If there is an unsung hero for take-away coffee, it is the lid. This humble but ubiquitous piece of plastic is all that stands between you and a lap full of piping hot single origin washed Yirg. And let’s be honest, the disposable lid is probably going the way of the buffalo; with the current focus on sustainability and reusability, there isn’t much room for the one-time use plastic lid in the modern world. Soon, we’ll all be saying, “remember plastic lids?” To which the response will be, “no.”

But a new book by two architects immortalizes the plastic coffee to-go cup lid, forever recording it in the annals of time. And the Smithsonian Museum as well.

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According to the Austin American-Statesman, “Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture” is the work of Louise Harpman and Scott Specht, New York and Austin-based architects, respectively, who bonded over their love of coffee lids. No, seriously. The pair met while studying at Yale, where they discovered the other person shared their love of lid collecting.

“When we realized we had the same interests, we began to compare items and traded lids almost like trading cards,” Specht says. “From then on, whenever we would travel together, we’d be on the lookout for new variations or types.”

Their combined collection of lids “was considered so crucial to understanding one part of American culture and technology, it was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution.”

Released in March, “Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture” is 256 pages of photography, illustrations, patent drawings, and an entire classification system devoted to “the small bits of humble genius that surround us every day,” per the book’s website.

On the classification system, Specht tells the Statesman:

Some of the most important include: structural braces or moldings to prevent the lid from deforming and popping off when the cup is squeezed; ventilation ports to allow pressure to be equalized in the cup during drinking; foam lofts to prevent the whipped top of high-volume drinks from being crushed; and slosh-prevention systems, which allow overflow to drain back into the cup after a rough jolt.

Admittedly, I never use plastic lids. They mess up the flavor of the coffee. I just take a few extra hot slugs to get the liquid levels down to something more manageable and I live with the risk of spills, which explains why there are so many coffee stains in the crotch of literally every single pair of pants I own. But nonetheless, I can’t help but admire the devotion to the humble lid. Sure, they aren’t going to be around forever, but that’s all the more reason to appreciate them while they are here, before “Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture” becomes an ancient history book.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

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