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Dec 2, 2019 8:00 AM ET

Unocup - the no-lid foldable paper cup Unocup is the new, sleek paper coffee cup that makes plastic lids a thing of the past

Unocup - the no-lid foldable paper cup Unocup is the new, sleek paper coffee cup that makes plastic lids a thing of the past

iCrowd Newswire - Dec 2, 2019


Unocup is the new to-go paper coffee cup that replaces plastic lids, and can create a healthier Earth with cleaner oceans.

Customers desperately want a cup which they feel will contribute to waste reduction, while having no compromise to the drinking experience. 

Unocup uses a well-tested patent pending folding design to create its own lid as an integrated top. The cup is a breeze to fold, hold, drink from, cheaper, and of course, a lot more sustainable.

 Featured on Fast CompanyNew York PostFood & WineMSNYahoo, designboom, Core77CBS Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca, and World Journal.

8.25 million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean each year. These types of plastics take a million years to decompose, and cause significant harm to the planet. 

With Unocup, you could help the planet by getting rid of the plastic lids that create tens of millions of pounds in plastic waste each year, and still enjoy your coffee on the go, even better than before.  

The plastic lid was invented in the 1960s, and is an outdated model that requires 2 parts when in reality, you only need one


Closing Unocup is as easy as 1,2,3. Simply fold over each flap and insert the tab. Opening is as easy as a press of a button, literally. No need to timidly pop off a lid in fear of the potential mayhem. 


Customers and baristas don’t have to fiddle around for a lid, making getting your coffee even easier. No more worrying about your lid popping out, or whether or not to take one. With Unocup, all you need is in one place.

Unocup’s unique shape fits straight into your palm. Comfortable and pleasant to hold, Unocup’s uniform structure creates a strong and consistent body that won’t cave under pressure, unlike traditional cups.

Unocup’s drinking spout is designed to fit your lips perfectly and create the smoothest drinking experience. Traditional plastic lids feature a rigid opening that feels unnatural, while Unocup’s curved drinking spout guides your beverage fluidly to your mouth. 

People who have used Unocup stated it feels better to drink out of than a regular cup
You would think this picture is identical to the one above…? Look closer. (Hint* Unocup is in open position)

Unocup’s flaps can be folded backwards, so that you can drink from the rim just like a normal cup. Stir your coffee, feel it’s warmth, and add in milk or sugar with nothing in your way.

fold Unocup open, closed, and backwards

Unocup’s ability to fold backwards also means that baristas CAN perform latte art with it. In fact, baristas have expressed that due to its unique shape, it feels even easier to craft latte art!  

Since the first prototype in 2015, and the 800 prototypes that followed it, we’ve ran with, shaken, and stirred all the cups we made in order to ensure we arrived at a design that was ready for all of your rush time needs (and, well, sometimes clumsiness, we’re only human).

a lot less of this.

Unocup’s design is optimized for mass-production using existing cup-making machinery. Using Unocup will yield significant cost and energy savings in manufacturing, storage, and transportation that would otherwise be spent on plastic lids. 

Alexis during her process

Unocup is collaborating with NYC artist Alexis Kandra to create unique custom made Unocups and high quality prints available through Unocup’s Kickstarter. 

Alexis paints animals from different environments and time periods to raise awareness of the threats they face from human activities.  She brings diverse animals together in surreal arrangements, inviting viewers to think about the connections the creatures share. See more of her work at her Website:, Instagram: @kandra_art

Plain White Unocups – $12 (20 cups)

Limited Edition Unocups – $20 (10 cups), $45 (30 cups)

1 ‘Why Would You Do That To Dolphins’ T-shirt, x5 Limited Edition Unocups, 1 Unocup U logo Sticker

Alexis Kandra 1 Printed Unocup + 1 “Living Fossils” High Quality Print + 5 Limited Edition Unocups – $109 

One Hand-Painted Unocup by Alexis Kandra – $349

 Plain White Unocups – Larger Orders

 $99 (200 cups, for home or business), 

Best for Businesses (10oz Unocups, can hold 8oz as well): 

$150 (1000 cups), $225 (2000 cups), $535 (5000 cups)

Tom and Kaanur talking to a customer at Brooklyn Army Terminal.

In 2015, frustrated by the amount of waste on the streets, Tom came up with an idea for a new paper coffee cup that eliminates plastic lids. The cup prototypes then garnered a lot of attention and won a $100k prize in the international design contest New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize organized by Open IDEO and Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It also got featured on BBCFast CompanydotNYC and National Geographic, as well as exhibited in a major museum in Taiwan.

Some years later, Tom and Kaanur, both longtime friends, decided to work together on making the cup become a reality. Hundreds of prototypes later, and with the help of peers and mentors, they arrived at their final lid-free paper cup design. Unocup maximizes ease of folding for customers and baristas, spill proofing, cost-saving, manufacturability, and has a sleek modern look. 

Tom Chan and Kaanur Papo

Tom Chan is a Cooper Union graduate, Co-Founder of Unocup, and award winning designer and entrepreneur who was born and raised in Hong Kong. Tom loves ping-pong and cool stuff. He plans to read Mob Psycho (and maybe My Hero Academia) after the Kickstarter launch. 

Kaanur Papo is a graduate from Pratt Institute, Co-Founder of Unocup, designer, and architect. A native New Yorker, Kaanur has a life long passion for art and innovation, and loves very short walks on the beach. 

Alexis Kandra is an artist based in New York City and a graduate of the Tyler School of Art. Alexis grew up with a passion for art-making and the natural world. Her paintings are inspired by natural history dioramas, psychology, and the unseen elements that connect everything together. 

 Why Kickstarter? 

By launching a Kickstarter, Tom and Kaanur hope to bring Unocup to market and achieve their vision of having the lid-free cup at every coffee shop and restaurant, thereby eliminating plastic lids for good. In order to meet the requirements for a first batch of Unocups, which includes the minimum order size and retooling costs, we are turning to the public who has expressed their strong excitement in seeing Unocup come to life. 

Part of the funds raised will be used to compensate the artist as well.


  • December 2019 – Funding concludes
  • January 2020 – Manufacturing commences
  • February – April 2020 – Manufacturing concludes
  • May/June/July 2020 – Cups and artwork shipped (Giving ourselves time should any contingencies happen)

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Special Thanks to…

We would like to thank our friends and mentors below for helping us along the way to make this campaign happen:

  • Jeffrey Restrepo, Candy Yuen, Teruko Kushi, Hannah Kruh-vort  – fantastic videographer and models respectively (and amazing friends). Also a big thank you to Burly Coffee for providing us their awesome space to videotape Unocup in action.
  •  CARA Vision and Larry Pang for sponsoring Unocup with **dope** photos! CARA Vision is a close-knit squad of photographers, videographers, stylists and make-up artists who share a chic and spacious studio in Manhattan, New York, specializing in commercial photography to show off products and bring ideas to life.
  •  CW&T and Jonathan Bobrow – Kickstarter veterans who entertained our relentless questions and guided us about the dos and don’ts.
  • Moon Kang, Shien-ru Tsao, Sam Nejame, Antonio DiMeglio, Judy Wong, Danielle Lee – industry professionals who spent time with us discussing our startup and figuring out next steps
  • Futureworks Incubator, Cafeteria Culture for giving us space to display cups and obtain feedback.
  •  Cooper Union Invention Factory – the invention competition/incubator where the idea for the lid-free coffee cup was first conceived. Prof. Wolf and Prof. Lima have witnessed the cup’s growth since 2015.
  • All the friends and family who have supported us throughout.

Risks and challenges

Since this is our first Unocup batch, we are allocating extra time to make sure we have enough time to fulfill the orders. We understand that initial production of a unique product such as Unocup is always difficult and full of technical risks, so we are making sure to create a clear line of communication with our contract manufacturer, and will be conducting test runs ahead of our full launch. We have spent a long time (4 years and 800+ prototypes) to perfect the design so that there are as little interruptions as possible when manufacturing Unocup. We will communicate with backers openly and honestly should any issue arise.

Contact Information:


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