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Paper cups and alcohol

By Steffen Andersen · 23. May 2020

Due to a higher focus on sustainability paper cups are being used more and more for serving drinks, alcohol tasting, and so on. We have both been helping customers make paper cups for festivals, but also helping companies make samplings in supermarkets. Paper cups are a great way for spirit brands to promote their products since the paper cups can be printed all-over the design can match exactly the look and story that the brand is trying to tell.

Paper cups are not only great because of the design opportunities, but since there are so many different sizes they can both be used to give a little sample tasting or for serving mixed drinks with your alcohol in them.

Malibu® Paper cups

Since paper cups are coated with a small layer of plastic and the rest of the cup is paper, in contrast to plastic cups that are only made of plastic. Then there are a couple of things to have in mind when switching from plastic cups to paper cups.

The reason why we are making this article about things to consider is that we want to avoid situations where your paper cups start leaking. This is due to some different factors that can make the plastic and paper in the paper cups start dissolving.

The difference in alcohol percentage

When it comes to alcohol percentage, it is important to know that standard paper cups should primarilly only be used to serve alcohol that has a percentage under 5 %. We have found this is the normal threshold. But we are also able to make paper cups that can be used for serving alcohol with a higher percentage than 5 % – We have made these types of paper cups to be used for serving rum, vodka, and other strong alcohols without it have been mixed.

Kahlua® Paper cups

We have had some customers who have been using our standard paper cups to serve stronger alcohols without mixing it in our standard paper cups, without having any trouble with the cups leaking. But these cases have been where our customers have been doing samplings, and the drink was finished rather quickly after it had gotten poured up.

Another situation where our standard paper cups are great is when they are used to serve mixed drinks, we have both help Malibu, Campari, Absolut Vodka and other alcohol brands with making paper cups for events they were hosting or attending to serve their drinks.

PLA- vs PE-coating

The other primary thing to take into consideration if you want to serve alcohol in paper cups is the coating on the paper cups. There are two types of coating; PLA coating and PE coating. PLA coating is a biodegradable coating, so the paper cups can degrade in industrial compost. PE coating is the standard plastic coating that is used by almost all paper cups.

The reason why it is important to know the difference between these two types of paper cups is that the PE coating is stronger than PLA coating, so when it comes to making sure that the paper cups do not leak when used for paper cups. Then PE-coated paper cups are better, and it just gets more important to choose PE-coating when the alcohol percentage is higher. Our alcohol proof paper cups can only be made with a PE-coating.


Paper cups are a great way of showcasing your brand and serving your products. But if you are not careful when choosing the paper cups, then it can end up in a bad experience for the ones tasting your products with leaking paper cups. The two aspects to have in mind when it comes to alcohol and paper cups is that you should ask for alcohol proof paper cups if the alcohol concentration is over 5 %. And remember that PLA coating is not as strong as PE-coating when it comes to alcohol percentages.

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