A Saucer of Coffee?

Do you know the purpose of the small plate that coffee cups are often served upon in cafes?

This is the saucer, and it has many purposes. The saucer dissipates heat from the coffee cup, protecting the tabletop. It catches any spilled hot beverage. It also serves as a convenient way to carry stirring spoons, sweetener and creamer. It might even help create the perfect aesthetic for an Instagram photo.

But at one time it did even more!

In the 18th century, saucers were more like shallow bowls, with raised sides. Coffee drinkers of the time poured the beverage from their cup into the saucer and drank it from there. The coffee would cool faster with the wider surface area, and the coffee in the cup would remain warm for when the coffee drinker was ready to pour more. This trend only lasted until the end of the 18th century, when drinking from saucers became no longer considered polite.

A Man and Woman Are Drinking Coffee Or Tea In The Garden Jan Broedelet 1690 – 1700
The Masked Coffee Drinker Giovanni David 1775
Le café Aimé de Lemud 1840

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