I love coffee. I also have a soft spot for coffee mugs and have been collecting and accidentally breaking them for a number of years. This creates a steady turnover of coffee mugs. Each cup has a story. Being that I am rather sentimental about these types of things I decided to write a page to preserve the stories of these coffee mugs. I find it rather amusing that this page is more likely to survive the passage of time than coffee mugs I am writing about.
One thing I have to mention is that I have an unfortunate habit of inadvertently stealing coffee cups. I don’t consider it really stealing because the intent is not there. What happens is that I accidentally forget that the cup used in a restaurant is still in my hand when I leave. This happened so often that I started to bring my own coffee cup into the restaurant. Which means I have to be careful which coffee cup I bring in, I would hate to find myself guilty of stealing the same coffee mug twice.
The stolen cups.
Here is one that I acquired from one of my favorite breakfast places in Fort Collins. The Silver Grill Cafe in Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado serves an excellent home made breakfast. No microwaving frozen bags of potatoes, tossing in mixed bags of veggies, or such at this place. Everything is fresh and hand made. I recommend the Milo’s Heart Stopper omelet.
The cup is really solid and quite thick, which has both positive and negative aspects. Positive because once warmed up it holds heat well, negative because initially it sucks the heat right out of the coffee. It doesn’t hold much coffee, so it needs to be constantly refiled. I walked out of the cafe one morning after breakfast with my lovely wife on the way to taking her to work. I kept it in the car for more than a week, with the intent of returning the mug.
Next mug is more of a cup than a mug. It also proves that I am an international coffee cup thief, though still an inadvertent one. This one pushes the “accidental thief” to its limit. I was teaching a class on electrical safety in Olehaven Denmark.
The conference room doubled as their cafeteria. Next to the presentation podium was a automated coffee mixing device that would make just about any coffee flavored concoction that you could think of if you spoke Danish. So through trial and error, mostly error, I tried most of the different mixes of coffee, milk, expresso, cream, chocolate, and vanilla that the machine had to offer. Anyway, when the training was complete I packed up my computer, books, papers, etc… and stood on the balcony and had a smoke with one of my students before heading out to Ringkobing. When the cup was empty there was no place to put the cup, and I needed both hands to open the door to the cafe so I put the cup in my jacket pocket. I ended up finding the cup in my pocket only after I checked into the Fjord Garden hotel in Ringkobing. Ringkobing and Olehaven are on opposite coasts and I wasn’t about to drive back to return one coffee cup.
Here is a coffee mug that is only around due to sentimental reasons. It just hangs around in my coffee mug display rack over the kitchen sink. The reason why I am attached to this particular mug is that it was given to me in Viborg Denmark during my first trip to Denmark to work in a Vestas Factory. The Viborg factory is now closed due to down sizing (right sizing?), but it reminds me of an interesting, entertaining, and educational experience. The factory floor was quite unlike anything I have experienced outside of the military. This is mainly because it had a lot in common with some of the shops I worked in while I was stationed overseas back in the 80s. They played radios at different work stations, had calendars with nudes hanging around the factory, and they consumed a lot of coffee during work. Strong thick coffee. But due to the fact that the production floor needed to be kept clean and orderly they banned all coffee cups that could break if dropped onto the concrete floor. So Vestas issued small stainless steel coffee mugs to all their employees.
I worked on the factory floor with about a dozen other Americans, they were there to learn the Vestas way of manufacturing so they could lead teams when the US factory was completed. I was there to understand the process so I could teach the new production workers how to use any specific tools, what to look for in regards to quality, and how to get along with the Danes. Anyway, we were using styrofoam coffee cups when we first arrived, it kind of distinguished us as new and inexperienced workers who have not been accepted into the fold. After about four weeks working in Viborg the Danes finally called all the Americans into a conference room and issued each of us a small stainless steel coffee mug, each one had a label with our “initials”. It felt good to be accepted. I took mine to Ringkobing a week later when I had to spend a week learning the Hub production line. They had the same coffee standard, when I joined my new colleagues during coffee and cake break I had instant credibility just by whipping out my coffee mug.
This coffee mug wasn’t stolen or even borrowed. I bought it from SparkFun.com. It is probably my favorite coffee mug, not because it is from SparkFun, but due to its shape. I have been drinking coffee for many, many, years and for me there are three attributes to good coffee. First, of course, it the taste. For me it has to be dark and a bit harsh. A good dark roast or expresso roast is best. Preferably from fresh ground beans. The next attribute is temperature, for me coffee is not to be gulped down like water, it is to be sipped and savored. So it has to be hot, not just warm, or really warm, but hot. Really hot. Serving at about 180 degrees out of the pot is just right. once it is down to 130 it is too cold to drink. Finally it has to be easy to hold and drink. This means that I can hold the cup without getting burned. This creates a special challenge when it comes to the thickness of the coffee mug. If a mug is too thick it soaks all the heat out of the coffee , too thin and you can’t hold the damn thing. Also if it is too thin it loses heat through convection to the outside air. And the general shape is important as well. Short fat coffee mugs tend to offer a lot of surface area exposing the coffee to the air. Once again losing heat. They are also difficult to sip with out spilling.
The SparkFun coffee mug has just about the perfect shape. It is taller than it is wide so there is less surface area of coffee exposed to the air. It is thick enough to keep my hands from getting burned, but thin enough not to suck up all the heat when first poured. It is a simple and elegant coffee mug that I probably use twice as often as my other mugs.
Plus it has the Geek-Factor of being from SparkFun, my favorite electronics web store. What makes it even more valuable for me is that for some reason SparkFun has discontinued selling this mug. That makes it both rare and functional.
My latest acquisition is from one of my other favorite web-store http://www.Unitednuclear.com
I placed an order for three 500ml Erlenmeyer flasks, glass tubing, silicone tubing, rubber stoppers, and such for a project I am working on. Hint: It has to do with Wiskey.
Anyway, they had this mug for sale and I couldn’t help myself. Now that we moved into our new home I no longer have a rack to hold my favorite coffee mugs. From my wife’s point of view I simply have too many. What, 24 mugs is too much? So I may be starting a coffee mug display in FUBR labs. More to come.