Scott Amron—one of the cleverest American product designers working today—has just released his newest concept: The Heatswell, a disposable coffee cup with a built in sleeve for shielding your hand from a burning hot cuppa joe. Unlike his other product designs this one might move beyond being merely clever, into the realm of mass production.
It's pretty simple: Instead of a separate cardboard heat sleeve, the cup comes with a thin band of foam around it's center, which is activated by the heat of the beverage inside. The benefit is that it stacks regularly, and insulates on demand—and according to Amron, it costs less than a regular cup and sleeve. The list goes on: It apparently feels like terry cloth. It's non-toxic and FDA approved (is it edible?!). It saves on materials and sleeve shipping. And it saves the barista time by eliminating a step.
What's more—and what might appeal to coffee houses—is that the brand logo can actually show through the foam. Granted, the marketing suits at a place like Starbucks would do a spit take if their logo was ever rendered in such a fuzzy way—brand guidelines, people! But its easy to image either the embossing being refined, the logo being simplified, or the the product being embraced by a company with a hipper sense of design.