Vessels.

I think my favorite vessel for drinking brewed coffee is glass. I’m still looking for the perfect one, but I like when they only hold a few ounces. There’s something about how it celebrates the colors of the brew, and as my friend Geoff said at work, it makes you want to drink that last mouthful where sometimes the same mouthfeel at the end of a deep mug can seem less appealing.

I’ll always like mugs, and enjoy the range thats possible. But I think I enjoy having a mug rather than drinking from it. I look at sites like this svpply or this gem, and imagine myself sitting in my minimalist apartment drinking another roasters coffee, trying for the third time to read Freedom and sipping from my charming mug. It’d be a Sunday or maybe a less interesting public holiday, and I’d probably consider trying to capture the whole thing on Instagram.

The reality though is that my cupboards are full, and I don’t have room for all these fucking mugs. When I drink  my attention is split between how it tastes and whatever it is I’m working on – normally a mix of dealing with green card forms, wedding plans, trying to figure out just how much I spent over Christmas, or what the dreaded inbox looks like this morning. The point being that I don’t look at the mug.

Its the same at work – I grab one of the many mugs at work, or whichever one I left on my desk from the evening before. There are certainly some I prefer more than others, but if can’t find them its not really of any consequence. I just grab whatever, steal a cupful from whoever made a chemex last, and then go back to figuring out what type of wood grain the next app should be.

The absence of pride of possession at work is not that remarkable though. I work with people who judge you on what you do, not what you’re wearing, no matter how powerful and imposing your new Red Wings look. Which leaves two other environments, coffee shops and coffee to go.

I think the choice of what to serve coffee in is a significant one, and tells something about an operator. I’m slowly wearing of the thick lipped diner mugs that dominate the US. They hold the coffee just fine, and are nice to hug but they tend to make me dribble while I sip too aggressively – something I understand is not exclusive to me. I hope.

Paper cups? I go back and forth on these.

I hate them, and think they’re a reason we find it difficult to distinguish coffee as something culinary and complex. I love them for how they make something culinary and complex approachable and mobile.  They’re terrible for the environment and mute the sensory experience. I’m excited by the efforts of many to make non disposable options though am yet to see one I’d actually purchase. I love how I can walk around Chicago in the depths of winter, sipping my spud free and stupidly lush Burundi. Is it as good as the specially designed glass that allows me to savor the whole of the coffee? No. Is it delicious and mobile? Yes.

So when we reach that day when coffee enjoys the respect of wine, and has a discerning customer base willing to pay for the really good stuff, what will they be drinking out of? I’d like to think all of the options above will still be in play.

Coffee is a democratic drink. That shouldn’t change.

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19 thoughts on “Vessels.

  1. Todd says:

    Loved this post. I had a similar conversation (with myself) the other day. I agree with you about the ability of a smaller vessel creating a more intense experience with your drink! I like glass, as well but I’m fairly clumsy so it doesn’t always work out that well

  2. Ryan Willbur says:

    After working in wholesale for a year, and constantly bouncing from customer to customer, I’ve relinquished most of my hate for paper cups. However, I loath plastic lids. I can handle the affect of the cup, but what those stupid plastic lids do absolutely ruins the coffee.

  3. Peter G says:

    Oh you had to bring democracy into it, didn’t you!

    Disposable dishware doesn’t make food democratic, it makes it bad. This isn’t just about wine- how would you feel if you were in a restaurant, and everyone was eating their soup from paper bins with plastic spoons? You’d think you were in a shelter or something. Nobody wants to eat soup out on the blustery streets of Chicago, at least not with any regularity. That’s because we all know that eating food on the sidewalk kinds of ruins it, except when it’s a rare treat. And it’s like that with coffee, too. A paper cup of coffee while walking on the sidewalk a few times a year is a treat and an indulgence. Every day, it’s a compulsive, neurotic behavior which disrespects both the beverage and the drinker.

    Paper cups have become the norm, not the exception, and that’s the problem.

    I believe that the 8 ounce coffee cup and saucer, at a table or bar, is the perfect way to enjoy coffee. I can rarely find that anywhere!

    pg

  4. JMLee says:

    Will there be a day when wine in a paper cup becomes a norm? I hope not. I think the worst is when someone ask for an espresso in a takeaway cup?! Such request will only result in an apologetic decline. Sorry, no democracy when it comes to this.

  5. zxva says:

    I love the coffee cups with a a bit narrower base and then it widens at the top. And a bit rustic look on them then it´s awesome. Depends on what coffee drink you have.

  6. Mmm… I’m a fan of glass, as well. Especially for non-pressurized drinks, when they get that beautiful reddish tint. A nice handmade mug is lovely, too. Something with weight and texture.

    While I don’t think take-away cups add to the experience of a coffee, they do have their merits. In cafes where coffee is only served take-away, the baristi are able to fully concentrate on coffee, rather than having to muck around with clearing tables and doing dishes. I like that idea.

    I wrote a rather trivial post on why take-away cups are a bad idea – http://supersolenoidblog.tumblr.com/post/13915599732/top-5-reasons-you-should-stop-getting-take-away-coffees … but secretly if I had my own cafe, I might be tempted to only serve take-aways, and just skip the lids and over-filling.

    I guess I’m waiting for the day when they make take-away cups that are made in sizes that match the actual size of porcelain cups.

  7. Lee says:

    There are some cups for fine ground coffee, hot water, and also 2 filter to pour over brewer.
    Better drip coffee :-)

  8. I’m a big fan of coffee in a tall glass. Is that… weird?

  9. Coffee Lover says:

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  10. Scott Wilcox says:

    Here’s something to Rev up your day! Here’s a real bad video of a Really good song I’ve written, called A Cup of Coffee! ~ Songwriter Scott Wilcox

  11. Rakeem jackson says:

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  12. If you feel stress yourself after spending lots of time with work and if you want to release your stress, then I think you need a cup of coffee.

  13. Coffee Beans says:

    Here is another vote for coffee in a glass, preferably clear so I can admire as it is consumed. Paper would be my last choice and coffee mugs are for decoration and not for drinking. Cheers and raise your glass of ……coffee!

  14. fournines says:

    Mugs are for coffee, not glasses. Sorry

  15. Finding a good coffee cup is so hard. Ideally getting one that is about half the size of a soup cup would be ideal but about 2 x bigger than a standard cup.

  16. Darren Levy says:

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  17. Darren Levy says:

    but for me, personally drinking coffee vessel should fit your hand while not obstructing the smooth flow of coffee into your mouth. Should be one were the heat does not burn your hand so that you can concentrate on enjoying the coffee. Lastly, it should be able to keep the heat so that the coffee starts hotter longer as i know most of us DON’T LIKE COLD COFFEE!!!

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