The Quest for a Better Lid
For years, we longed for a to-go cup that would match the universal ease of sipping from an open mug at home. Despite countless experiments with various cup and lid designs, the awkwardness was still there. That made us wonder if there could be a more effective solution.
Right under our noses
Initially, we thought the problem was the material of the lid. However, even after the introduction of to-go ceramic cups resembling the material of the home mug, the problem persisted. The turning point occurred when we realized the real culprit was something most of us take for granted: the flatness of the lid. Flat lids, including those with elevated flaps or sliders, are the reason sipping on the go feels awkward. They invariably bump against your nose, forcing you to tilt your head back every time you take a sip. Still, the concept of a flat lid was so deeply entrenched that nobody had seriously questioned it.
Rethinking the traditional lid
While departing from the flat shape may seem obvious in retrospect, it was not without its own challenges and hurdles. Our first impulse was to try what many others already had—raising the sipping spout above the flat top to clear the nose. Yet, we realized that raising it a minimal amount made little difference, and raising it higher made the lid too tall and the cup more awkward to use.
Still searching for a better solution, we devised a balanced flap that opens and closes as you tilt the cup towards you—but that had too many moving parts. The complex mechanism would easily gum up due to sticky residue. While doubts about its feasibility were building, we had a crucial revelation about the unused space under the lid.
Inventing the nose recess
The typically ignored space between the lid and the beverage offered a unique opportunity to create additional room for the nose. Lowering the center of the lid to the beverage level was the first step. However, that didn't entirely solve the problem. We needed more depth, so we further decreased the recess, allowing part of the lid to be submerged in the beverage. This maintained a low lid profile and kept the sipping spout close to the beverage.
To prevent overspills, we created a steep, angular-shaped depression specifically designed to minimize the volume of the recess. This left the cup capacity practically unchanged, allowing it to be filled to nearly the same level as with a standard lid. As an added benefit, the deep recess served as an additional barrier to limit splashing.
Splash-proofing the new design
A remaining challenge was to find a way to cover the sip and vent openings to prevent uncontained splashes. Fitting a regular slider in the limited space between your upper lip and nose was not possible. So we had to come up with a complete new design and a number of innovative solutions, which ultimately gave rise to the slider's current unconventional shape.
Another layer of protection
Next, we considered a problem that often occurs while at the coffee shop. When you remove the lid to hand your cup to the barista or to add cream and sugar, you need to set the lid down. As you do that, the sip hole or the lower edge of the lid is often exposed to unclean surfaces. To solve this, we designed a sloped rim that naturally tilts the lid back under gravity when it is placed face down. This ensures the sip hole remains suspended above the countertop, eliminating contact with unhygienic surfaces.
A difference in every sip
Recognized with multiple patents and innovation awards, Ruumi’s distinctive feel and shape are the results of a dedicated mission to enhance on-the-go sipping. Now in its third generation, the lid’s finer elements have been consistently perfected, with fresh innovations incorporated in each successive model. It’s simple elegance and unintrusive design ensure an unparalleled experience wherever the day takes you.
Robert Polt is the founder of Ruumi, combining his aerospace expertise and passion for innovation to explore creative ways of enhancing everyday products. From improving flight efficiency and safety to crafting a lid that elevates the sipping experience, he is dedicated to fostering team creativity and pioneering new technologies.