The Science of the Sip

The Ruumi lid may seem like a simple concept, but its design was inspired by rocket science. In fact, its creator, Robert Polt, a Seattle-based coffee-lover, drew from his aerospace research and engineering expertise to craft an original model—one that made better functional sense than a traditional lid.

For years, Robert couldn’t put his finger on why sipping from a to-go cup was not as satisfying as drinking from an open mug at home. He tested every new model and even experimented with ceramic textures that felt like mugs. But the awkwardness was still there.

Rethinking the flat lid

Then one day, an idea struck. The problem was not the material, but the flat shape of the lid that bumps your nose and makes you tilt back your head to sip. All this only to be aggravated by the prominent sliders found on most of these lids.

Now with a clear focus, the hunt for a solution began. The first idea involved a sippy-cup style drinking spout—but that made the lid taller and felt too childlike. Next, a balanced flap that opens and closes as you tilt the cup towards you—but that had too many moving parts. Idea after idea, this exploration led to a revelation about the unused space under the lid.

Inventing the nose recess

In order to fit the contours of the face, the most logical conclusion was to lower the lid using an angular-shaped depression deep enough to accommodate the nose. At first, it seemed this might displace the liquid in the cup and cause the drink to overflow. But that didn’t end up being the case. Not only was the cup volume unaffected, but the recess actually served as a protective barrier to limit splashing. The slider also needed to be completely redesigned to fit between your upper lip and nose. It was important that it could be removed easily and include click-in functionality.

The Sanitary Shape

With the sipping comfort improved, there was a chance to address another problem: where you put the lid when you remove it for a refill in a coffee shop. It turns out there was a simple way to solve that, too. Ruumi’s unique shape raises the sip hole, keeping it from touching contaminated surfaces when the lid is placed face down on the counter.

The Ruumi lid was awarded multiple patents and awards for its innovation, setting itself apart from traditional, basic lids. Its simplicity is actually the product of a complex design—so obvious, yet distinctively unconventional at the same time.