Every morning, caffeine enthusiasts may see a coffee mug for the first time. According to the 2019 Statista Global Consumer Survey, 44% of American adults consumed two to three cups of coffee per day, with drip coffee being the most popular type. Additionally, the average TikTok morning routine video demonstrates that any perfect (or so-so) day begins with brewing coffee in a cup, whether using a French press or an heirloom coffee maker. Often, you’re not pouring your coffee into just any cup, but into your “favourite cup” — a souvenir, Christmas present, or vintage mug with sentimental value.
Coffee mugs have existed for far longer than many of us can imagine, and they have been an integral part of many generations of people’s coffee drinking rituals. They, too, have evolved over the decades, evolving into a contemporary accessory in the form of insulated travel mugs and Starbucks’ famous cups. Have you ever wondered how it all began?
According to Quality Logo Products, the first mugs were invented between 3900 and 1700 BC, but they were not used for coffee. Because coffee was not discovered until the 9th century in Ethiopia, these mugs carved from wood or even animal skulls were used for water, spirits, or wine, according to The Spruce Eats. By 3000 BC, as metalwork increased, metal cups appeared, and mugs were made of gold, silver, bronze, or lead (but this last one, of course, was a harmful material to drink from). As time passed, each era’s advancements aided in the development of mugs: The Middle Ages brought a variety of designs, followed by the Industrial Revolution’s widespread distribution of cups.
However, it was not until the 1940s, when diners, smoothies, and massive hamburgers became popular in America, that people began using the iconic coffee mugs we know today. According to Exploring Upstate, it was all due to the work of the Victor Insulator Company around 1945. The company created a sturdy white coffee cup with sturdy handles and porcelain interiors that kept beverages hot. Soon afterwards, diners popularised these mugs, transforming them into the iconic symbol of the modern breakfast experience. Now, coffee drinkers in the twenty-first century can choose from a variety of mug shapes and designs, ranging from the classic diner mug to the dainty Illy cappuccino cups. We are fortunate!