Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey, Nice Lid!

I drink a fair bit of coffee. I do not attempt to buy, carry or consume coffee while I'm commuting on my bike like some do. Nonetheless, I frequently buy coffee from Tim Horton's, Starbucks, etc. when I'm in the car, and Mrs. Rantwick and I are more likely to go buy take-out coffee than to brew a pot at home. How lame is that?

Anyway, here in London Ontario, McDonald's has been giving away free coffee again. I suppose the only way they can combat the popular notion that their coffee sucks is to give some of the new stuff away. I had a free cup on Saturday morning, and that ridiculously iconic restaurant chain has really pulled out all the stops this time.

The coffee was fine, better than any I've had from McDonald's before. It was as scorchingly hot as the last cup I had from there about 5 years ago. Does anybody know if the old lady suing McDonald's for serving hot coffee story is true or urban legend? I guess I could snopes it up, but I'm too lazy. I believe it though... everybody expects coffee to be hot, but not leave-it-alone-for-half-an-hour-if-you-want-to-keep-your-tongue hot. I'm not complaining; the stuff was good once it was down to a drinkable temperature.

What really struck me about the free coffee was not the coffee, but the lid. I am very interested in coffee lid design. Remember the days before plastic lids with sippy holes, or the perforations to create them? The first time I saw somebody manually create a sippy hole in a plastic coffee lid while riding in a work truck, it was a revelation. These days, of course, most plastic coffee lids offer this option, but the McDonald's lid brought even more to the table. Bear with me now, because without a review of the other offerings, this post would just be short and boring. As any of my more regular readers can attest, long and boring is more my thing.

First up, THE dominant Canadian coffee and donut chain, Tim Horton's:

Sippy hole perforation, works well most of the time, but sometimes I need to rip the tab right off because it won't stay locked down. Branding on lid.

Now, the US-based competition, Starbucks:

Starbucks doesn't bother with custom-branded lids, or perforations and tabs. They just assume that if you're using a lid, you want a sippy hole. In terms of pure function, this is my favourite lid. Aesthetically, though, they look kind of nasty when coffee dries on the lid after you use it. I washed this one off before photographing it. Dark brown like the other lids would be better.

The long-established chain Country Style Donuts:

I don't know who designed their lid first, but as you can see, Country Style's is almost identical to Tim Horton's. The sippy hole tab, however, stays down better.

OK, so what about this free coffee from McDonald's? Its lid was something else entirely:

Leave it to McDonald's to design a lid that reaches deep into your mind with hypnotic voodoo eyes on a face straight out of some deep and ancient ancestral memory, with a sippy hole tab/nose that stays down better than any I've ever used before.

Sorry, all you other coffee lid contenders. Only the McDonald's lid makes a face, and only a face can be crowned with some dinosaur head!

This reminds me of an ewok. I'll bet McDonald's knew that some dude with a blog would put hair on a picture of their coffee lid, and they didn't want to miss the opportunity to cash in on some of the most pervasive pop-culture imagery ever. Man, talk about market research...

In case that last theory got you wondering, yes, I did go to a bunch of coffee places to get comparison lids after seeing the freebie lid from McDonald's and conceiving of this post and yes, I bought and drank a large coffee from every one. YeeeeeHaaaaa! See you again after the inevitable crash.

Am I Jittery? No, not at all!... now stop vibrating like that, you freaks!


PS - A reader sent me a lid pic from a growing Ontario coffee chain, Coffee Culture. As tempting as it is, no face, no dinosaur head; here it is:

You know what? I will add a picture of any and all coffee lids (except repeats) that anyone cares to email me or link via comment. This post could become a coffee lid dictionary!


Steve A said...

On another note, how is it that only the dominant Canadian outfit. Tim Horton, escapes the bilingual police?

Also, Starbucks has little plastic plugs for those not wanting a sippy hole. I think they invented them for the drive-through crowd.

jeff said...

Coffee lid by Edvard Munch.

RANTWICK said...

Steve - French for Tim Horton's is Tim Horton's. There are no other words on the lid. I assure you that Tim Horton's cups are bilingual as any.

ChipSeal said...

The Starbucks and McDonald's design also retain the full rim "grasp" while the other tabbed designs interrupt it, making them far more likely to pop off when handling the cup.

What is a blessing in all of this, is that no government agency has yet determined that they have to intervene and design a better sippy cup lid and then force us to use it. Ain't the free market grand?

For some silly reason, I can never find coffee at my locally grown farmers market. Or bananas either! What's up with that?

Keri said...

The hair makes it!

I've asked the servers at stores with notoriously hot coffee to please put a few ice cubes in it so I can drink it now, instead of with lunch.

BTW, these fit in a water bottle cage... for those who like to have their coffee on the go.

Marrock said...

The hell with the crap paper cups with their plastic fail lids, I got myself a stainless steel thermos flask that fits in a bottle cage.

Friends don't let friends drink starbucks.

Anonymous said...

Push the flap into the helps avoid spills and lip burn.

cafiend said...

I'm with the reusable cup crowd whenever possible. I have not attempted to carry a coffee on my bike.

I think Steve A referred to the lack of a heat warning en Fran├žais on the Tim Horton's lid. In fact, I see no warning at all. Linguistically, Starbucks is the over-achiever, providing not only English and French but Spanish as well.

fowgre said...

For your collection. Sorry that the pic is a bit out of focus. Taken with a cellphone, which leaves something to be desired.

Larissa said...

Foam Aroma lids have just hit the market. While they don't feature a dinosaur face, they are aesthetically pleasing. They also help with the whole coffee burning your tongue off thing. On their website, they actually have a PDF proving that their lid helps keep the coffee from burning your tongue! Also, you can actually smell your coffee (taste is 75% smell) and they don't spill very easily! Here is the website with a picture.

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