by Ellen Blake
What’s the best coffee cup for you? There are a lot of considerations.
I love a good cup of coffee. Really love it. I drink it all day long, sometimes with caffeine and sometimes without, as I don’t drink it just for the energy boost. The taste, smell, and comfort this beverage provides on a daily basis make it easier for me to get through the day. As I work from home, stopping to make and drink a cup of brew allows for a welcome break every few hours.
A great cup of coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures. When we sip coffee, the way our brain combines a variety of stimuli into an entire experience determines how we perceive its flavor. It’s not just our taste buds at work here. The other senses – Vision, aroma, taste, and tactile – are all included.
How many cups of coffee do you drink every day? The average U.S. coffee drinker consumes between two and three cups, but I generally drink more like an average of four cups a day. How much time do you spend thinking about the cup you drink from? To what extent can you elevate these experiences by carefully choosing your coffee cup?
Does the Cup You Choose to Drink Coffee Matter?
The choice of cup absolutely matters for coffee. At least for me, it’s an important factor. It matters a lot. Think about how the characteristics of your coffee cup can impact your experience.
The material of the cup can affect the taste and temperature of your coffee. Porcelain and ceramic coffee cups are often preferred because they don’t impart any unwanted flavors to the coffee. Glass cups are also a good choice as they allow you to see the coffee and appreciate its color. I recommend you avoid using plastic cups, as they can sometimes retain odors and flavors from previous use.
Size and Shape
The size and shape of the cup can influence the aroma and taste of the coffee. A narrower, taller cup helps concentrate the coffee’s aroma, making it more aromatic when you take a sip. A wider, shallow cup may allow the coffee to cool faster, which can be preferable if you want to drink it quickly without waiting for it to cool down. My preference? I like a tall cup.
Double-walled or insulated cups can help keep your coffee hot for a longer period, which can be important if you like to savor your coffee slowly. They also prevent the outside of the cup from becoming too hot to handle. I use double-walled or insulated cups when I need to take my coffee to go, but they are not my first choice.
The appearance of the cup can enhance your overall coffee-drinking experience. Many people prefer cups that they find visually appealing, as they can contribute to the enjoyment of the beverage. I like a beautiful mug, preferably handmade.
Additionally, some people believe that the color of the cup can influence the taste of the coffee. For example, white cups are often used in coffee competitions to ensure that the judges are not influenced by the coffee’s color. However, this effect is largely psychological and varies from person to person.
Handle vs. No Handle
I like cups with well-shaped handles for ease of holding, especially if the coffee is very hot. Others prefer cups with no handle for aesthetic or tactile reasons.
Ultimately, the choice of cup is a matter of personal preference. What’s most important is that you enjoy your coffee in the way that suits you best. If you’re a coffee enthusiast, experimenting with different cups and paying attention to how they affect your coffee experience can be a fun way to discover what works best for you.
What About the Color of Your Coffee Mug?
Research shows color has a big impact on how people perceive the taste and flavor of the coffee. It influences the overall visual appeal of your coffee experience. Some people have personal preferences for colors that make them feel more relaxed or happy while enjoying their coffee. For example, as touched upon above, coffee served in a white cup is thought to have a more intense flavor than coffee drunk from a transparent mug. Brown is thought to be associated with bitterness, and so when a white cup is used, the “brownness” of the coffee is increased or at least more visible against the white background. Dark-colored cups can absorb more heat from the coffee, making it appear hotter, while lighter-colored cups can make the coffee seem cooler. One’s perception of temperature can impact the enjoyment of the coffee.
Some people think the color of the cup can influence the overall taste of the coffee. In fact, participants in coffee competitions often use white cups to ensure that the judges are not influenced by the coffee’s color. We know, however, that this effect is primarily psychological and varies from person to person.
Why Do We Become Emotionally Attached to Our Favorite Coffee Mugs?
According to a survey by the Heinz company, nearly 60% of people said they had an emotional attachment to a favorite mug. Approximately 40% said their special mug was “irreplaceable”. And many said it would devastate them if their favorite vessel broke. Those are some pretty strong emotions.
Why are so many of us irrationally attached to our favorite mugs? My Dad drinks his coffee from one mug only, despite the many choices in his cabinet. It is small, chipped, and has a barely recognizable map of Pittsburgh on it. Yet it has a place of honor in one of the cabinets with a clear glass window. I’m guessing since he grew up in Pittsburgh, that he loves this coffee cup because it conjures up happy thoughts of his childhood. My sister, when visiting Dad, says she likes a pretty mug her son bought as a gift for his grandmother a few years before she passed. When pressed for her reason why she prefers to drink coffee only from this mug when at the house, she said there are two primary reasons. First, it is a good size, not too big or too small. More importantly, she said the memory of how happy Mom was when presented with this gift from her son is a joyous one. A friend told me her favorite coffee mug is one that says, “Grandma isn’t my first name, but it’s my favorite”. This joyful quote makes her smile every single day when she takes her first sip.
Personally, I’m partial to a thick hand-made ceramic navy-blue mug purchased from an artist in Asheville, North Carolina during a lovely fall weekend trip. The memory of that trip brings up warm, fuzzy feelings for me. I like the way my coffee tastes in this cup, but more than that, I love to drink from something made by hand; it makes me feel like I am engaged in a conversation with the artist.
Mugs also earn our affection because they contain hot beverages. Research shows that just wrapping your hands around a warm mug often conjures up warm feelings toward others. When you pair that with the enticing flavors and aromas of coffee, you get a richly rewarding experience. Our favorite coffee cup is generally part of our routine; familiar and comfortable. It seems our fondness for our favorite mugs far surpasses any objective worth.
Choosing the Best Coffee Cup for You
The choice of coffee cup plays a definite role in how we perceive and enjoy the taste of our coffee. The mug we use affects the taste of our coffee because its shape and material can influence the temperature, aroma, and overall sensory experience. The cup’s design can either enhance or detract from these factors, impacting our perception of the coffee’s flavor. Additionally, the cup’s color can influence our perception of temperature, making the coffee seem hotter or cooler than it actually is. Finally, our cup can hold a significant meaning for us, providing a memory or a quote we would like to see every day.
What About Travel Coffee Mugs?
Are you someone who likes to take coffee with you on the road? Choosing the best travel coffee mug involves considering several factors to ensure it meets your specific needs and preferences. Consider these factors to help you make the right choice.
How much coffee do you typically drink during your travels? Travel mugs come in various sizes, so choose one that suits your preferred coffee volume.
Look for a travel mug with good insulation properties. Double-walled or vacuum-insulated mugs keep your coffee hot (or cold) for longer periods.
Travel mugs are generally stainless steel or plastic. What you opt to use is really based on personal preference. Below are some things to think about.
Stainless Steel Mugs
Stainless steel travel mugs are durable, resistant to corrosion, and excellent at retaining heat. They are also easy to clean. However, some people, including me, find coffee from a stainless-steel vessel tastes different. Stainless steel is porous, which means past coffee drinks or anything else you’ve had in that cup, including the dish soap, may impart unwanted flavors into your current beverage.
Some plastic travel mugs are insulated and lightweight. Ensure they are BPA-free if you choose plastic.
Lid design is an important consideration too. Do you prefer a solid leak-proof lid or a simple flip-top for easy sipping without removing the lid? In addition, some lids have additional features like locking mechanisms to prevent spills during travel.
In addition, most people want travel mugs that are easy to clean with wide openings and that fit comfortably in the car’s cup holder. We also recommend you check reviews for information on how long the travel mug keeps beverages hot.
FAQs About Coffee Cups
Here are some commonly asked questions about why we use the coffee cups we do.
Why are coffee cups usually made of ceramic or porcelain?
Many people prefer ceramic and porcelain cups for coffee because they retain heat well, are durable, and don’t affect the taste of the coffee.
What’s the significance of the shape of coffee cups?
The shape can affect how the coffee’s aroma is released and how it feels in your hand. Wider cups allow for more aroma, while narrower cups retain heat better.
Are there health concerns with certain coffee cup materials?
Some materials like plastic can potentially leach chemicals into hot beverages, so many people prefer cups made from non-reactive materials like ceramic.
Do the colors of coffee cups matter?
The color can influence the perception of temperature. Dark-colored cups can make coffee seem hotter, while lighter colors can make it appear cooler. Also, some people prefer certain colors to others, and their personal preference affects which cup they are happiest using.
What’s the deal with insulated coffee cups?
Insulated cups, often made of stainless steel or double-walled materials, keep coffee hotter for longer by reducing heat loss through the walls of the cup.
Can the shape of a coffee cup affect the taste of the coffee?
Yes, the shape can influence the distribution of flavors and aromas. Some shapes enhance the coffee’s taste by directing aroma towards the nose as you sip.
Some Random Facts About Coffee
Coffee is a widely consumed and well-studied beverage, but there are still some lesser-known and interesting facts you may not know.
Coffee is a fruit.
Did you know beans are actually seeds found inside the red or purple fruit called coffee cherries? Coffee manufacturers generally discard the cherries during coffee production, but it’s possible to use them to make cascara, a tea-like beverage.
Coffee was discovered by goats.
According to legend, coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. He noticed that his goats became more energetic and lively after eating the berries from a certain tree, which turned out to be coffee.
Coffee is one of the world’s most traded commodities.
After oil, coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world. It is a vital source of income for millions of people in coffee-producing countries.
Coffee can be a natural deodorizer.
Coffee grounds can help absorb and eliminate odors in your refrigerator or other spaces. They are often used as a natural deodorizer.
Researchers set up the first webcam to monitor a coffee pot.
In 1991, researchers at the University of Cambridge set up the world’s first webcam to monitor the status of a coffee pot. It allowed people to check if there was coffee available without making a trip to the break room.