Q1. Tell us where it all began
Our mission is to help turn the tide on single-use disposable cups by developing a range of colourful and stylish reusable alternatives.
Monkey Cups, barista standard coffee cups made in Waterford, Ireland, began with a sketch on Mailo’s kitchen table, fuelled by her passion to turn the tide on single-use because she was increasingly concerned by the billions of single-use coffee cups that end up in landfill every year.
“Inspired by the 100th Monkey Phenomenon of Social Change – the idea that once a certain number of a group start using a new habit, it will be taken up instinctively by all.”
With years of experience within the design, hospitality, food and beverage sectors, Mailo had seen the growth of the coffee culture and the growing need to provide an alternative to disposable single cups for coffee on the go. Over 4 million single use cups are thrown away in Ireland ever week.
When Mailo Power first came up with the idea of making coffee cups that would fit barista coffee machine, she wanted to inspire reuse by designing a cup that provided an alternative to single-use disposable cups for coffee on the go for people who were passionate about coffee.
Inspired by the 100th Monkey Phenomenon of Social Change – the idea that once a certain number of a group start using a new habit, it will be taken up instinctively by all.
Monkey Cups are colourful and functional, they don’t absorb odours and are thermal shock resistant. Monkey Cups started selling both to Cafés, retail sector including Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Mulligan’s Pharmacies and to consumers via its website. Monkey Cups also custom brand for corporate clients, which include Emerald Airlines, Today FM, LEO Waterford, Flahavans, Diageo, Red Hat, IDA and AIB
“Monkey Cups are colourful and functional, they don’t absorb odours and are thermal shock resistant.”
Q2. What differentiates you from similar businesses in this area?
When we started our journey back in 2018 there weren’t many reusables cups available. Now there are a variety of reusable cups in the market place.
People love to use our products for a lot of reasons, their modular design being one of them. With the create your own feature on our website we have over 1,444 different Monkey Cup colour combinations. You can literally create your very own Monkey Cup to suit your personality or brand. The modular design also means you can mix and match and refresh your Monkey Cup without the need purchase a new product as lids, sliders and bands can be purchased separately on our website.
Quality, design, aesthetics and drinking pleasure are important features. From our lids and sliders that are manufactured locally here in Waterford, to our wider silicone band which feels better in the hand our focus is on the quality of the experience of using a Monkey Cup, coffee simply tastes better from glass.
Colour and attention to detail also play a big part in our products, Mailo has a Masters in Fine Art, this comes through across our entire range including delivering custom branded products for corporate clients. One client commented recently, ‘we love our new ‘brand in the hand’ Monkey Cups, they really got brand colour palette spot on.
Q3. What are your top ‘moments of joy’ over the past 4-5 years?
Along with the challenges there have been many moments of joy over the years, Monkey Cups started as a sketch on my kitchen table in March 2018, going from initial drawing to design and manufacturing to launching at Showcase Ireland 2019 was quite a journey. Winning a Best Product Awards at Showcase 2020 in the RDS and being named Best Reusable Cup in Ireland in 2022 was special.
Inspiring change and Co-branding with so many great companies always brings joy. However, it’s the little things like receiving photos of Monkey Cups from around the world, like in front of the Statue of Liberty, or in front of the Eiffel Tower. This always brings a smile to Monkey Cups HQ.
The greatest joy comes from seeing reusable cups becoming the norm and helping to prevent over 3,000,000 disposal cups from ending up in landfill since we started our journey.
Q4. What would you say are the biggest challenges your business is currently facing?
Like all businesses the rising costs within the supply chain and doing business is challenging. We live in uncertain and challenging times but as the COVID19 pandemic clearly illustrated when we support each other we can discover new ways of doing things that we never thought were possible.
The climate and single-use plastic waste crisis is a concern for us all, an estimated 51 trillion pieces of plastic now litter the world’s oceans. At the current rate, pieces of plastic will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050. That is the legacy we are leaving future generations.
Q5. What does the future hold for your business?
Monkey Cups is more than an alternative to single-use it’s a movement for change. Covid-19 has given us all the opportunity to look at our lives, it’s no longer a case of business as usual, this is transformational change. We must question how we do business and what impact we are having on the earth.
We will continue to manufacture durable and reusable products that provide the same on-the-go drinking pleasure as Monkey Cups, that people enjoy using time after time, minimising waste and reducing the need for virgin resources such as trees.
We have two new reusable products coming on stream in Q4. In addition we have a number of exciting NEW collaborations coming up with a number of companies.
We are also looking forward to entering the reusable products market in the Netherlands in November 2022.
With the latte levy coming in later this year we look forward to working with businesses providing them with alternatives to single-use disposable cups. This is about circular systems that remove waste and reuse materials for as long as possible. It’s about behaviour change, from a use-toss culture to refocus on reducing waste and reusing being the norm.
Monkey Reusable Products Limited creating a wave of change. Small change. BIG impact.
“Monkey Reusable Products Limited creating a wave of change. Small change. BIG impact.”