Saucer Sippers; Do You Know One?

We were on a short driving trip recently and I was sipping on a travel mug of coffee I had brewed earlier in my Keurig single-cup brewing machine. I don’t know how many methods of brewing coffee I’ve bought into over the years but Keurig is my current choice. I love the quality and variety of the coffee and having to brew just one cup at a time.

When I took the last swig I remarked to my wife how I, “was going to miss that cup of coffee.” Every mug of coffee is not created equal. It may have something to do with variations in the coffee blends, stage of the tides, or phase of the moon. I suspect, though, it has more to do with the day to day status of one’s taste buds. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

I don’t like coffee when if it’s too hot and usually allow it to sit several minutes before taking the first sip. Once it has cooled a few degrees I’m good to go all the way down to room temperature. I’m fine with room temperature but don’t care much for iced coffee. Just doesn’t seem Kosher to put ice in coffee but ice in tea is perfectly fine.

I’ve owned Bunn machines, a number of Mr. Coffee makers and similar machines by other manufacturers, one other single-cup type maker, a French coffee press, and one of those small home espresso machines. My great Aunt Allen, however, just brewed her java with a simple stove pot peculator she picked up at the hardware store and used for years.

She and Uncle Joe began each day with their morning coffee and I remember her taking a coffee break in the afternoon. Coffee made atop a gas kitchen stove was always much hotter than what an electric maker could produce. For many people it was simply too hot to drink without some cooling down. That’s why both my aunt and uncle were saucer sippers.

Saucer sipping was the juggling act of holding the cup in one hand, gently pouring a little coffee into the saucer, allowing it to cool a bit on the larger surface area, and then sipping the coffee directly from the saucer. You’d repeat the process until it was either all gone or had cooled enough to drink directly from the cup.

Truth be told, my aunt and uncle weren’t saucer sippers. They would best be described as saucer slurpers. They would loudly slurp the coffee into their mouths which I imagine had something to do with further cooling the liquid. But I’m going to claim they knew slurping, much as in the style of a connoisseur of fine wine, dispensed the flavor bearing elements over a wider area of the palate thus producing a fuller sense of satisfaction. That sounds better than saying they simply lacked couth.

I don’t remember ever seeing anyone else drink coffee this way but when I once mentioned it to my wife she knew of the technique. I checked on the Internet and sure enough, many others know someone who once drank coffee from the saucer and apparently it was common among Swedish people and thus Swedish immigrants to America. My aunt, however, wasn’t from Sweden unless that’s what South Carolina was once known as.

It seems to have been a practice of rural rather than urban people and generally more common to working folks than gentry. Whatever its origins and background, one thing is certain, people today are more likely seen drinking coffee from a thermal travel mug or a biodegradable to-go cup bearing a fancy logo than from a saucer. Slurping, however, hasn’t gone out of style!

5 thoughts on “Saucer Sippers; Do You Know One?”

  1. My Grandpa Turner was a saucer sipper. When I got old enough to notice I asked my mother why he poured his coffee in his saucer. I don’t remember her telling me why but I do remember her telling me it wasn’t proper. I guess she didn’t want us to imitate his habit and embarrass ourselves in “polite” company. When, as kids will do, my sister and I called our Grandpa on it he just laughed indulgently and poured his coffee back into his cup, after it cooled of course! When I think about it now, I remember the warm kitchen, the flowered china, and this habit which was just one of the things that made him my Grandpa…

  2. my grandpa used to pour coffee in a saucer with a saltine cracker and call it breakfast some mornings. wonder if that has similar origins in Norway? will check that out.

    my 12 year old bunn finally bit the big one. really only had one repair to it a year ago. i mourned its passing, but, wasn’t anxious to replace it for $90+ bucks. found (6) gevalia coffee makers at the thrift store in nearly new condition. bought one to hold me over till i got over my grief. that thing brews the best coffee i have EVER had. EVER. $6.19!! only wish i’d bought the other 5.

  3. I don’t have a juicy comment today, but I do have some questions on the topic, as follows:

    Do you use the single-serve coffee packets that come with the Keurig coffee maker or are otherwise sold where the coffeemakers are sold? if so, are any of them good? i.e., do you recommend any of them?

    Also, are the Keurig packets readily available at local supermarkets or grocery stores?

    Are Keurig packets interchangeable with any other aftermarket brands of similar coffeemakers?

    Do you have the additonal single-serve refill cup-thingy that lets you put your own blend of coffee into the Keurig machine? if so, does it work well?

    Have you heard of any Keurig-like machines that supposedly work well, as well?

    (Perhaps, I should’ve posted these questions on Facebook, where – perhaps – they’d feel more at home.)

    1. Stacey,
      I have been using a Keurig machine for about three years. I actually have two of them, one for the home and a more portable version I take on trips with me. The cups are available in many stores and especially in Wal-Mart, Sams, and Lowe’s. They’re everywhere online. They only work with the Keurig machines. Keurig makes a My-Cup device that allows you to use whatever ground coffee you wish and they work very well. Right now I’m using prefilled cups but when my current supply is gone I have some ground coffee my brother in law roast and I’ll start using that.

      Prior to Keurig I tried a a couple of cheaper machines that used “pods” but I didn’t care for the quality of the brew.

      Given your migratory lifestyle I doubt you’d want to be lugging a Keurig machine around. You might look into Starbuck’s VIA instant packets. For instant they are pretty good and a hell of a lot lighter than a Keurig or Mr. Coffee!!! 🙂

  4. I remember my Aunt Eddie doing that every morning, she was from Ky. Big breakfast every morning type of person, and coffee in a cup sitting in a saucer, then try to pour and then sip.

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