You may not think twice about what cup you use for drinking coffee. But if you’re concerned about your health and want to take your coffee to the next level, it’s time to pay attention. Styrofoam cups are a common choice that can impact your coffee-drinking experience.
Styrofoam cups can keep your coffee warm for 1 to 3 hours. Some variations of styrofoam cups are microwave-safe and can be reheated. However, the plastic material in styrofoam can seep into your coffee and may negatively affect your health.
Let’s dive in to learn all the ins and outs of how Styrofoam impacts your cup of coffee. By the end of the article, you can decide which cup is the best for your coffee-loving needs.
Table of Contents
How Long Will Coffee Stay Hot in a Styrofoam Cup?
Styrofoam is a good insulating material when it comes to disposable cup options. Coffee will typically stay warm in a Styrofoam cup for 1 to 3 hours, depending on the lid and outer environment.
Styrofoam is a good insulator because many air bubbles are trapped in the foam material. These air bubbles prevent the heat from escaping your cup and keep your coffee hot.
A good analogy for this concept is to think of putting on a jacket when you’re cold. The jacket keeps the warmth of your body from escaping into the outer environment. And as a result, you stay toasty in your jacket.
You can think of a Styrofoam cup as a jacket for your coffee. But let’s learn more about styrofoam to determine if it’s the best jacket for your coffee.
Can You Microwave a Styrofoam Cup?
Given the material, your instinct might tell you that you shouldn’t microwave a Styrofoam cup. However, you can microwave a Styrofoam cup as long as it has a microwave-safe label on it.
Not all Styrofoam cups are safe to microwave, so you must check the labels on the cup. The microwave-safe label is typically found on the bottom of the cup.
You also should not microwave a Styrofoam cup for very long. It’s generally recommended not to exceed 30 seconds.
The materials that compose Styrofoam are not designed to be reheated for prolonged durations. Heating them up, especially repeatedly, could make it more likely for the Styrofoam materials to break down into your coffee.
Keep in mind this means that your warmed-up coffee may not be warm at all. Depending on how long your coffee has been out, thirty seconds of reheating may not quite cut it.
Are Styrofoam Cups Safe?
The main concern when using Styrofoam cups is the potential for the material of the Styrofoam to seep into the liquid.
Styrofoam is primarily composed of the plastic polystyrene. Polystyrene does contain toxins and has been linked with an increased risk for cancer.
Unfortunately, polystyrene is more likely to leach into hot liquids. So if you use Styrofoam for your cup of coffee, you may want to think twice about the impact on your health.
Does the Styrofoam Cup Impact the Flavor?
Unfortunately, styrofoam does have the potential to impact the taste of your coffee. As we mentioned, the plastic material that makes up Styrofoam can seep into hot liquids.
This means that coffee in a Styrofoam cup might have a “plastic-y” flavor. Sounds delicious, right? Not! No one likes the sound of coffee that tastes like plastic.
It’s also safe to assume that if the coffee tastes like plastic after being in a Styrofoam cup, you shouldn’t drink it. Doing so could put you at risk of developing health issues.
What’s the Best Cup to Use for Coffee?
Now that you know Styrofoam might not be the best cup for your coffee, what cup should you use?
If you’re at a coffee shop or a convenience store, opt for a paper cup if possible. While it won’t keep your coffee hot as long, paper cups have not been linked to a risk for cancer.
If you’re enjoying your coffee from the comfort of your home or at work, you have a few choices.
A stainless-steel mug will keep your coffee hot without needing to constantly reheat it. However, it will retain the flavor and smell of the coffee when used repeatedly.
On the other hand, a ceramic mug won’t retain the flavor or smell of your coffee. But it will most likely need to be reheated if you like your coffee to stay hot for a long time.