The Iconic New York Coffee Cup

Reinforcing the icon: Packaging / Identity / Marketing

Every city needs its symbol. When Greek immigrants came to New York at the beginning of last century, they brought the coffee culture. The famous cardboard coffee cup appeared in 1963. Today, hundreds of thousands drink coffee in this symbolic cup. Graham Hill reinvented it, and produced it in ceramic.

Design principles: eco-environmental philosophy!!!

A simple, recycled, minimalistic and environmentally efficient design (industrial design, materials, printing and delivery).

The Icon = The cup

The coffee paper cup appears on movies, series and TV shows. The cup is an icon of the big apple.


Simple, recycled, minimalistic and enviromental efficient design.

Promotional Materials

The iconic "We Are Happy To Serve You" paper coffee cup was introduced in 1963 by Leslie Buck. More than 180 million of the distinctive blue-and-white Grecian-style cups are used in New York City every year. The environmentally minded design group, Exceptionlab, in conjunction with the Sweetheart Cup Company, Inc. and Aid to Artisans, converted the design from disposable to permanent. This ceramic New York Coffee Cup and Espresso Cup was designed by Graham Hill.

I (heart) NY

A tea (also coffee) mug alternative to the main iconic cup

Used since the mid-1970s to promote tourism in New York State. The logo, created by Milton Glaser, is one of the designer’s several works that is represented in MoMA’s design collection.

Conclusions / Solutions

I collaborated on this project by developing its packaging and devising its promotional materials. Marketing the product was an important factor in elevating the cup to its design piece stature (the cup became a MOMA Design Store hit). Today, the cup is sold in over 250 stores in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Europe.


WeAreHappyToServeYou is one of ExceptionLab Inc.'s projects: a small business run by Graham Hill in and out of New York city. Its primary mandate is to create socially and/or environmentally progressive small businesses.


Art Direction: Identity / Marketing / Packaging
New York
2010 - 2014