If there are two things that should be kept apart in order to preserve your health, it’s hot food or beverages and plastic.
Thin, single-use plastic cups and other containers should never be put in the microwave, and that’s more or less common knowledge.
The more we learn about plastics and their tendency to break down and seep into our food and drinks, the clearer it’s become that the best practice is to avoid plastics whenever heat is involved.
In our experience, the less plastic that comes in contact with your food or drinks in general, the better.
Can you microwave Starbucks cups? If this isn’t news to you, it likely comes as no surprise that microwaving any of those clear Starbucks cups meant for cold drinks is a definite no-go.
But hey, there should be nothing wrong with microwaving Starbucks paper cups, right?
Well, there shouldn’t be, and there wouldn’t be—if those Starbucks coffee cups were in fact paper cups.
But unfortunately, like so many things in the world that we tend to take for granted as safe and natural, the traditional world-famous white paper Starbucks cups have an interior cup lining made of—you guessed it—plastic.
But worry not. In this article, we’re going to analyze the materials makeup of every type of cup you can get at Starbucks, and tell you if they’re microwave safe.
Read on to get the info you need to keep your coffee hot without risking your health or safety.
What Are Starbucks Cups Made Of?
In terms of what you’re most likely used to getting when you pop in to order coffee, cold beverages or other hot beverages at a Starbucks location, there’s the classic white paper cup (which gets special color treatments around the holidays) and the clear Starbucks plastic cup.
Starbucks Paper Cups
Paper cups at Starbucks are in fact made of paper, but critically they are internally lined with a plastic coating.
For the purpose of evaluating them as potentially microwave safe, they’re actually more accurately considered a plastic cup.
Starbucks has recently been on a mission to reduce the plastic waste associated with its single-use cups, but for now these cups are basically plastic.
Starbucks Cups made of Plastic
The clear Starbucks cups that your iced coffee and other cold beverages come in are just as they appear—thin and cheap single-use plastic.
No muss, no fuss. Nothing complicated.
But really nothing super great either.
At least they’re not masquerading as paper cups.
Starbucks Reusable Cups
With Starbucks making a serious and admirable push to all-out eliminate its iconic single-use “paper” cups with plastic lining and clear plastic cups, it’s launched (or rather re-launched) it’s BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup) reusable cup program.
While you can bring just about any cup as long as it’s clean and fits inside of a large For Here coffee mug (so baristas can prepare your beverage with no contact), as part of the program Starbucks is also now selling branded reusable cups.
These cups are also made of plastic, although in contrast to disposable cups, this plastic is a higher grade polypropylene.
Ceramic and Glass Cups
Starbucks sells some relatively simple, cleanly designed glass and ceramic mugs and cups.
Their website lists 4 options: 2 versions of a ceramic mug and 2 glass mugs—all with relatively simple and subdued styling that Starbucks envisions fitting in well with your home or office decor.
Admirably, there’s both a recycled glass mug and a recycled ceramic mug available for purchase.
Can You Microwave Starbucks Cups Safely?
For the most part, it’s not a good idea to microwave Starbucks cups.
There are a few exceptions, but the vast majority of coffee cups you’ll get from Starbucks are bizarrely and disappointingly dangerous to heat and definitely not microwave-safe.
Classic White Starbucks Paper Cup: Heat in Microwave Safe?
Straight to the point: no, it is not safe to microwave Starbucks cups.
The plastic lining on the inside of the cups will react to being heated in the microwave and cause toxic chemicals to seep into your coffee.
Considering the cup can be or is filled with a blisteringly hot beverage to begin with, this doesn’t exactly give us a ton of reassurance about just how safe it is to even drink from this kind of “paper” cup.
Clear Plastics Starbucks Cup: Microwaving Safe?
Once again, definitely not—although this one may come as less of a surprise.
For the same reason as with Starbucks’ paper coffee cups, you want to avoid applying heat to these so you don’t end up drinking toxic plastic runoff.
Starbucks paper cups are not microwave safe – definitely.
New Reusable Starbucks Cups: Microwave Safe?
Starbucks’ fancy new reusable cups are (drumroll…) actually microwave safe!
As we mentioned, they are still made of plastic, but a higher-quality kind that Starbucks has deemed capable of safely standing up to microwave radiation and reheating.
They do however caution users to remove the lids before microwaving them. If we’re honest though, we probably won’t be putting these in the microwave. Plastic of any kind is probably best kept at room temperature or below when in contact with food or beverages, just to be on the safe side.
Can You Microwave a Starbucks Ceramic Mugs or Glass Cup?
We were pretty shocked when we went to do our research on these seemingly high-quality reusable cups sold by Starbucks.
One might assume that a reusable cup made from ceramic or glass and clearly designed to hold hot beverages would be microwave safe.
Unfortunately, it turns out that only one of these high-end Starbucks cups is certified by Starbucks as a microwave-safe cup: the Recycled Ceramic Mug.
Each of the other 3 items available for purchase in this category are clearly marked as “Do Not Microwave” in the product’s description.
So if you’re in the market for some simple yet stylish reusable glass or ceramic ware, we’d highly recommend finding it elsewhere as Starbucks doesn’t explain why these items aren’t microwave safe, and there’s no good reason why a high-quality ceramic or glass container shouldn’t be microwavable.
How to Safely Microwave Starbucks Coffee
If you’ve read, coffee review, this far you’ve probably come to the depressing conclusion that pretty much every beverage container you’re likely to get at Starbucks—excluding two options you can buy separately from your beverage—is essentially made of cheap plastic (or lined with it) that should never be put in the microwave.
In terms of microwave-safe options from Starbucks, you’ve got the recycled ceramic mug and Starbucks’ new reusable cups.
The latter is of course still made from some form of plastic, and despite being labeled microwave safe today, like other plastic products may later be found to be unsafe when heated or in contact with a hot beverage.
If you really want to be safe when microwaving your coffee, tea or other hot Starbucks drink, we recommend pouring it out of whatever container it originally came in, and into a microwave-safe ceramic mug.
Wrap-Up: Is it Safe to Microwave Starbucks Coffee Cups?
It sure isn’t! Pretty much all coffee cups Starbuck (at least while they’re still providing disposable ones) are made from cheap single-use material which is not intended to withstand reheating.
Whether or not these cups may actually hold up after a quick zap in the microwave should not be your deciding factor, as you’ll effectively be spiking your coffee with an extra shot of toxic plastic runoff.
Your best option for your own health and the planet is to grab yourself a nice reusable cup or thermos and bring it on in (clean!) whenever you stop by your local Starbucks coffee shop.