Did People Really Used To Drink Coffee off Plates? (Yep)

Did People Really Used To Drink Coffee off Plates? (Yep)

Jake Bonneman Jake Bonneman
3 minutes of coffee drinking

You may have heard at some point that in the past, we used to drink coffee and tea out of (or off of) saucers instead of drinking out of cups.

I'm positive I've heard this "fun fact" several times. I just believed it because it sounded like something we'd do.

But I mean, it does also sound kind of ridiculous.

Especially... since the saucer was invented after the cup.

As this StackExchange user says, in the least obnoxious wording I've ever seen from a StackExchange user:

"This seems laughably silly by modern standards - enough so to make me question its veracity."

Is the saucer story true? Did we actually do this?

The short answer is: yes.

But why?

Well to explain why, we need a little bit of something I know you'll be excited about.

Yep—a little bit of saucer history.

A Brief History of the Saucer (1700 - ????)

The saucer was introduced to the coffee accessory market in the early 1700s, in England of all places.

Why? The saucer allowed tea to cool more quickly than if it were drunk from a bowl.

Yes, they drank tea out of a bowl at the time. A "tea bowl." Yep.

I mean it was basically just a tea cup without a handle—or 2 handles as they had when cup handle technology was first invented.

Besides the cooling thing, the saucer also caught any drips from the cup, which prevented accidental staining of clothing, table cloths, tea towels, chimney sweep uniforms, and the rags of precocious (but endearing) street urchins.

But it wasn't just in England that people drank out of saucers. Pouring coffee into a saucer to sip it is an old Swedish tradition as well.

With the Brits and the Swedes treading the razor's edge of coffee cooling technology, the saucer's popularity spread throughout the bustling global coffee accessory market.

I mean, there were no Bluetooth-enabled kettles or smart Keurig cup trees yet. So people had to make do with what was available.

And do they made.

For a while, that is.

The Decline of Drinking Searing Hot Coffee From a Plate

Unfortunately, the saucer fell out of favor in the early 1900s. Coffee cups with handles became more popular. Plus, people realized they were actually fine with sipping their coffee 15% more slowly to avoid having to balance a sloshing, boiling hot liquid and slurp it off of a plate in public.

I mean, yes, obviously I get being super excited to drink your hot coffee and all, but, that's okay. It's already in a cup. A coffee cup. I'm good.

I'll just drink it 60 seconds from now—even if it's just to avoid having to wash a plate.

By the middle of the 20th century, the once famous saucer was mostly forgotten, washed up, and put away for good.\

Who Killed the Saucer?

Some say that the saucer was assassinated by a group known as The Millennials—the same twisted murderers responsible for the death of the napkin, the napkin holder, the napkin ring, and irony. Not to mention the death of Smoochy.

Others speculate that like the anvil and the giant red horseshoe magnet, the saucer was forgotten a few months after the final Tom & Jerry short was shown in movie theaters.

But that's neither here, nor there. Nor anywhere else, really.

Sorry I even brought it up.

The point is: Yes, people used to drink coffee off of saucers. And now you know why.

You're welcome.

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