Food News

Meet your Maker: Claycups' reusable coffee cups

A ceramic artist and barista team up to help fight the war on waste.

By Maggie Scardifield
Ceramicist Katherine Mahoney and barista Stephen Dyer think we've reached peak plastic. When Dyer – a big fan of Mahoney's ceramics – opened Sydney's Pusher Espresso Bar last year, he contacted her to create pieces for the business. Horrified at the number of single-use coffee cups a café churns through, the pair put their heads together and came up with Claycups: beautiful, dishwasher-safe ceramic vessels that certainly elevate the morning coffee ritual.
Each cup is handcrafted by Mahoney from Australian stoneware, glazed, and then wrapped in a protective felt sleeve and topped with a silicone lid. The first samples, more an experiment than anything else, sold out within an hour of gracing the Pusher countertop.
What makes a Claycup special?
Dyer: People love them because it's a piece of art, enabling you to change your consumption habits in style. Also our current Claycup is the result of several trial runs. Katherine would produce a cup and I'd put it to work at Pusher. We then tweaked the design till it was perfect.
What makes a good reusable coffee cup?
Mahoney: The cup should feel good in the hand, be the right size for the coffee you prefer, and enhance your drinking experience every day. Every time I see them being used is a thrill. It's a step towards a more sustainable future instead of another piece of rubbish going to landfill.
How do you choose the colours and glazes?
Mahoney: I try to keep them quite neutral and timeless. I work in a studio at the bottom of my garden surrounded by native trees, shrubs and birdsong. The textures and colours in the landscapes around New South Wales are a great source of inspiration.
What do you love most about pottery?
Mahoney: It speaks of the earth it came from. It's tactile, versatile and enduring.
What's your mission with Claycups?
Dyer: I find it outrageous that we're trying to fight waste with more plastic. Glass is better, of course; however, for the most part you still have to contend with hard plastic lids. Civilisations have used ceramics for thousands of years and clay has proven to be a robust and resilient medium. If we can get people to think about this on a daily basis, that's half the battle. It's time for a clay renaissance.
Claycups, small $30 and regular $40. claycups.com.au