USP–The Little Bead of Glue…

8 April, 2009

advertising, Copywriting

To the coffee-drinking world the cardboard coffee sleeve is indispensable. Come 6 or 7 a.m. at the local coffee hole it’s not a good

hot commuter coffee

hot commuter coffee

thing when the stack of cardboard coffee sleeves runs out. Hoards of crabby commuters assault the half-awake coffee guy–sorry…barista.

As an avid coffee-drinker, coffee-ADVENTURER, I seek to try out many different kinds–Stumptown (Portland, OR), Peet’s and Seattle’s Best, Satellite (Albuquerque)….and of course I duck into the ubiquitous Starbucks. Occasionally a cup really stands out, but recently what’s won out over taste even is the grabability of the cardboard coffee sleeve. Have you noticed this phenomenon?

Coffee sleeves are a dime a dozen, made by dozens of differnet companies, many intended as advertising for the coffeehouse or as a moving graphic ad, nevertheless a million that all SEEM to do the same thing. But do they really?

About a month ago I was slinging my car down the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut — traffic moves briskly–drinking my hot coffee from Bruegger’s (Okay, so I enjoy a cup of flavored hazelnut coffee with my bagel) and everytime I picked up the cup to drink the sleeve slipped off. Talk about distraction and scalding hot hands at 70 MPH. I struggled everytime I went to take a sip of coffee. Come to think of it I had had this happen another memorable driving time, but with a coffee from another vendor altogether, and luckily had lived to tell about it. How come I cannot recall this ever happening with my Starbucks coffee?

This morning I decoded my hot cup of Starbucks with its stuck-fast sleeve. While I was driving I noticed no slippage, not even a

simple fix

simple fix

hint of slip.

When I got home I dissected the little cardboard sleeve. Ah HA….those ingenious devils have included on the inside of their coffee sleeves an elusive little bead of clear glue. Until it comes in contact with the hot coffee cup, then melts just enough to bond, you don’t even notice it’s there. In fact, I had to rip it off the outside of my cup to conduct this little analysis.

here’s the sticky:

If I can avoid hurtling along in traffic at the edge of disaster because of an errant coffee sleeve, I know where I’ll be buying coffee for the commute. Talk about a distinguishing USP….

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5 Comments on “USP–The Little Bead of Glue…”

  1. Rob Says:

    To the writer:

    I have known about this little sticky trick, the little spot of glue, for some time. I have a somewhat inquisitive mind, much like you. I am a huge fan of the Starbucks Hot Chai Tea Latte…with the emphasis on HOT.

    Recently I discovered that Starbucks lowered the temperature of their HOT drinks for reasons unknown. This new lower temp does not melt the glue on the inside sleeve and thus rendering the sleeve unattached to the cup and thus the sleeve remains in the cup holder as I reach for my Chai. I now ask for my Chai Extra HOT. The glue seems to stick some of the time. I’d like to know the melting temp of the glue. Maybe an experiment in my garage this weekend is in order


    • jrotman Says:

      THAT’S why the “little bead of glue” on my Starbucks coffee doesn’t work so swimmingly anymore! And I’m glad to know someone else is out there dissecting their coffee sleeves.


  2. Amanda Says:

    I JUST DISCOVERED THIS AS WELL!! I was trying to play with my coffee sleeve by sliding it up and down, until I realized that the sleeve was stuck to the cup!! I struggled for 5 minutes trying to remove it. And once I did, I saw glue remnants on my cup. Starbucks. So smart.


  3. Jimbo H Says:

    I stumbled across this a few weeks ago in a manner similar to Amanda… trying to slip the coffee sleeve down just to fiddle with it…. with a 1/2 full cup of coffee. The glue suddenly let go and the cup popped up and out of the sleeve. I nearly wore that one home. Looking at the sleeve, there is a patent #6863644 which details, among other manufacturing details, the application of that magic bit of hot meltin’ glue.

    “…two lines of heat-activated adhesive 22 are deposited on the fluted surface of the blank 10. This adhesive will soften in response to the hot beverage in the cup and cause the holder to adhere to the cup. This adhesive is at a temperature of about 295° F. when applied.”

    Yep, Starbucks definitely is the one for a sleeve that stays in place. On the other hand, if you like to fidgit with the thing, you may have to look elsewhere, or at least wait until its empty!



  1. Pete’s Guide to Innovation - 13 February, 2014

    […] Jennifer Rotman blogged about her experience drinking coffee (from a bagel shop) where the sleeve kept falling off. When she (like I) realized this didn’t happen with Starbucks coffee, she tore off the sleeve […]

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