The coffee cup lid is one of those seemingly mundane inventions that is so integrated into modern life that it's easy to overlook. There is a fascinating design history behind these items.
In the mid-20th century, with the popularity of drive-ins and fast-food restaurants, customers with hot drinks to-go encountered a problem: they couldn't get their drinks through the lid. So these coffee lovers became accidental designers: They created the first straight-drink coffee cup lid by peeling off a small section of a flat polystyrene thermoformed lid. Since then, designers have created a variety of coffee lid styles, such as biodegradable coffee lids, to solve this simple problem. In their collection, the lids are classified based on how the drinker obtains the liquid.
The categories roughly follow the chronological order of the lids. The first drink lid was a homemade simple flat lid - one would just rip a tattered wedge from the side and hope for the best. This led to the first "peel-off" lids, where the tearing process was aided by perforations and dents to lock the resulting label in place. Then, in the 1980s, a slew of specially designed "drink caps" tried to improve the experience. This "golden age" produced some often unwieldy solutions, such as the now rare "pinch" and "pierce" variants. Currently, "pulled" covers - taller domes, ergonomic lips, oval grooves, and inexpensive one-piece designs are the norm.
With so many fizzy drinks out there, the design of compostable sip lid has definitely changed. The lid with extra "loft space" is designed to accommodate latte lovers and whipped cream connoisseurs around the world. Another trend focuses on the introduction of new materials. We're starting to see more compostable plastics, as well as thermochromic plastics that change color as the beverage heats up.
Of course, future lids will contain internet connectivity and photovoltaic power. We are now seeing many lids produced by coffee lid manufacturers sculpted into decorative forms, such as faces, lids that can change color like thermochromic lids, and lids that "enhance" the drinking experience, increasing aroma concentration.
Hopefully people will experience the basic and profound satisfaction of watching. Just look at the things around us. Coffee mug lids are unpretentious modern marvels, but we rarely slow down and take the time to think, admire and even wonder about these humble masterpieces.