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Food & Drink

A Tale of Two Cups: That Starbucks Sleeve Is Too Drab for Teavana

(Corrects weight of sleeve in graphic and description of the Teavana cups' paperboard in the third paragraph.)

Starbucks (SBUX) doesn’t want you to think about its ubiquitous coffee chain at all when you visit its fancy new Teavana teahouse, which just opened in New York and which Starbucks plans to spread across the country. And just to make sure, the company is taking the most familiar reminder out of your hands.

A Teavana experience—more relaxed and slightly pricier than the Starbucks equivalent—comes with a paper cup that can’t be mistaken for that old coffee receptacle. In fact, the gleaming white teacup feels almost too luxe for the trash when the tea’s gone. The heavier, double-walled insulated cup is made by Italian packaging manufacturer Seda. Details such as the embossed surface and distinctive lid shape denote Teavana’s upscale ambitions.

And while both the Starbucks and Teavana cups use poly-coated paperboard, Teavana’s contain no recycled material. Only Starbucks uses 10 percent recycled fiber, and the chain publicizes its green claims on the roughly 3 billion paper coffee cups it goes through each year.

Consumers are sure to see more of Teavana’s paper cups in the near future: The company is targeting 1,000 teahouses in North America within 10 years. Bloomberg Businessweek asked Starbucks’s Daniele Monti, creative director for emerging brands, to walk us through the design difference between the two cups:

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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