Common Types of Disposable To Go Coffee Cups (with Pros & Cons)

According to statistics, around 12% of the world’s population loves drinking coffee. With this large number of coffee lovers, businesses have had to find coffee-to-go cups that will enable users to enjoy their favorite coffee drink on the go. These to-go coffee cups come in different types and sizes. This article will look into different types of disposable coffee cups and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Paper Coffee Cups

Paper cups, usually coated with a plastic lining to make them waterproof and greaseproof, remain a popular choice of disposable coffee cups for cafes and restaurants due to their versatility and user-friendly nature. There are three main types available in terms of paper layer:

Single-walled paper cups: Standard cups mainly used for cold drinks or hot drinks with additional sleeves needed.

Double-walled paper cups: Made from two layers of paper to provide more insulation from the hot beverage than single-walled paper cups. This excellent insulation helps keep your drink warm but costs more.

Ripple-walled paper cups: These consist of three quality layers: two layers of premium paper and an outer corrugated layer. The ripple outer layer forms an air pocket between the layers, which provides superior insulation compared to single-walled and double-walled cups, and offers a comfortable grip.


  • Safe to use as there is no risk of chemical leaching
  • Lightweight and stackable, making them easy to store
  • Some options (like double wall and ripple wall) come with built-in insulation


  • It’s challenging to recycle due to the plastic lining inside, so it may contribute to environmental waste over time
  • They may not be the most economical choice for business owners due to higher manufacturing costs.

Compostable Coffee Cups

These types of disposable coffee cups are biodegradable as they contain no plastic. They are made from plant-based starches that are renewable and composable in landfills. They serve as an eco-friendly alternative, widely embraced by consumers and businesses alike. There are primarily two types:

PLA-Coated Coffee Cups: Unlike plastic-lined paper cups, these cups are coated with PLA, a type of corn-based plastic to maintain integrity in use. It eliminates the process of separating the paper and plastic lining, which makes it much easier to recycle.

Bagasse Coffee Cups: Made from sugarcane waste fibers, they serve as a fantastic example of transforming waste into a valuable resource.

If you’re working on a budget for eco-friendly coffee cups, GMZ’s plastic-free paper cups are a go-to choice. As the name suggests, these cups are free of plastic so they can be 100% recycled to reduce waste. However, the cost is lower than PLA-coated cups.


  • Made from renewable resources
  • Capable of breaking down into nutrient-rich compost within a commercial composting facility
  • Free from harmful toxins, so they won’t release harmful chemicals as they degrade
  • Increasingly favored by consumers as awareness of plastic waste grows


  • More expensive compared to traditional cups
  • Require commercial composting facilities to decompose effectively
  • Not all compostable cups can stand up to high temperatures, potentially affecting their usability with hot beverages.
PLA coated paper cups for hot drinks and it's a composable and eco-friendly paper cup

Foam Coffee Cups

Styrofoam cups, or foam cups, are made from a plastic called polystyrene, which is puffed up with air. They are popular for hot beverages due to their excellent heat retention properties. However, these cups are rarely recyclable as the process is difficult and not cost-effective. If eco-friendliness is at the top of a business’s list, these may not be the best type of disposable coffee cups.


  • Lightweight, reducing shipping costs
  • Superior insulation keeps drinks hot for longer
  • More affordable than paper cups


  • Not recyclable in many areas
  • Not biodegradable
  • Production of these cups releases harmful, ozone-depleting chemicals
  • Styrene can trigger harmful health effects

Plastic Coffee Cup

Plastic coffee cups, typically made from PET or PP plastics, are commonly used for iced coffee due to their clear nature that showcases the beverage.


  • Durable and don’t easily break or leak
  • Transparent cups enhance the overall look of the beverage
  • Can be recycled


  • Not ideal for hot beverages
  • Can leach chemicals if exposed to heat
  • Environmental concerns due to plastic waste

If you’re business that serves iced coffee or other cold drinks on the menu, and are concerned about plastic waste, GMZ also launched double PE paper cups perfect for cold beverages. Both the inner and outer layers of the cup are PE-coated to protect against damage from condensation.


If you’re running a coffee business, we trust that these articles have been of great help. You now have a deeper understanding of common types of disposable coffee cups, from single wall cups, double wall cups, ripple-wall cups, to compostable cups. If you’re looking to purchase any of these cups, we at GMZ are your best choice. We are a trusted supplier of paper coffee cups with years of experience. We will also customise the cups for you if you reach a minimum order quantity of 50,000 pieces. Visit our website and make your order, and you won’t regret our service.

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