Reusable cups cost one euro

Something ‘weird’ is going on with UU’s coffee machines... Again

Vier bekers, foto DUB
The old disposable cup, the reusable cup that is now coming out of most machines, the cup from the luxury coffee machines, and the Billy Cup. Photo: DUB

DUB has recently published an article on how the price of a cup of coffee varied depending on the machine you got it from. According to Merijn Smelt of the Facility Services Centre, the error happened because the price increase for a disposable cup was not entered properly in some of the machines. People who brought their own cups had no problems at all. They all paid 1.20 euros regardless of the machine, which corresponds to inflation rates. 

But, once again, there’s slight panic in the air around UU's coffee machines. Last week, a teacher wanted to get a cup of coffee but, when he scanned his staff badge, which normally would grant him free coffee, the machine said 49 euros. “Coffee is the fuel that keeps the university going, but this is pretty extreme,” he said, jokingly. For those who scan a debit card, it costs 2.20 euros, which is also considered a high amount. “This is absurd, I thought 1.45 was a lot already! But this is off the charts, these are Starbucks prices,” complains Laura, a History student. The same cup of coffee cost 1.45 euros only a week prior. 

Reusable coffee cups
However, the prices haven't been increased. It's just that machines are now making use of a reusable cup that costs 1 euro. The beverage itself has not become more expensive. If you pay 2.20 euros, that's 1.20 euros for the coffee and one euro for the reusable cup that comes out of the machine. At the end of October, students and staff members paid 1.20 euros for the coffee and 25 cents for the cup. If you use your own cup, you still pay 1.20 euros. 

As for the 49 euros that appear to employees when they scan their badge, that's a technical problem. “The software can’t process the combination of ‘free coffee’, which is associated with the employee card, and ‘use a hard cup,'" explains a message on the Intranet. The university is working on the problem. In the meantime, those using a staff pass will not be able to get a reusable cup. They will have to use their own cup at all times. 

In addition to reusable cups, the university is also offering the so-called Billie Cups. They are slightly bigger reusable cups, which can be purchased at restaurants and canteens across UU for one euro. A lid costs another euro. This cup can be exchanged for a coin, which can then be exchanged for another cup. You can also take the cup home with you. 

A pile of cups
Getting rid of disposable cups is an attempt to reduce the pile of coffee cups that end up in the university’s trash. In 2022, 1.2 million disposable cups were thrown away at UU. Almost all other Dutch universities have said goodbye to disposable cups too. Whether the pile of cups will disappear completely, remains to be seen. The bins at the University Library in the city centre give the impression that not everyone is aware that the new, reusable cups are actually reusable, which is understandable because the machine doesn't say anything about that fact, Jesper, who studies Earth Surface & Water, has a tip. “If you use one of the 'luxury' coffee machines, there are still cups right next to it. You can get those for free and then put them under a regular machine so you don’t have to buy a cup. I do that because bringing my own cup is a hassle.”