Renting coffee

By Paul Sanderson

Clive Schlee, the chief executive of sandwich shop Pret, asked his Twitter followers how the company could encourage more customers to bring reusable coffee cups to their stores.

One of his suggestions was that the discount given for doing this was increased from 25p to 50p, so that filter coffee would then just be 49p.

This is very admirable and great that he is thinking about how the company can cut down on all of the single use coffee cups it gives out.

Some of the responses were fantastic, including ideas for collapsible cups that were easier to carry around.

But my initial thought was rather than people going to Pret to buy a coffee, why not take the coffee to them?

My own coffee buying habit involves a weekday trip to the wonderful, independent Bold Street Coffee in Liverpool, just by our Ropewalks office. Seriously, try their coffee, it is full of rich, complex flavours.

Once buying my coffee, I take it back to the office and drink it there. Do people really drink coffee on the go? Most of the time it is too hot and awkward to be drinking it while you walk along.

So my idea Clive Schlee, is that you get people to rent coffee. Offices small to large can rent a coffee machine off you and get provided with bags of Pret coffee to fill the machine. Or maybe you provide them with a Nespresso-style capsule solution and they can return those to your store for recycling.

You could charge a monthly subscription price for this and people can use their own mugs and cups.

That way, you still get to sell coffee, people get to drink a nice Pret coffee in their office, and you reduce the amount of coffee cups you send out into the world.

This is more circular economy than linear economy and maybe means you need to think about your business model differently. I guess people will still have to visit your stores if they want a sandwich or one of your lovely choc bars though.