rCup Review

The clocks have gone back, the days are getting colder, and the idea of having a hot drink on the go has become more appealing. After an incident where my coffee cup leaked in my bag alongside my laptop, I figured it was time for it to go into retirement and invest in a new one.

I had three requirements:

  1. 100% leak proof (surprising I know!)
  2. Sustainable
  3. Affordable

After looking online I came across the rCup, which not only fulfilled all these requirements but also has a sleek design that I love.

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Here’s what A Short Walk, the company responsible for it, say about it on cup’s website:

“Finally, there’s a travel mug that’s been designed with practical portability in mind. This  rCUP won’t leak, ever. It keeps your drink hot or cold and you can pick it up without scalding your hand. You can easily open it and take a sip while you’re on the move with one hand. Even better – the drinking experience is great – you never have to drink your coffee through a tiny hole ever again.

Plus every purchase of an rCUP funds a sustainable solution to global waste – it’s made from recycled coffee cups.

rCUP is BPA free, dishwasher safe, leak proof and designed for a 10+ years lifetime. Our reusable cup measures 340 ml. It has a height of 168 mm with, and 144 mm without the lid. The diameter at the base is 64 mm and the lid has a diameter of 84 mm, so it will fit in both your car cup holder and under most coffee machines!

Join the circular economy revolution and enjoy aromatic, hot coffee on the go without the leaks!”

They seemed very insistent that I wouldn’t have a repeat experience of escaped coffee, so I decided to give it a go. It arrived a few days later well packaged with a handwritten note, which is always a really lovely and personal touch. I’ve been using mine for about a month now and I honestly love it. Here’s a rundown of why:

  1. Leak-proof: so far, absolutely no problems with this! I’m more than confident about chucking it into my bag alongside my laptop and chargers. Plus if there are any problems with the seal, A Short Walk will replace worn and damaged ones for free.
  2. Sustainability: big thumbs up for this. 6 rubbish one-use coffee cups go into making the outer thermal layer of the cup, not only cutting down on the demand for new ones, but also helping to recycle some of the 500 billion thrown away every year across the globe. This is just Phase 1 as A Short Walk are currently working, alongside their partners Nextek and Simply Cups, to develop a food grade recycled plastic so that they can make the world’s first cup that is 100% recycled, which as a total biology and conservation nerd I think is really exciting! The cup itself is also designed to by 100% recyclable. I really love the amount of thought that has gone into making these cups as sustainable as possible.
  3. Affordability: the cup is £12 with £3.50 UK shipping through their website and free UK shipping through Amazon with Amazon Prime. While there are definitely cheaper sustainable (and non-sustainable) coffee cups, I couldn’t find ones with the same function for their price. For me personally, the sustainable nature of it was worth paying a bit extra and considering how the cup performs I definitely feel that I’ve got my money’s worth.
  4. Design: this is one of those products that I think is both beautiful in form and function. I love the simplicity of the design, and while it only comes in 4 colours I think they’re all really well chosen. The opening and closing mechanism is a button that you press down which is really satisfying and simple to use and it feels just like drinking from an open cup due to the 360 degree drinking mechanism.
  5. Insulation: there’s not too much to say here other than that it does a pretty good job at keeping hot drinks warm and iced drinks cold without being uncomfortable to hold. It’s perfect for everyday use. I have taken it to the Pentland hills outside of Edinburgh and left it in a cold metal container for several hours and found that my tea was barely luke warm when I came back to it but let’s be reasonable, it isn’t a thermos so I’m not too upset about this.

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The only possible negative I would have to say about this product is that the opening button makes a definite clicking noise when it’s pressed. This normally doesn’t bother me, but as a student I always feel slightly self-conscious opening and closing it while in a lecture or studying in the library as I really don’t want to get on people’s nerves in such a quiet environment by clicking every other minute. As a result I genuinely leave it open in lectures and the library, and I have noticed that naturally drinks will go colder quicker, plus I have to be extra careful not to knock it onto my computer. I should say that this by no means makes it a bad product and I honestly don’t know how much could be done design-wise to reduce this, but I definitely think that if you are interested and know that you would be using it in similar environments then it’s just something to be aware of.

Overall, I love this product. For me, the fact that I can trust it to be leakproof and that it’s making such a positive impact on finding a sustainable solution to depleting natural resources are it’s biggest selling points, but it’s also just a pleasure to use. I think it’s worth the investment if you’re in the market for a new reusable cup.

If you’ve been using an rCup of your own, let me know what you think!

Soph x

 

Chachouka

Confession time: the first year of uni my primary source of nutrition came from couscous and roasted veg. In my defence, it’s cheap and easy but I really wanted to make myself eat a more varied diet going into second year.

Chachouka is one of my favorite recipes I’ve been cooking these last few weeks. It’s a North African stew made from peppers, tomatoes and baked eggs. My mum made this loads at home from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day and it’s such a perfect dish as a student – it’s quick, one pot and less than £1 per portion!

I’ve been making it with my flatmate and we’ve been playing about with the original recipe a bit so if you try it out then let me know what you think!

Soph x


Serves 2 

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp of ground cumin

1 large onion, finely sliced

1 tsp of chopped garlic

2 peppers of your choice, deseeded and thinly sliced (I always go for one yellow and one red)

2 tsp of smoked paprika

2 tsp of chili powder (your choice of strength)

A dash of Tabasco sauce

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

2 eggs

1 potato, chopped (optional)

Bread (to serve. I recommend Lidl’s tiger loaf – delicious and only 69p a loaf)

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C. In a large ovenproof dish heat the oil. Add the onions and cumin powder and saute gently until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and peppers and cook until peppers have softened.
  3. Next add the paprika, chilli powder, Tabasco and season with salt and pepper. Add in the tinned tomatoes and cook to reduce down the liquid (approximately 5-10 minutes). At this point have a taste and adjust the seasoning as you’d like.
  4. Using a wooden spoon create 2 dips in the stew. Break the eggs into each of these hallows and season them with salt and pepper.
  5. Place the dish into the oven and bake until the whites of the eggs have set but the yolk is still runny. Take it out of the oven, dish it up and enjoy!

Optional: if you want to bulk it up a bit more parboil the chopped potato until soft and add to the stew along with the peppers.

An Unplanned Day in Glasgow

So I did a dumb thing. With uni term time relatively close I decided last week that it would be a good idea to make the train journey up to Edinburgh while leaving my rail card in a drawer back in Oxford. Before you ask, no, I don’t really recommend this – while the guy checking tickets was really lovely about it he obviously still had to charge me for the full price ticket. Those things are definitely not cheap but he told me that if I could get my railcard sent up to me I could get the ticket refunded at the Glasgow station.

Fast forward to yesterday and with railcard in hand, my flatmate James and I decided to make a day of this. Glasglow is only about an hour away from Edinburgh on the train (and was only £8.60 return with a railcard) so I’ve already been up a couple of times. While the city has some awesome museums and other popular tourists destinations, I really wanted to explore a new side.

So bad news – after arriving at Glasglow Queen Street Station we headed to Central Station where the lovely lady at the ticket office told me I would be best off emailing customer relations to sort out the refund. But that’s pretty boring stuff, so let’s get onto the fun part.

We headed for about 30 minutes in the direction of Kelvingrove Park to find Tchai-Onva House of Tea. Located on Otago Lane, the tea house doesn’t look like much from the outside but the moment we walked in we were greeted by the most incredibly homely smell of spices and curry. The decor ranged from beautiful handpainted fans to an elephant statue wearing a rainbow bow tie. Honestly this place was incredible. Tchai-Ovna is inspired by Czech teahouses that aim to bring other countries to people’s doorsteps and this teahouse does it perfectly. From the decorations to the menu entitled ‘Around the World in 80 Teas’, Tchai-Ovna transports you to somewhere incredible.

Although the food smelt amazing we’d brought our own packed lunch so decided to stick to the teas for now (though no doubt we’ll be back soon). I had the Rose Pouchong from China which was perfectly sweet and refreshing, both smelling and tasting like a garden in summer. James had the Mate Rancho from South America. Served in a traditional calabash gourd this drink was intensely smoky and tasted like nothing I’ve never had before but I loved it. Both drinks were delicious and I will definitely be returning, especially since they regularly host events.

The Rose Pouchong – can we just take a moment to appreciate how pretty the teapot is?

The Mate Rancho served in a calabash gourd with a metal drinking straw known as a bomba in Portugues

Next to Tchai-Onva is Voltaire and Rousseau. Marked only by a small rusty sign, as with the teahouse the unassuming exterior does no justice to the incredible world inside. Voltaire and Rousseau is a treasure trove of books. The entranceway is piled high with books from leather-bound classics to modern cocktail books, each of which can be yours for just £1. Moving into the main body of the shop the forest of books continued (with one pile was topped by a very fluffy sleeping cat). You could spend hours in this shop just browsing – and I say this because we did just that. I’ll warn you now that at times getting out books will feel like playing Jenga but if you’ve got time to spare it’s certainly worth the visit.

The entrance to Voltaire and Rousseau

Did I mention that there were a lot of books?

After our first hour or so at the bookshop we were starting to get pretty hungry (it was almost 4 after all). As we headed out we met a gorgeous ginger cat and I’m not saying that this kitty was the highlight of the trip or anything because that would be silly,  but it was love at first sight.

 

I may have been in love but this little cutie was more infatuated with the box

We walked for a few minutes to find Kelvingrove Park where we could eat lunch and more importantly, indulge in some dog spotting. There were so many beautiful dogs, many of whom were surprisingly interested in our food. We’d packed some spicy bean and sweetcorn burgers that we’d prepared the night before for dinner, along with salsa and rice. They actually travelled surprisingly well and were even yummier cold than they had been the night before.

As it was nearby and James had never been before we headed down the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It’s a stunning building and houses lots of cool collections. Unfortunately just as we started walking in the direction of the Ancient Egypt exhibit we were told that the museum was closing so we definitely didn’t time that one too well. We decided to walk back to George Square in the centre of the city, but not without first taking a detour both through Glasglow University (aka. Hogwarts) and of course, popping back into Voltaire and Rosseau for another hour.

The stunning entrance hall of the museum. Approximately 2 seconds after this photo was taken we were asked to leave

As most places were closed by the time we got back into the centre of the city, plus our return tickets weren’t valid during peak travel hours (16:42 to 18:15) we decided to just wander around. Glasglow is home to lots of incredible old architecture, and the city centre definitely houses a lot of it. It’s also a really fun city to stroll through because there are stunning murals everywhere and you never quite know what piece of art you might be about to stumble on.

Eventually we got pretty hungry so headed to BLOC+. Located on Bath Street, this bar has a very cool vibe and has a diverse food menu with so many mouthwatering options. When we arrived it was super busy but we didn’t have to wait too long to get sat at a table and the staff were really welcoming. However the star of the show was truly the food. It’s worth mentioning that they do daily food deals and as we were there on a Tuesday they were offering £3 burgers with fries (what a steal right?) but we decided to try some of their more unique options. They have a really interesting selection of veggie and vegan dishes so I was spoilt for choice. We shared the veggie chilli poutine while James got the Sloppy Jock burger (which includes haggis because why not) and I got the veggie Fantastic Man Tacos.

Oh my god, those tacos were delicious. They consisted of these beautifully soft and chewy tacos with shredded veg, jerk-infused nofu and vegan cashew sour cream. Apparently, nofu is their own take on tofu and I have no idea how they changed it but it was the perfect blend of spicey, sweet and nutty, with a crispy outer edge enclosing a centre that melted in my mouth. Can you tell I’m a little bit in love?

Unfortunately, my phone had died long before we got to BLOC+ because I have yet to learn how to be a functioning adult who fully charges her phone. Fortunately James was kind enough to let me use his phone to take some pics but honestly, no pictures could ever do justice to how amazing the food was.

The Fantastic Man Tacos

£3 burgers and £5 steaks? What is this beautiful madness?

Pleasantly stuffed and satisfied we headed back to the Queen Street Station and onto Edinburgh. Even though it’s not something I would recommend, I’m secretly somewhat grateful for forgetting my railcard otherwise we never would have discovered these gems.

Soph x