You may well think that the pursuit of the perfect coffee cup is frivolous at the least and stupid at the most (I think that phrase says what I want it to?). But nevertheless, I have been involved in a lifelong search for the magical vessel and will hopefully be holding it in my hand when they plant me in the ground (actually I’m going to be cremated, but image wise I can’t picture me holding a coffee cup as the flames consume me.) Before I examine memorable cups from in my past, here are 12 (yes 12) things I consider when determining if a certain cup is going to be special:
1). I want my coffee mug to make me stand out as one of the world’s most confident and knowledgeable of people (even if I am still in my 15-year-old bathrobe with the frayed collar, stained front, and torn pocket).
2). I never want my cup to slip from my hand and spill scalding liquid on my newspaper, computer keyboard, or private parts.
3). I do not want coffee to dribble down and stain the front of my new shirt (or for that matter my Whine-the-Pooh t-shirt).
4). I do not want my coffee to slosh about and spill when I am walking, driving, or falling down.
5). I want my coffee to stay warm as long as possible.
6). I need to have a cup that can occasionally accept a doughnut for dunking.
7). The cup must be dishwasher safe.
8). I want to feel that regardless of a life incredibly devoid of wealth, I have a special cup reserved for only the privileged few (the three things in life I will insist are the equal to what any millionaire can afford are an outstanding coffee cup, great coffee, and luxurious toilet paper).
9). The color, design, text, etc. on the outside of the cup is not important, but it is not unimportant.
11). The mug must not be too heavy or (yes you guessed it) too light.
12). Above all, the cup must feel good in my hand and when put to my lips.
If you think coming up with a dozen points was easy, think again.
After years of searching for that one perfect cup, I have still not found that special ceramic, pottery, glass, metal, or plastic tankard. But the search goes on as I leave a trail of cups that fell out of favor as the quest continues.
Here are some of the past contenders:
Pottery Trout Mug
Pro: Handle fits three fingers–grove on handle feels good under thumb–colors of green and brown complement each other nicely–fish motif (I especially like trout and this seems to be a stubby, fat trout) is appealing even it swims straight up–a handmade mug that was a gift too special to risk breaking. Love the cup’s lip decoration of drippings that look like coffee stains (I wonder if the artist did that on purpose?).
Con: Too big—real pottery is heavy
Pro: Handle fits four fingers (very rare—good feel and stability)–memories of vacation trip with family.
Con: Presidents look like Moe, Larry, Curly and Trump each with black eyes—very disturbing first thing in the morning.
Garage Sale Find
Pro: A real, hefty cup that will also fit four fingers in the handle–green colors are pleasant and acceptably muted and do not disturb my early morning fog.
Con: Takes two people to lift it.
Free Cup with Coffee
Good: Just feels right for those days when I feel puny or want to drink hot tea–besides, it was free–love loden green and gold and there is an official seal signifying approval from on high.
Poor: A little girly (no offence ladies, but our search is for a man-cup) and the handle only fits one finger comfortably–you always feel that the cup is about to fall out of your hand. Doughnuts can only be dunked if broken in half a task that requires a dexterity I do not possess before 10 a.m.
Trout Skin Mug
Pro: Beautiful design of a trout’s skin (you have to be a fly fisherman to truly appreciate this). These are the colors and markings of a rainbow trout.
Con: Finger grip is just plain weird and cup is awful big–works better as a pencil holder.
Gift Trout Mug
Pro: Will actually hold a liquid.
Con: Everything, but mostly having to hang on to the fishtail handle–no way I have the strength to hold this cup up before 10 a.m. without dropping it–stumpy, football of a fish is an outright insult to every rainbow trout I have ever known (seems like cup makers have very little knowledge of fish anatomy). I would not have bought this for myself, but have a friend who apparently never drinks coffee or anything else from a cup thought this was the ideal gift for a fisherman.
Pro: Clean, industrial, manly look and a strange handle that actually works well.
Con: I have had a lot of versions of this mug and they all leak around the cap–never fit in the cup holder in a vehicle–are often too tall to fit into coffee machine (Consideration #13, 14, and 15?).
Pro: Gives user that rustic feel of being camping.
Con: Makes me remember why camping sucked–terrible coffee in a metal cup too hot to touch until the coffee was cold (Consideration #16?).
Pro: Strangely, handle that fits only 1½ fingers has an excellent feel–cup is rather thick and hefty, not like most dainty ones of this size.
Con: Bought a long time ago when I was caught up in Starbuck’s fever and bought coffee, mugs, and anything else in the catalog when ordering–doesn’t hold that much coffee making it necessary to make two, three, or four trips to the coffee machine each morning—mug needs to hold just the right amount of coffee (Consideration #17?).
Pro: Camping cup that is insulated, lightweight, and has a top that doesn’t leak and keeps coffee warm–has a great feeling, three finger handle–sky blue is a non-threatening color in the AM. Not another trout cup.
Con: Still in testing process