Changing Behaviour: An Interview with KeepCup's Abigail Forsyth
WRITTEN BY Coffee Supreme
29 November 2018

"People purchase KeepCups because they love the way they look and feel, and continue to use them because they form a positive habit."

When siblings Jamie and Abigail Forsyth started a café business in Melbourne in 1998, disposable cups were entering the public landscape; the signifier of a busy professional life and a vibrant independent coffee scene.

As their business grew, so did their concerns about the volume of packaging being consumed, particularly disposable cups.

In 2007, following unsuccessful trials of existing reusable cups, they decided to design and make their own – a barista standard reusable cup for people to enjoy better coffee on the go.

Jamie and Abigail took a huge gamble that usability, sustainable manufacturing practice and design aesthetics could drive behaviour change and make a difference to how people think about convenience culture. And that punt paid off!

Today KeepCup is synonymous with the notion of reusable coffee cups. So, on the cusp of their ten year anniversary, nine years of Coffee Supreme's distributorship of KeepCup in New Zealand and the first time we have ever produced a Coffee Supreme branded KeepCup we thought we should re-introduce you to co-founder, and Managing Director, Abigail Forsyth.

We sat down with Abigail and asked her a few questions about life and the reusable business...

Q + A with Abigail Forsyth, Co-owner + Managing Director, KeepCup

What is KeepCup and where are you based?
KeepCup is the world's first barista standard reusable cup, designed to replace the one million disposable cups that go to landfill every minute. I'm based in Melbourne.

The name 'KeepCup' has really become synonymous with re-usable cups. How did you come up with the name?
I didn't. It was Andy Sargent from South Southwest, way back in 2008. One of the skill's in my job is in recognizing a great idea when I hear one!

Was there a lightbulb moment that sparked the KeepCup business?
Yes, it was giving my daughter milk in her sippy cup, and thinking, imagine doing this with a disposable. The energising idea for me, since the beginning has been linking fit for purpose product design with behaviour change.

What’s been the biggest challenge KeepCup has faced and how have you overcome it - or are working to overcome it?
It's to be a responsible business, and to constantly redefine what that is, what it looks like and how it feels.

What effect did Craig Reucassel's Australian documentary television series 'War on Waste' have on your business?
It was a game changer, it made the conversation about sustainability mainstream. War on Waste respectfully articulated that we are all complicit in the problem, and that equally, we all have an opportunity to drive the solution.

What do you see as the biggest food + beverage trends of the next 5 years? Or sustainability trends?
Plant based foods - like Minor Figures Oat Milk. A more sustainable crop than almond, fabulous to steam.
A move away from "take away" and bottled beverages.

Is there someone/something emerging in the industry that you're keeping an eye on?
Packaging as a service, it is a great idea, but without some link to civic duty it's challenging.

Do you have a favourite cafe? What is it about the place that makes you like it so much?
Alimentari - for the glorious food and the wonderful conversations I have had there over the last 20 years.

What’s your morning routine?
On a school day I eat my toast at the bread board, simultaneously rustling the troops. Babka bread, almond spread and banana.
On a good day, my husband brings me papers and coffee in bed.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Aarrgh...the alarm

And finally, if KeepCup was a car... What would it be and why?
A Tesla, design your own, re-imagining an existing category in a way people have found useful and desirable.

You can purchase a Coffee Supreme branded KeepCup in New Zealand here and the cork version here.

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