Who is Credited With The Invention of Coffee Cup Sleeves?

Similar to the custom ones made by CS, coffee sleeves have become an indispensable aspect of our modern, fast-paced, coffee-centered lifestyles. But have you ever questioned who was behind the creation of these handy sleeves? Though they may have been a fixture in every coffee shop and convenience store for ages, the recognizable form of the coffee cup sleeve is a recent innovation. The credit for this goes to Jay Sorensen, the mastermind behind this helpful invention.

Introducing Jay Sorensen: The Creator of Coffee Cup Sleeves

Jay Sorensen’s career path turned when he transitioned from managing a family-owned gas station in Portland to become a real estate agent. However, it was not through real estate that he would leave a lasting impact, but rather through his innovative idea of using embossed cardboard. The concept of coffee cup sleeves as we know them today originated from a mishap in 1989 when Sorensen burned his fingers and spilled coffee on himself after purchasing a cup from a drive-thru.

Determined to find a solution for holding paper coffee cups securely and comfortably, Sorensen initially experimented with a double-layered cup, which was expensive and not eco-friendly. In 1991, he refined his concept and came up with a compact and sleek design that has become iconic. He named his creation the “Java Jacket.”

The Rise of the Coffee Sleeve

In 1993, Sorensen fully committed to his idea and invested $20,000 to start his business. Despite facing some early challenges, it quickly became apparent that he had a winner on his hands. One of his first sales was to the same cafe where he had his original spill and came up with the idea for the coffee cup sleeves. Sorensen continued to grow his business through various trade shows, including the Seattle Coffeefest in 1995.

During the 1990s, Starbucks experienced tremendous growth, and Sorensen saw an opportunity to pitch his concept to the coffee giant. Although Starbucks showed interest in the product, the deal proposed could have been more favorable for Sorensen and his team, and the two parties went their separate ways. Sorensen was granted a patent for his Java Jacket, while LBP Manufacturing was granted a patent for their product, the “Coffee Clutch.” LBP became Starbucks’ leading supplier of coffee sleeves.

Revolutionizing Coffee Sleeves: CS Bring Customizable Solutions to the Market

Although the Starbucks venture didn’t work out, Sorensen is likely not too concerned as his company sells an impressive 1 billion of his coffee sleeves yearly. In the US alone, over 400 million cups of coffee are purchased daily, with a large portion being consumed on the go, and it’s highly likely that the vast majority of these are protected by a variation of Sorensen’s original 1991 design, thereby saving billions of consumers from burning their fingers with hot liquids every morning.

At, we have our own patented design for seamless coffee sleeves with custom messaging and print more than 50 million impressions annually for clients in the food service and hospitality industry, as well as for anyone looking to commemorate a special occasion in a fun and unique way. 

Our aim in the CS design was to shorten the turnaround time and reduce the minimum order required to produce a custom sleeve, thus enabling more timely and relevant messages to be printed. Additionally, as described by founder David Dresner, our variable printing feature creates a “fortune cookie-like effect,” intriguing customers with the anticipation of what will be printed on their sleeves next.


At CS, we are passionate about coffee sleeves and believe they are an excellent way to showcase your brand, celebrate a special occasion, or effectively convey your message. We offer a diverse range of sleeve options and styles, and our dedicated team is ready to assist you in creating the perfect sleeve that conveys your message. So, the next time you hold a wrapped cup of coffee, whether you’ve just received your custom order or are visiting your local coffee shop, let’s give the nod to the inventor of the coffee cup sleeve who made it all possible.

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