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Further Writing by Swan Morrison


As Fashion and Style Editor of this magazine, I am receiving an increasing number of questions from readers as to the most sophisticated and trend-conscious way to undertake the newly fashionable activity of coffee-cupping.

Around one in four people now habitually carry a take-away coffee container in one hand whenever walking through city streets, and so guidance as to the hottest and coolest coffee-cupping techniques is perhaps long overdue.

It must be stressed that cc etiquette is still evolving as more celebrities are observed leaving Starbucks and Costa Coffee. The following notes, however, may, for the moment, ensure that readers can avoid the most embarrassing of the potential faux pas.

The type of cup:

A large container is absolutely essential.

Coloured cardboard cups are much to be recommended, although white polystyrene can be used in an emergency if a darker coloured heat sleeve is utilised.

Visibility of brand logos is currently a contentious point, and it is best to hide advertising related to the source of your beverage. Each major high street coffee house is hated by a different sector of the population for one reason or another. For example, Starbucks has become associated with tax avoidance and Costa Coffee is accused of causing the closure of every local independent coffee shop. It is therefore best for the fashion conscious coffee-cupper not to be directly associated with any specific retailer.

One huge advantage of such anonymity, however, is that any large paper cup and sleeve can be used – indeed many people purchase these directly from their local pound shops. This is hugely cheaper than obtaining the accessory from a high street coffee outlet because the latter also charges for the coffee – asking for an empty cup or hunting through coffee shop bins for a discarded container is definitely uncool.

Buying empty cups, of course, raises the question of what to put in them:

The contents of the cup:

Part of the reason for the recent surge in the popularity of coffee-cupping is that the content of the cup is completely irrelevant from a fashion perspective.

Research has shown that around one in five coffee-cuppers have nothing in their containers at all. Not only is this by far the cheapest way to keep up with the trend, but it also eliminates the danger of spillage. Such an approach can also be considered to be extremely sensible: by any rational standard, great numbers of people rushing through our busy streets holding large containers of hot liquids is neither a wise nor socially responsible thing to do.

Many people top up their cups with beer, whisky or some other favoured form of alcohol. Because a plastic lid covers each cup, the colour of the contents is never seen. This means that liquids which are not vaguely coffee coloured, such as gin or vodka, can also be used.

If there are concerns that a boss might notice the unusual colour of a beverage or a police officer might detect something untoward in an alcohol prohibited city area, then most drinks can be made to resemble coffee with the judicious addition of suitable food colourings.

It is best to stick to liquids, however. All experiments to sniff cocaine from a coffee cup while rushing through a city street have thus far proved unsuccessful.

Many people have found that filling the cups themselves not only affords an infinite choice of content but also avoids the insanely long wait in a coffee shop while a barista undertakes the arcane rites and rituals necessary to produce an indifferent drink that tastes not vastly different from a cup of decent instant.

The carrying of the cup:

This is probably the most critical of the deportment techniques: too high and you might not see where you are going – or risk smashing your cup into the face of a passer-by; too low and you risk tipping the contents onto the ground, your feet, your hand or a more sensitive part of your body – all of which are horrific embarrassments that can be very hard to live down.

It is best to keep the elbow joint at a ninety degree angle while on the move – with the cup at waist height. This will also help to keep the container in a more or less level mode.

Advanced coffee-cuppers have begun to integrate their containers into physical gesturing: a cup can be adequately held with three fingers and a thumb – this frees the index finger to point at something of relevance, scratch a head or whatever. It is best, however, to practice at home with a cup of cold water prior to trying such complex manoeuvres with hot coffee.

It is understood that Samsung are working on the first integrated coffee cup and smartphone.

For the most fashion conscious, courses in coffee-cupping are planned for the near future. In the interim, however, we hope that the above guidance can help more people to confidently emulate their cc icons.