That’s what I was drinking Tuesday morning when I wrote this column.
The Sunday before that, it was Tiramisu.
Sometime before that it was Buttery Caramel, Cinnamon Nut, Hazelnut and various concoctions when I am in the mood to combine various flavors.
In case you are unsure, I’m talkin’ coffee.
A cup of Joe. Java. Jamoke.
I’m not sure about jamoke, mud or murk, but one explanation for the origin of “a cup of Joe” is that it is from an old song by Stephen Collins Foster, although the lyrics supposedly don’t mention the brew at all. Confusing. Another is the word “Joe” is a combo name made up of java and mocha. A third is about the captain of a ship only allowing its sailors to drink coffee, no alcohol. I found a few other explanations involving both Mark Twain and the TV show “Bonanza” that I readily dismissed. I think some people just drank too much coffee and started to make stuff up because of excessive caffeine consumption.
But I’ve wandered far afield.
You see, I actually am wantin’ to write about coffee MUGS.
Although, if you haven’t guessed, I love coffee — in a mug or otherwise.
I really love flavored coffee, in case that also wasn’t obvious.
But I also love coffee mugs. Actually, add to that tea cups and saucers, too.
But not the plain, ole, ordinary kind. I like the ones in shapes and fancy colors, like the one I just found at a local thrift store. The cup is in the shape of a pink rose, with bright green petals adorning the sides. And the saucer also is pink and shaped like a flattened rose. Now that’s the kind of mug or cup I’m talkin’ about. These mugs take more forethought, more effort, more work and more skill than just putting a decal of a cute puppy on the side of a plain, white mug, wouldn’t you say?
I remember mentioning my fondness of such things to my cousin Diana, who apparently had a jump on me, because she had already been collecting fancy, schmancy cup and mug “ware” for quite some time.
Sooooo, don’t exactly know if this is just a family genetic thing or if there are others out there like us.
I’m leaning toward the side where there are others out there.
Well, because when I Googled coffee mugs, I found listings for “the history of coffee mugs.”
Oh, my, gosh!
There’s an actual documented “history” of coffee mugs?
How could that be?
Unless others like me and my cousin also found these vessels greater than just simple containers.
Here’s what I found out.
It would be “logical” to think that coffee came before the mug, but someone actually made the first drinking mugs way before coffee was ever invented. Archaeologists supposedly found mugs carved from bones dating to the Stone Age, but they didn’t have handles and therefore are not “technically” mugs. Mugs are generally, well, considered to be mugs rather than cups because they are larger and sturdier.
The first “official” mugs were made in the Neolithic Stone Age, but similar pottery also was found in China and Japan around 10,000 B.C. A decorated clay mug from 4,000-5,000 B.C. was discovered in Greece.
I even discovered that metal mugs were made from bronze, silver, gold and even lead, around 2000 BC, but were kinda difficult to use with hot drinks. Heat conduction and all.
The first coffee shop appeared in 1475 in Constantinople, and the first “coffee” mugs then serving the brew were made out of wood.
That couldn’t have tasted very good.
Porcelain was a major breakthrough in the production of mugs in China around 600 AD because it could be used for both hot and cold drinks, which has largely remained unchanged until most recently.
Anyway, back in 1748, Britain banned coffee and all merchandise associated with it, including mugs. I couldn’t find a confirmation or a reason as to why. But, if true, this sitch also led to a shortage of mugs, raising the price of mugs on the black market.
Can you believe that? I’ve never heard of any of this before, no where, not in any class or cocktail hour.
But continuing ...
Nowadays, coffee mugs are made in a variety of sizes, patterns and designs. Mugs are also used for more than just containing and drinking liquid from, such as the perennial favorite pen holder or, my favorite usage, decorative tchatchkes (or tshatshkes) — the Jewish/Yiddish word for knick-knacks, little toy, collectible or giftware — made to clutter up all the available shelf space in your home.
My research also discovered that the mug is big business, with many companies and fundraisers making and/or selling them. Also in my research, I’ve discovered that there exists a wide and varied selection of mugs. Hence, my desire to collect them.
There are technologically advanced mugs, like the ones that keep the coffee warm while in the car that came into vogue around the 1980s or so, which, in addition to insulation, also added a lid to keep the contents from spilling. There are mugs made of china, stoneware, glass, plastic and steel. There are a variety of designs and patterns, such as cartoon characters, an assortment of animals, two-toned mugs, morphing mugs (which change color when a hot liquid is poured into it), steins, flags, flowers, hearts, stars and others.
In other words, if you can think of it, there’s probably a mug around somewhere in that shape, design or color.
But wait, there’s more.
I couldn’t find any references as to when just plain mugs became more widely known as coffee mugs. What I did find out is that coffee is the world’s second most popular drink after water.
But I’m not sure that “water mug” is really all that catchy.
Just imagine what the future holds for mugs ... besides coffee, of course.