 weeks and I really want to hit my goal. You’ll be helping to fund the factory tools for Zip Cup, which are incredibly expensive because unlike typical mugs, Zip Cup is made from 3 parts with sealing and locking functionality.
Any plans for other products in the future?
Yes – I’ve always had ideas for products, and making Zip Cup has given me the engineering resources and legal/marketing/manufacturing experience to bring other products to life. I will likely always focus on waste-busting products, but also have an idea to help bring new life to Mardi-gras beads. Stay tuned — you can follow Zip Cup on Facebook, Twitter, or sign up for email updates.
For more travel mugs, see our full guide of Best Travel Coffee Mugs.