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Cups, Sleeves and Carriers: A Complete Guide to the Essentials for Any Takeaway Coffee Shop

Fresh, great-tasting coffee is just one element of running a successful coffee shop. From the location of your café to tables and seating arrangements, interior decorating, music and more, an extensive range of factors go into making your coffee shop a success.

One important factor that’s frequently overlooked by would-be coffee shop owners is what we call the “everyday supplies” side of running a café. This includes the seemingly minor but vital items that your customers expect -- things like disposable cups, straws, stirrers and more.

From spreading the word about your café to helping customers enjoy a great experience, the “everyday supplies” of your coffee shop can have a surprisingly large effect on your brand, as well as the success of your business.

From cups to sleeves, carriers, utensils and more, we’ve put together a complete guide to the coffee shop essentials below, all to make stocking your coffee shop with supplies as simple as possible.

Disposable Cups

In this fast-paced age, not everyone has time to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee inside your café. As a result, a large percentage (for most cafés, a majority) of your customers will want to order their coffee to go.

Disposable coffee cups are typically made from thick paper, allowing them to easily hold warm beverages without weakening or leaking. They’re available with plan coloring, or customizable graphics to match your café’s branding.

Paper hot cups are available in a range of sizes, starting from four ounces and ranging up to 20 ounces. For the most part, you’ll want to choose options for small, medium and large drinks, as well as smaller cups for single or double shots of espresso.

Your choice of disposable coffee cups has a significant impact on your business, so it’s worth investing some time and thought into the look, feel and size of the cups you choose for your coffee shop.

As you’d expect, most disposable coffee cups come with matching lids, letting a to-go beverage to keep its heat for longer. Disposable lids are typically made from plastic and fit around the rim of the cup, often with an open/closed hole for consuming the beverage.

Coffee Cup Sleeves (or Napkins)

Coffee cup sleeves are cylindrical pieces of cardboard that slip around a coffee cup to prevent the hot beverage from hurting the customer’s hands. While these aren’t essential (if you use a thick disposable cup, you might not need them), they’re usually worth having in your café.

Like disposable coffee cups, coffee cup sleeves are customizable, meaning you can add your logo, slogan or other graphics with ease. Many coffee shops opt for generic white paper coffee cups and instead promote their brand using a customized sleeve.

Prefer not to use sleeves for your disposable coffee cups? As a cheap, simple alternative, you can also use a folded brown napkin.

Stirrers and Straws

As small as they might seem, stirrers and straws are essential items for running any successful café.

Like disposable coffee cups, straws are available in a variety of sizes. Most coffees, teas and other non-blended beverages use a thin plastic straw, while smoothies, blended coffee drinks, and fruit juices often use a larger, wider, film-wrapped straw.

If you sell a large range of beverages in your café, you’ll want to have matching straws for each beverage type to provide an enjoyable drinking experience for your customers.


Finally, the right utensils are must-haves for any coffee shop. From spoons (vital for shakes and blended coffee drinks) to forks (essential if you sell muffins, sandwiches or desserts), every café needs a dependable supply of disposable utensils for its customers.

Disposable utensils are available in a range of sizes, colors, and materials. Generally, you’ll want to opt for utensils made from environmentally-friendly, biodegradable materials, as these have a limited environmental impact if they’re not properly disposed of by your customers.

For food served in your cafe, it’s okay to opt for heavier plastic forks, spoons, and knives, which provide more control and leverage for your diners. In either case, it’s important to have a range of sizes on hand -- you’ll want small spoons for drinks, as well as larger utensils for meals.

Order High-Quality Supplies for Your Café

Searching for café supplies? We stock a full selection of supplies for modern cafés, from coffee cups with customizable branding in a complete range of sizes to stirrers, straws, biodegradable utensils and more.

View our range of café supplies online or contact us now to talk to a member of our team and request a quote for your business.