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The Evolution of Coffee Mugs

Hey, lower your coffee mug into your hands! Now, turn it around and take a good look at it. Did you know that coffee mugs go back a few millennia in history? From the ancient men from the stone age to the modern individual with their technologically advanced coffee mugs, we have come a very long way. Over the ages, mankind saw many different types of coffee cups and mugs which slowly paved the way to what we are currently familiar with.

  1. The Beginning

    The first instance of a drinking apparatus seems to have been invented in the Neolithic Stone Age in 10,000 BC in China and Japan. These ancestors of the modern mug were made of bone or wood and did not have a handle which made it difficult for the drinker to grasp it. 

    While there is no conclusive proof that these mugs were made for drinking coffee, they are still the first time drink ware occurred in the history of the human population.

  2. The Metal Age

    Soon the ancient man discovered metal and started using gold, bronze and lead to make their drinkware. The major downside with these versions of the coffee cup or mug was that the hot liquid inside it would heat up the mug and make it impossible for the drinker to hold it and consume the liquid. Lead mugs also posed a threat of lead poisoning.

  3. The Age of Ceramics

    Using ceramics in different types of coffee cups and mugs was the first step towards the modern versions. Ceramics were made from clay and then heated to a very high temperature and became the base for creating the first customized drinkware in the history of human civilization.

    With the discovery of the pottery wheel, clay mugs were made and then customized using fingers, thread and sticks to make distinctive patterns. In fact, some potter would add in signature designs to make their own creations stand out from the rest.

  4. The Puzzle Mugs

    Popular in 1700s Europe, these customized mugs were created with hidden holes inside the handles and cup walls. The trick with these mugs was to cover them in the correct places while drinking and often came with explicit instructions on how to use them! Imagine a coffee mug with a user manual – wouldn’t that be fun?

    These mugs were widely used in pubs and taverns and remained in use till the 19th century. They were entertaining for the customers and were often used as novelty items.

  5. Transfer Printing

    Customization took on its true form in the 1750s with the introduction of transfer printing. With the industrial revolution coming in, manufacturers started mass producing mugs and cups with custom prints which were then sold as individual pieces or sets. These were a more practical alternative to hand painting the mugs.

  6. Post-War Coffee Habits

    During World War II, the Victor Insulator Company came up with a series of mugs that were functional and suited for the travelling soldiers due to their tough, unbreakable material and anti-slip properties. After the war, these mugs became popular in diners around the country and often came with the logo of the establishment on them.

  7. The Branded Coffee Mug

    Founded in the 70s, several famous coffeeshop chains shot to popularity among the American population and soon started selling their signature long tumblers with their logo. If we look at the chronology of when did coffee mugs become popular, this would be the exact time. Their travel tumblers and ceramic mugs remain extremely popular even today!

  8. The High-Tech Mug

    The millennial generation is always on the go and a portable, temperature-controlled mug which looks extremely appealing is the next big thing in the world of coffee mugs. Pour in your coffee in one of these sleek and functional mugs and you are set for the day with your favourite beverage!

While we don’t know who invented the coffee mug as we know it today, hundreds of centuries have passed by between the original bone mug and today’s stylised, funky coffee mugs that we treasure. Now that we know all about the story of our mugs, drinking coffee would be an all-new adventure!