As environmentally-conscious consumption becomes more of a necessity than a hobby in today's world, businesses are looking for creative ways to decrease their waste production - including one cafe in Pāpāmoa East cafe that has introduced edible cups. Bay of Plenty Times reporter Jean Bell visited the cafe.
Cafe-goers can drink their coffee - and eat it too.
Pāpāmoa East cafe Henry and Ted has begun selling edible cups to customers this week.
The edible cups are one of the many steps taken by Tauranga organisations to be more environmentally sustainable.
A Te Puke cafe is sparking up a conversation about single-use cups and a volunteer organisation is stitching up reusable fabric bags.
In 2017, The Rising Tide ditched using plastic straws. Pāpāmoa Tavern, Mount Brewing Co, Fish Face and Pronto followed soon after.
Many cafes across the city encouraged their customers to bring reusable cups for their takeaway coffees and have moved to more sustainable forms of packaging.
Henry and Ted owner George Gibson said edible cups were a quirky addition to the cafe's offerings.
"It's something a bit different and interesting. I'm always looking for something different," he said.
The edible cups did not come cheap and people will have to cough up between $9 and $10 to indulge.
The reception on social media had been "very engaging" with mostly positive comments and Gibson said he was not fazed by any criticism.
"If you're buying a coffee and biscuit it would work out to be $8 to $10 anyway.
"They're just jealous they didn't come up with the idea first."
The most common query that he got was about whether the cup got soggy, but Gibson confidently said the cups were leak-proof.
"You can leave the coffee in it for an hour and it's still hard," he said.
The cups were hand-made by New Zealand company twiice.
According to twiice's website, each cup was made from wheat flour, sugar, egg and vanilla essence, and came wrapped in a cellophane bag that could be composted at home.
Gibson believed more edible utensil products would be on offer in the future.
"The whole cafe industry is heading away from single-use. We already encourage customers to bring reusable cups."
The cups will also be available at the Elizabeth Street Larder.
The Daily Cafe in Te Puke is another hospitality outlet that was looking to sell more than coffee and cake.
Community liaison and former manager Rebecka Billington said the cafe had been environmentally conscious since it opened three years ago.
The cafe encouraged customers to bring a reusable cup or to take a mug from the cafe instead of using a takeaway cup, often sparking a conversation about single-use waste along the way.
"We like to challenge our customers in a positive way. If they ask for a takeaway cup and are drinking in-house we ask, 'is there a reason you'd like it in a takeaway cup?'"
More often than not, people were happy to skip the takeaway cup and have it in a mug.
"It's just having a conversation with people. If they don't know, they don't care."
She said the cafe was looking at decorating glass jars for people to use as takeaway cups.
Boomerang Bags started in October 2016 and has sewed around 10,000 bags from fabric offcuts so far, according to volunteer Marie Benvin.
Volunteers sewed the bags which were then popped into share boxes dotted around the city for people to use or donate to the cause.
People could either keep the bag for reuse or return it to one of the boxes at Ripcurl in the Mount, Plum Organics in Pāpāmoa, Our Place in the CBD or the Waipuna Hospice shop in Greerton.
Benvin said volunteers met for sewing bees and the organisation was always looking for more helping hands.
"It's a good opportunity for people who love sewing to come together and do something good for the world," she said.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said consumer surveys showed more people were becoming environmentally conscious and avoiding single-use disposable packaging.
He said edible cups were a "very clever marketing initiative".
"This packaging debate has become a market-led initiative and is no longer just for the greenies."
He said the $9 to $10 price range might be too much for most consumers as it would double their weekly spend on coffee.
Envirohub project manager Liesel Carnie said edible cups got people thinking about their single-use coffee cup habit.
"A reusable item will still always be your best choice as this will have the lowest emissions if you compare it per use," she said.
Carnie believed edible utensils were the way of the future with various products like corn starch plates already on offer.
As a filthy millennial, I couldn't help that my interest was piqued upon hearing that edible coffee cups had made their way to Tauranga.
Finally. The perfect fad drink to accompany the smashed avo on toast that I'm sacrificing buying a house for.
But the cup proved to be a snazzy addition to the menu. It fits perfectly in your palm and around the size of a small takeaway cup. A subtle vanilla aroma wafts from the cup and it is pleasantly sweet.
I was impressed with its sturdiness. This cookie didn't crumble, even after I abandoned it with a bit of coffee left in it on my work desk for a couple of hours.
While it was a novel experience, the cost would deter me. I'll stick to my plain-jane flat white in a mug unless I'm keen for a snack along with my coffee.