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A History of Coffee Mugs—Where did it all start?

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Coffee mugs are everywhere you look! And if you are anything like me, you probably have a whole cupboard in the kitchen full of these colorful cups. Whether they’re generic, store-bought mugs, or personalized coffee mugs, everyone probably has their fair share. But have you ever wondered where these vessels came from, and how they became so popular?

The first mugs are attributed to as early as the Neolithic Stone Age, because of pottery vessels that were originally found in China and Japan. These ancient cups date as far back as 10000 BCE! They were originally made from clay and formed by hand, but this job was later facilitated by the potter’s wheel, which was invented between 6,500 and 3,000 BCE. When forming these clay mugs, ancient potters added handles for easier grip. The only downfall to the original mug was the inability to make the walls thin enough for someone to be able to fit their mouth over them to drink.

Starting around 2000 BCE, metal mugs were produced using bronze, silver, gold, and sometimes, even lead. These metal cups allowed for thin walls to be used, suitable for the average mouth, but were difficult to use when drinking hot liquids. Around 600 CE, China invented porcelain mugs, with thin walls, which were perfect for hot or cold liquids. It is these porcelain mugs that we still enjoy today!

Ironically enough, most people refer to mugs as “coffee mugs”, but no one knows where that term started. We do know that coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. And coffee lovers are particular about their morning coffee mugs. Coffee cups differ in size from that of other mugs by being much bigger, anywhere from 11 to 22 ounces. They also have thicker walls to insulate the beverage, an extra rim on the bottom to reduce thermal contact, and a handle to keep hands and fingers away from the hot liquid. Modern coffee mugs are made out of products with a low thermal conductivity, such as earthenware, bone china, porcelain, or glass.

We hope you have enjoyed this little history lesson. And because of coffee mugs’ unfailing popularity, we think they are the perfect present! Personalized coffee mugs make a great wedding favor, promotional gift, or a simple, yet practical way to advertise. When searching online for the best options around, be sure to check out QuickShip Promotions. We have a wide selection of mugs and designs to choose from, or you can upload your own design! If you can dream it, we can create it! Let us help you add a new friend for your coffee cup collection!


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