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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Qualities of a good Ceramic Coffee Mug

I am a ceramist and one of my products is Coffee Mugs.   I consider the coffee mug a bread and butter item in my inventory.    The question I am asked by my students and my buyers is "How do we evaluate a coffee mug to determine if it has the qualities that will give the user a pleasant experience when they use it?" 

Here are a few points that I consider when I pick up a handmade coffee mug.

 A quality mug requires a dependable glaze and a pleasing design. Some people prefer a coating that is fat, and matt, others search for a glazes that are glass and glossy. The design should be complete in its simplicity. The glaze should be provocative but soothing to counter-balance the caffeine effect. Some coffee drinkers prefer a finish that does not craze. Others enjoy the roadway patterns made by crazed glazes stained brown by years of coffee drinking.

A hand crafted ceramic mug should be visually attractive to look at. It should have a clear and charming figure with some throwing rings visible. Texture should be such as to incite the desire to caress the mug. The shape should not be too bulbous or collared so that it allows the delicious liquid to flow smoothly. It should have a comfortable area to cradle, or better yet so as to nuzzle the mug with the free hand. The form should not require the user to tilt the head way back to finish off the last drop of dark nectar.
The thermal qualities of the clay used and the thickness of the walls of the mug should be such to ensure that the mellow liquid held within stays hot as long as possible. The mug must have a balanced weight, not too heavy to tire carrying it nor too light so as to spill coffee when waving it around during a conversation.

The base should be smooth so that it will not scratch or mar the furniture or make a grating sound when served on a saucer.

The mug should be stackable. Once we begin to collect them, we will find that storage space becomes critical.

The colour of the mug should please the owner. Some prefer light, white interiors for hygienic reasons while others prefer dark colours on the inside as this gives the appearance of a richer browner coffee. .

Lastly, a mug should be an old friend, much like an old pair of slippers, or an old dog. It must also be joyous like a piece of candy. It must stimulate the owner whenever he reaches to select it. It must be a mug forever. Also, remember that respectable coffee demands that it be served in a delightful coffee mug.
Some of these mugs can be seen on:


  1. Really great work! I just added this to my favs:


  2. Great critique! Your mug looks very coffee-friendly and comfortable...but I love my Fire-King mug and always go back to it (for all the reasons you list).

  3. Brilliant! Glad I found this one. Look forward to following. Such beautiful work and you're a great writer too!

  4. very lovely - wish i didn't have a zillion mugs --- so pretty.

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  6. this is nice post on mugs. really amazing post. i like this one so much.