“Tall, grande or venti?” Whatever your usual order, if you drink coffee and are perpetually in a rush, you’ve probably gone about more than one busy day carrying a paper cup. Personally, if I’m traveling the world and don’t feel like venturing off into new culinary experiences for breakfast, a globally recognized brand like Starbucks is always a sure bet.

If I’m in an exotic, tropical city, I might order a Frappuccino, which will arrive in a transparent plastic cup with a delicious pile of whipped cream on top. When I find myself in New York during the Christmas holidays, I don’t think twice about going for something hot — and I challenge anyone to resist the aroma of a steaming cup of espresso that warms your hands and delights your senses!

In general, before approaching the counter to order you’ve got two options: get what you’ve always gotten for the last ten years or consider the in­store promotional ads that invite you to try concoctions made with improbable flavors such as cinnamon, pumpkin or even tiramisu!

Let’s stick with something a bit more traditional — a caramel macchiato, perhaps — and get back to the real product experience. As I near the pick­up counter, I see the barista moving his hand like a painter crafting a work of art. But just as I reach my hand out to take that caramel masterpiece, woven like a rare Bottega Veneta wallet, the barista slaps a thick white lid on the drink like he’s covering up a scandalous mistake. He thanks me with a smile, and as if it’s the most natural thing in the world, I put my lips to the little plastic hole and nurture myself with a regenerative serum that I am no longer able to identify by color or consistency.

Why shouldn’t we see the beauty of what we’re drinking?

Imagine you’re heading out for a tropical cruise and you’ve booked a porthole view cabin. When you get to the room, the porthole is there but has been covered… and what’s more, it has been done on purpose! Wouldn’t you be disappointed?

So now I sit down with my covered cup of coffee, and it’s time to immortalize it with a picture on Facebook. By now, everybody knows the Starbucks name and logo so I guess I’m left with the ol’ “Gosh, look, they spelled my name wrong” shot which will probably go largely unnoticed on my friends’ newsfeeds (but what the heck, at least I’m updating my profile).

After pressing the share button, I take another sip and carefully set my drink down. I look at the lid and close one eye fantasizing about having a special superpower that enables me to spy beyond the plastic.

xrayvision

There has to be an easier way! A way to start the day with a truly multisensory experience. As they say on all those Food Network shows, you “eat with your eyes” first: the colors, the anticipation, the beauty. What’s more, major coffeehouse chains showcase beautiful pictures in their ads, which should be matched with a consistent product experience — and yet they cover up the eye­candy before customers can even appreciate it, leaving us to use our imaginations (or superpowers) to get the full experience we paid for.

If X­ray vision isn’t your specialty, wouldn’t you prefer to sip your morning brew from a cup like this?

transparent_cup

Think about it. Beyond letting you see what you’re drinking, a transparent lid would showcase a truly original aspect of the product — the milk foam — adding visual appeal to your morning indulgence. As a bonus, the milk foam could sport decorations destined to go viral on social media: for instance, a delicious swirl of chocolate in the form of the customer’s initial.

And if Starbucks and other coffee companies are worried about lawsuits stemming from third­degree burns (Stella Awards, anyone?), innovation is on our side: there are heat­resistant transparent plastic lids as well as plastic films that would not fog over due to the coffee’s high temperature. If we were able to combine these two properties in one lid and if economies of scale would optimize production costs, we could definitely revolutionize the paper cup drinking experience!

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