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.