There is a lot of waste associated with coffee shops. It is a sad fact that many in the industry are painfully aware of and actively trying to curb. But sometimes, even with the best of intentions, the results are… confusing. Take for example, the Stircle, the new in-counter electric coffee stirrer. It feels like its heart is in the right place, so why can’t I not hate it?
Brought to our attention by Mashable, the Stircle is designed to combat the very real problem of waste in coffee shops, particularly the 400 million—by Amron Experimental’s count, the company behind the Stircle—stir sticks thrown away every day. But the solution feels a bit overdesigned, no? It’s like if you got a bunch of Silicon Valley tech bros in a room and said, “We need you to design a new stir stick, not recreate the wheel,” and all they heard was, “create a new stir stick that is a wheel.”
According to Stircle’s website, the device “costs 99% less to run than stir sticks and it stirs better.” Dubious claims about “stirring better” aside (because what does that even mean? Surely this can’t be a real, verifiable claim), the Stircle ranges in cost from $345 to $490, depending upon whether you get the basic or advanced model. A cursory search yielded a box of 1,000 coffee stirrers for $3.40. For the same cost as a basic Stircle, you can get 101,470 stir sticks (144,000 for the advanced model). I don’t know how many stir sticks your cafe goes through a day, so you’re going to have to do that math yourself to figure out how long the Stircle will have to be operational for you to break even—not accounting for energy costs or maintenance—never mind costing 99% less.
But it’s not about savings, it’s about keeping plastic out of landfills and saving trees. Call me old fashioned, but what ever happened to spoons? Reusable spoons. Yes, they require water to wash, but surely the water lost in spoon washing (which PS: cafes are already washing anyway. Surely there is room for a few more) is paltry in comparison to what it takes to design and produce an electronic stirring device. And you don’t have to go on that $350 ride.
Maybe I’m on the wrong side of history here. In 20 years when there’s a Stircle in every coffee shop and all the empty landfills have been turned into parks and community gardens, I’m going to look like a real dum-dum. I’ll wear my well-earned shame on that day. But until then, give me a spoon.
*all media via Amron Experimental