Can You Put Coffee In Solo Cups? Simple Answer

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Solo cups are a staple of backyard barbecues, college parties, and outdoor events.

They are cheap, durable, and come in a variety of bright colors.

But have you ever wondered if you can put coffee in a Solo cup?

It is not recommended to put coffee in Solo cups because the materials used in their production can leach toxins into the hot beverage. It is safer to use alternative options for hot drinks, such as reusable cups or compostable Solo cups.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using Solo cups for coffee and provide some tips for making sure your beverage stays hot and your cup stays intact.

What Exactly Are Solo Cups?

A Solo cup is a type of disposable plastic cup that is commonly used for serving cold beverages.

It is made from a material called polystyrene, which is a type of thermoplastic that can be molded into various shapes.

Solo cups are well-known for their bright red color and iconic design, which features a rolled lip for easy drinking and a textured grip to prevent slipping.

They are a popular choice for parties, picnics, and other events where disposable cups are needed.

Despite their widespread use, Solo cups have come under scrutiny for their environmental impact and potential health risks associated with hot liquids.

Why You Shouldn’t Put Coffee In Solo Cups

You can technically put coffee in Solo cups, but it’s not recommended due to the materials and manufacturing methods used in their production.

Solo cups are typically made from plastic, which can potentially leach harmful chemicals when exposed to hot liquids like coffee.

This can pose health risks if the toxins are consumed.

Additionally, Solo cups are not designed to insulate heat well, so the cup may become too hot to hold if filled with hot coffee.

Moreover, Solo cups are not leak-proof, so if the cup starts to soften or melt due to the hot liquid, it may leak and cause a mess.

Therefore, it’s best to use alternative materials specifically designed to be safe for hot beverages when serving coffee.

Recycling code number 6  

Recycling code number 6, also known as polystyrene or PS, is a type of plastic that is commonly used in the production of a variety of consumer products, including Solo cups.

While this type of plastic is lightweight, durable, and inexpensive to produce, it is not easily recyclable in most areas.

Polystyrene is not biodegradable, meaning it can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills.

Additionally, it is not accepted by many recycling facilities due to the challenges involved in processing it.

While some facilities do accept polystyrene for recycling, the process can be complex and expensive.

The plastic must first be cleaned and separated from other materials, and then melted down and reformulated for reuse.

However, there are efforts underway to improve the recyclability of polystyrene.

Some companies are developing new technologies that make it easier to recycle this type of plastic, and some communities are expanding their recycling programs to include polystyrene.

In the meantime, it’s important to properly dispose of polystyrene products like Solo cups in the regular trash and to consider using alternative materials that are more easily recyclable, such as paper, glass, or aluminum.

By reducing our use of polystyrene products and properly disposing of them when we do use them, we can help to minimize the impact of this type of plastic on the environment.

So then, What other options are available if Solo cups are not recommended for use with coffee? We discuss this in the next section.

Solo Cup Alternatives

Here are some Solo cup alternatives for coffee:

Reusable Coffee Mugs

One great alternative to Solo cups for coffee is a reusable coffee mug.

These are often made from materials like ceramic, stainless steel, or glass, and are designed to be used repeatedly, reducing waste.

They come in a variety of sizes and styles, and some even have features like built-in insulation to keep your coffee hot for longer.

You can find reusable coffee mugs at most kitchenware stores or online retailers.

Compostable Cups

Compostable cups are another alternative to Solo cups for coffee.

These cups are made from materials like plant-based plastics or biodegradable paper, and are designed to break down quickly and safely in composting facilities.

Some compostable cups even have a lining made from materials like cornstarch to keep liquids from leaking.

It’s important to note that not all compostable cups are created equal, so be sure to look for cups that are certified compostable by a reputable organization like the Biodegradable Products Institute.

Insulated Paper Cups

If you prefer the convenience of disposable cups but want to avoid plastic, insulated paper cups are a good option.

These cups are made from paper with a lining of wax or plant-based materials to keep liquids from leaking.

Some insulated paper cups also have built-in insulation to keep your coffee hot for longer.

While not all paper cups are recyclable, some can be recycled in facilities that accept paper products.

Glass Cups

Another alternative to Solo cups for coffee is a glass cup. Glass cups are durable, easy to clean, and can be used repeatedly.

They also don’t leach any harmful chemicals into your coffee.

Some glass cups even come with silicone sleeves or lids to make them easier to hold and transport.

There are many alternatives to Solo cups for coffee, including reusable coffee mugs, compostable cups, insulated paper cups, and glass cups.

By choosing one of these alternatives, you can enjoy your coffee while also reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact of your coffee consumption.

Can Solo Cups Be Recycled?

While Solo cups are made from recyclable materials, the answer to whether or not they can be recycled depends on your local recycling program.

In general, Solo cups are made from plastic #6, which is not accepted by all recycling facilities due to the challenges involved in processing them.

Some facilities do accept plastic #6 for recycling, but others do not.

It’s important to check with your local recycling program to see if they accept Solo cups or plastic #6.

Even if your local recycling program does accept Solo cups, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, make sure to clean the cups thoroughly before recycling them.

Any residual liquid or food can contaminate the recycling stream and reduce the quality of the recycled material.

Second, check to see if your local program requires you to remove the lids or any other components before recycling.

Some programs may require you to separate the different parts of the cup before recycling.

However, this can be inconvenient for many people, and it’s unlikely that everyone will make a special trip to recycle their Solo cups and other plastics with recycling code number 6.

As a result, it’s essential to reduce our use of disposable products like Solo cups and instead choose reusable options whenever possible.

Most Solo cups are made from a type of plastic known as thermoplastic polystyrene, which is both cheap and easy to mold.

However, this material has a significant downside: it is incredibly slow to biodegrade.

Additionally, polystyrene is highly flammable and can release carbon dioxide when burned.

Contrary to what the song “Solo Red Cup” by Toby Keith suggests, Solo cups do not break down in 14 years.

In fact, it can take up to 450 years for these cups to decompose completely.

This slow rate of decomposition is due to the same properties that make Solo cups durable, which also impede their breakdown process.

Given the significant environmental impact of Solo cups, it’s much more eco-friendly to use reusable cups or mugs whenever possible.

If your local recycling program does not accept Solo cups or plastic #6, it’s best to dispose of them in the regular trash.

While not ideal, disposing of Solo cups properly can help to minimize their impact on the environment.

However, it’s important to note that reducing our use of disposable products like Solo cups is the best way to reduce waste and minimize our impact on the environment.

Are Solo Coffee Cups Compostable?

Most Solo coffee cups are not compostable due to the materials used in their production.

These cups are typically made from thermoplastic polystyrene, which is a type of plastic that can take hundreds of years to decompose.

While some companies have introduced compostable options for their coffee cups, such as those made from plant-based materials like corn starch, most Solo cups are not compostable.

It’s essential to check the labeling of the cup or packaging to determine whether it’s compostable or not.

When it comes to sustainability, it’s still best to use a reusable cup or mug whenever possible.

This not only reduces the amount of waste produced but also helps to conserve resources and minimize our impact on the environment.

Use Compostable Solo Cups Instead

Compostable Solo cups are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional Solo cups that are made from plant-based materials like corn starch, sugarcane, or other renewable resources.

Unlike regular Solo cups that can take hundreds of years to decompose, compostable Solo cups can break down within a matter of months in the right conditions.

Compostable Solo cups are designed to be composted along with food scraps and other organic materials, which helps to create nutrient-rich soil for growing plants.

However, it’s essential to ensure that these cups are disposed of properly in a commercial composting facility, as they require specific conditions to break down efficiently.

It’s important to note that not all compostable cups are created equal, and some may still contain plastic or other non-compostable components that can contaminate the composting process.

When choosing compostable Solo cups, look for certifications such as BPI or ASTM to ensure that the cups meet recognized compostability standards.

While compostable Solo cups are a step in the right direction toward reducing waste, it’s still important to prioritize reusable options whenever possible.


Solo cups may be a convenient option for serving cold drinks, but they are not suitable for hot beverages like coffee.

The materials used in the production of Solo cups, particularly number 6 thermoplastic polystyrene, can leach toxins when exposed to high temperatures.

This poses health risks to consumers, making it important to avoid using Solo cups for hot drinks.

Additionally, Solo cups are not environmentally friendly due to their slow decomposition rate and the challenges associated with recycling them.

While compostable Solo cups offer a more sustainable alternative, reusable cups, and mugs remain the best option for minimizing our impact on the environment.

It’s essential to make informed decisions when it comes to the cups we use, taking into account factors such as health, environmental impact, and sustainability.

By doing so, we can make a positive contribution towards a healthier and more sustainable future.


Can solo cups be heated?

Solo cups are not designed to withstand high temperatures, and therefore, they should not be used to heat food or beverages.

When exposed to high temperatures, such as when used for hot liquids, solo cups can release chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to human health.

It is recommended to use appropriate containers that are specifically designed for heating or consuming hot food and drinks.

How many times can you reuse Solo cups?

Solo cups are not designed for multiple uses and are intended for one-time use only.

Reusing them may result in reduced performance and increased risk of leaching harmful chemicals into beverages.

It is recommended to use a reusable cup or mug for multiple uses to reduce waste and protect your health.

Is it Safe to Put Hot Water in a Plastic Cup?

Plastic cups, particularly those made of polycarbonate or polystyrene, can release harmful chemicals when exposed to hot water.

This includes bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors.

Therefore, it is generally not safe to put hot water in a plastic cup, and it is recommended to use alternative materials like glass, ceramic, or stainless steel for hot beverages.

Why are Solo cups so popular?

Solo cups are popular for a variety of reasons.

They are affordable, widely available, and come in different sizes to accommodate different drink volumes.

Additionally, their iconic red and blue color scheme has become associated with party culture in the United States, making them a staple at gatherings and events.

The convenience and disposability of solo cups also make them a popular choice for outdoor events, picnics, and other situations where glass or ceramic cups are not practical or allowed.

Why are Solo cups called solo?

The name “Solo” comes from the original manufacturer of the cups, Solo Cup Company.

The company was founded in the 1930s and originally produced cone-shaped paper cups for drinking water.

In the 1970s, they introduced the now-famous red plastic cups, which became popular for use at parties and events.

The term “solo” in the name may refer to the fact that the cups are often used for individual servings, or it may simply be a play on the word “solo” as a nod to the company’s name.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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