Traditional to-go cup lids can block flavours, making the coffee-drinking experience frustrating and unfulfilling. Craig Bailey, founder of FoamAroma, talks about his new lids and how they can transform the market for on-the-go hot beverages.
Craig Bailey: I had my very first espresso-based drink at a cafe in 2007. Before that, I'd had drip coffee at home and in the office. I decided to have a latte in the shop, and I'm glad I did. It turns out that the beans were of exceptional quality and the barista was skilled. The velvety foam, captivating aroma and wonderful flavours caught me by surprise. I was hooked. The next day I went back to the same shop and ordered the same drink from the same barista, but this time I got it to go in a paper cup with a lid. It was not the same experience because the lid acted as a barrier to both the foam and the aroma that had originally captivated me. Since I was not a regular to-go coffee drinker, I was not conditioned to accept the typically frustrating experiences of sippy cup-style lids. 'There has to be a better way,' I thought - and that was the start of FoamAroma.
The coffee industry is trained to pay attention to the bean, roasting, drink preparation and shop ambiance, but many Americans and an increasing number of Europeans enjoy their coffee on the go. The push for better quality, and the competition for customer loyalty, requires baristas to give attention to every detail of the coffee. That's the only way to maintain a consistent product in and out of the shop. FoamAroma is not for every shop, but those that spend the effort and money to create a high-quality drink should consider lids in their product evaluation process. After all, the lid is the final piece in a long chain of steps that create the to-go coffee, and thus deserves consideration. This was also recognised by the Specialty Coffee Association.
The short answer is that it offers a better and more memorable drinking experience. The holes and contours were specifically designed to allow the microfoam to easily flow out of the cup, and for the aroma to be inhaled right before and during drinking. Aroma is a major contributor to flavour and sensory memory input to the brain. I also paid a lot of attention to the choice of material used to make the lids.
FoamAroma lids are made from a premium material that resists cracking, and is more pliable for a secure and 'snap-on' fit. This flexibility enables them to be made with around 30% less material than many other lids. Moreover, FoamAroma can be washed and used multiple times. I decided early on that the ultimate goal for FoamAroma is to provide the best drinking experience possible. Every detail has been considered to deliver a tasty hot beverage to consumers and value to the business.
We also have the AromaSnap, a unique hole-closure tab that provides the ultimate in packaging for travellers. Moreover, FoamAroma can be made in any colour and with company branding. Here's an interesting tidbit for you: there is a soup company in the UK that uses FoamAroma on their cups because, even with soup, aroma enhances the flavour and customer's experience. Commuters can also enjoy their soup using only one hand, and it costs less than providing a lid and spoon.
At the end of the day, I think the best way of convincing companies to switch to FoamAroma is by hearing what customers and shop owners say. For example, a consumer tweeted, "Hi @foamaroma. I noticed the lid. It's beautiful. I loved being able to enjoy the full scent and flavour of my breve. @marthacafe". The owner of a coffee shop in Seattle explained that FoamAroma "lids are a big part of our success". Another shop owner "loves" FoamAroma lids, and said, "I am truly a big fan of the product. We work very hard to get perfect crema and perfect foam, and now our carry-out customers are getting a better sense of the qualitative differences in our drinks."