- Food and Cooking
The Best Coffee Mugs Ever
And Glasses, and Cups...you Get the Idea
Coffee is big. There's no doubt about it. In the USA and Canada, Starbucks sell around 10,465,000 cups of coffee and related beverages every day. Yep - over 10 million each day.
People love grabbing a coffee to go. Coffee houses are a great place to meet up with friends or just a little oasis of calm when you're out shopping. And a welcome shot of caffeine to keep you going.
With the huge rise of interest in drinking coffee, mug manufacturers are getting more creative. Mugs, cups and glasses make great gifts - especially if you can choose a style that 'fits' the person you're giving them to.
We're going to take a look at what's available. You'll never be stuck for an affordable, personalized gift - and why not treat yourself while you're at it!
Travel Coffee Mugs
If you're a 'to go' kinda person, you've probably suffered a coffee accident...
...we've all had them. The coffee starts to leak under the lid and drips onto your coat / jacket / white shirt that you're wearing for the interview in half an hour - yikes! Or the cardboard part is too thin and burns your hand.
My car is so old that it doesn't have a proper coffee holder, so I have to wedge the 'mug' into a square shaped hole behind my hand brake. Now, round mugs into square holes do not go. I discovered this when I tried to pick up the mug and managed to dislodge the lid in the process. Cue a burnt hand, coffee all over me and worst of all, hardly any coffee left to drink. Disaster!
Why not treat yourself (or another 'to go' person) to one of these. Just decant your 'to go' coffee into it and you really are good to go!
...and it's safe in the microwave and dishwasher too. What's not to like?
Thermos 16-Ounce Stainless Steel Backpack Bottle, Silver
Amazon reviewers love this. At the time of writing 756 people have given it 4.6 out of five stars. What's impressive is that so many people took the time to rate it! If you go for one of these, don't put it into the dishwasher It's hand wash only.
The Contigo Autoseal (below) is
available in six yummy colours and you can choose a 16 ounce or 20 ounce. The makers claim that their special AutoSeal lid makes it 100 per cent spill proof and leak proof.
Copco Sierra 24 Ounce Cold Tumbler
If you prefer cold drinks, take a look at the tumbler below. There are four colours available for the hand grip. The makers say that you can wash it in the top rack of your dishwasher but hand washing will give it a longer life.
Don't like the metallic or rubbery taste that some travel mugs impart?
Neither do I. The CorningWare mug (shown below) could be the travel mug for you. It's made from stoneware so it's just like drinking from a 'proper' mug. It's also multifunctional as it's safe in the freezer, microwave, refrigerator and oven.
So you could freeze a portion of chilli in it and then microwave it at work for lunch...is anyone that organised? I wish I was...
Italians say that a perfect espresso should be served in a hot porcelain cup.
Don't ever drink it out of a plastic cup because the plastic spoils the wonderful smell of the coffee - which is one of the most enjoyable parts of a really good, hot, strong espresso.
If you're going to Italy on holiday, you will find that they always serve a glass of water with an espresso. Don't make the rookie mistake of drinking the water after the coffee. This will be interpreted by your Italian waiter (or host) that you don't like the coffee and it can cause great offence!
A real espresso is always served without milk, which you probably knew. But did you know that it's also traditionally served without sugar? It's often seen being served with a small biscuit but Italians serve it with a chocolate. The combination is heavenly and makes up for the lack of sugar in the espresso.
Konitz Coffee Bar Espresso 2-Ounce Cups and Saucers
A lovely (and very affordable) set of four 2 ounce espresso cups and saucers in classic white - and they're safe in the microwave and dishwasher. Give them a quick blast in the microwave to heat them up before you put the espresso in, for real Italian authenticity.
If you prefer coloured cups...
...this Le Creuset Stoneware Set might be just what you're looking for. A lovely blue and dishwasher safe.
Espresso Cups don't have to be white...
An affordable set of espresso cups in funky colours. One Amazon reviewer reported that they were the perfect size for her toddler grandson to drink his tea from. How cool is that? Espresso cups for little hands! Multipurpose :)
These really do look Italian
2 oz cups with authentically thick walls. The classic Italian 'pear shape' gives more surface area for the crema. What's the crema? Find out below...
Crema (Italian for cream) isn't cream - it's the froth on top of your espresso. This is how it's made.
When coffee beans are roasted, carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced. Most of it evaporates as the heated beans cool. But some is left behind in the cells of the beans. When they're ground, the carbon dioxide is released from the cells. This is why you need to roast your beans and then grind them straight away to avoid too much CO2 being lost.
When you add hot water to the coffee grounds, it immediately becomes saturated with CO2. This is what causes tiny bubbles to appear. But it's not the bubbles that make the crema.
For a great foamy crema, you need something to coat each individual bubble to make it strong and hold its' bubble shape. That something is called melanoidin. Water repels melanoidin so the melanoidin clings to the nearest air source...yes, the bubbles!
Melanoidin is ruined by oil. So if you get a particularly oily batch of coffee beans, your crema won't be as long lasting.
Coffee officianados can tell a lot about an espresso simply from the crema. I'm just happy to know that it looks pretty and tastes great.
Cappuccino cups - and why cappuccino is called cappuccino
Do you know why cappuccino is called cappuccino?
I didn't either, until I researched it - so that you can drop it effortlessly into conversation and impress everyone.
Franciscan monks follow the teachings of St Francis of Assissi. The main group is the Order of Friars Minor. This group subdivides into three more groups, one of which is called the Capuchins.
The monks in this order wear hooded brown robes. Cappuccio means 'hood' in Italian.
The monks became known as cappuccini. Cappuccino coffee took its' name from the shade of brown of the monks' habits.
Now you have something really interesting to tell everyone next time you meet them in Starbucks!
This affordable set with a handy space-saving stand is a great way to bring a little cafe style into your kitchen.
A fun set of cups that will bring a little colour into your kitchen. Comes with a space-saving stand.
If you prefer your cappuccino in a glass cup, check out this lovely set of four - made in Italy.
I've trawled the internet on your behalf, trying to find out why latte is often served in tall glasses. The coffee geek forums all address this issue but don't come up with a difinitive answer. The best that I can offer is that it shows off the foamy top better...
Bodrum Glass Mugs
These are a little pricey but you really get what you pay for. The double wall of the glass keeps your latte (or any other beverage) hotter for longer. Dishwasher and microwave safe - but handwashing will extend their life span.
Luigi Bormioli glasses
These elegant Luigi Bormioli glasses are double walled which means that your latte will stay hot for longer - but the outside stays cool so you can hold it easily. Made in Italy too.
Ozeri Serafino Glasses
These lovely glasses are also double walled but with a different shape which looks attractive once the glass is filled.
If you prefer your latte in a mug, these Seattle Jumbos could be what you're looking for. The set of four is well priced and available in black, white or cobalt blue. And safe in the dishwasher and microwave.
These cheerful cups can be mixed and matched with other Waechtersbach earthenware. No wonder they call them 'fun factory'. And dishwasher safe too.
Coffee Break Poll
Which coffee do you prefer?
May the froth be with you...
Now it's time to look at some of the fun mugs that are available. You may be surprised!
Gift mugs for a baseball fan
Personalized mugs on eBay - The gift that shows you care
This is a great way to make sure that your gift is unique. Personalization is great. It shows that you have thought about the recipient and also had to plan ahead. No last minute, innapropriate present for you!
1. The two main varieties of coffee grown in the world are Arabica and Robusta.
2. The coffee bean is actually the seed of a fruit.
3. Make sure that you use freshly drawn water for your coffee - not what's already in the kettle. You'll get a much better flavour. (This also applies to tea).
4. Coffee doesn't react well when exposed to oxygen so make sure that your coffee beans are in airtight packaging and use them as quickly as possible. Luckily, this is not difficult!
5. Folk talk about getting a caffeine withdrawal headache. But did you know that caffeine can help you to get rid of a headache? And no, it's not because you're stopping the withdrawal. Caffeine can help to constrict the blood vessels in your brain - easing a headache caused by vessel dilation. Check out the ingredients in off-the-shelf headache tablets - caffeine is almost always one of the ingredients.