It’s a weekday morning, you’re late for work, and you’re rushing down the street chugging a cup of coffee. When you finish, you probably toss the cup in the nearest trash can–by some estimates, Americans throw out around 58 million disposable coffee cups a year. But if you were in the U.K., you might be able to eat the cup instead.
In an experiment this summer, KFC will be offering coffee served in edible cookie cups that look sort of like the standard paper version; the wrapper, made of sugar, is even printed with logos from KFC and Seattle’s Best Coffee. Along with a layer of heat-resistant white chocolate, the sugar wrapper insulates the cookie cup as someone drinks.
This isn’t the first edible coffee cup–Lavazza turned cookies into espresso cups, and a coffeeshop in L.A. has an edible cup that looks like an ice cream cone. New York City’s famed baker Dominique Ansel created a cookie cup that held milk last year. KFC, though, may be the first chain to try it (as unlikely as the pairing of fried chicken and coffee for dessert might be).
Even for KFC, this is more of a stunt than an idea that will likely scale-up. “The price would probably be a bit much,” says Robin Fegen, partner at The Robin Collective, the design firm that came up with the KFC cups. “It’s made on a small scale at the moment, as a promotional thing. I wouldn’t go around saying you have to have these for the environment, because people would say it would bankrupt them.”
There are also some practical challenges, beyond the fact that coffee addicts might not want to eat several cookies every day. “If you poured boiling water out of a kettle, it wouldn’t last very long,” says Fegen. “Put it under a coffee machine and it would destroy it. But if the coffee is a drinkable temperature, that works, and you can drink and eat it as you go.”
From an environmental perspective, you’re probably going to want to keep your travel mug. But Fegen thinks the idea of edible coffee cups is worth exploring further. “I think it’s something really interesting for the world to think about–you actually don’t have to have a paper or plastic cup, you could have something else. We’ve got an edible product–why not make the packaging edible too?”