Did People Actually Drink Coffee Off the Saucer? Uncovering the Historical Tradition

Coffee has a rich history that spans centuries, and with it comes a myriad of fascinating traditions. One such practice that may raise eyebrows today is the act of drinking coffee directly from a saucer. It seems almost whimsical and odd, but did people actually engage in this unconventional method? In this article, we will delve into the historical origins of this practice and explore the reasons behind it.

The Saucer Drinking Tradition

In the 18th century, it was not uncommon for people to sip their coffee from a saucer. This practice was not limited to coffee; it was also common with tea. The saucer served as a vessel to cool the hot beverage, allowing people to sip without scalding their tongues. This method was particularly popular in Scandinavia and Russia, with Sweden even having a tradition called “dricka på bit,” or “drinking with a lump,” where a lump of sugar was placed between the front teeth while sipping coffee from the saucer.

The Historical Context

At that time, coffee was often prepared by boiling water and adding coffee grounds directly to it. The result was an extremely hot beverage. The wide and flat surface of the saucer provided an efficient way to cool the coffee quickly, making it more enjoyable to drink. It was a practical solution at a time when coffee cups were not designed to withstand high temperatures.

The Evolution of Coffee Consumption

As time passed and coffee culture evolved, the tradition of drinking from a saucer gradually faded. Technological advances in coffee brewing, such as the invention of porcelain cups that could withstand high temperatures, led to a shift in drinking habits. In addition, the rise of coffee shops and the availability of different brewing methods and equipment helped change the way coffee was consumed.

Modern Saucer Drinking

While drinking coffee from a saucer is no longer a common practice, some older people may still remember and use this method. Today, most coffee shops serve coffee in mugs or to-go cups, eliminating the need for a saucer. However, for those who want to experience this historic tradition firsthand, it can be a fun and nostalgic experiment. Just be careful not to burn yourself and make sure the saucer is deep enough to hold the liquid.

Bottom line

The act of drinking coffee from a saucer was indeed a part of coffee culture in the past. People used this method to cool the hot beverage and enjoy it without burning their tongues. While it may seem odd by today’s standards, understanding the historical context helps us appreciate the evolution of coffee consumption over the years. So the next time you sip your coffee from a modern cup, take a moment to reflect on the rich traditions that have shaped our love affair with this beloved beverage.


Did people actually drink coffee off the saucer?

Drinking coffee from a saucer was certainly done as a way to quickly cool down the hot beverage inside the cup. Because coffee was boiled, it was served extremely hot. Saucers, some of which were more like shallow bowls, allowed the liquid to cool faster by spreading it over more surface area.

Did people drink coffee out of a saucer?

In the 18th century, especially in Victorian society, it was common for one to pour tea or coffee into the saucer and sip it from the little plate itself. The wider surface area allowed the beverage to cool faster, while coffee in the cup remained hot until the drinker was ready for more.

When did people stop drinking from saucers?

While the habit of drinking out of the saucer seemed to disappear in England by the end of the 1850s (at least among the upper and middle classes), the custom continued in Europe into the 20th century. The French still have their morning coffee out of a bowl!

Who drinks coffee out of a saucer?

The drinking from the saucer is actually a Swedish tradition. According to this site, it says that: Certainly it’s an old tradition in Sweden. You pour the coffee from your cup into the saucer and sip it – usually quite noisily – after blowing a little on it (to cool it).

Did people used to drink tea out of the saucers?

“Russian aristocrats, the true tea-drinking class, were strong enough to drink their tea hot or patient enough to wait for it to cool,” he says. “Merchants and other climbers were weak and/or hurried so resorted to the saucer. Poor people were said to slurp tea noisily from saucers.”

Why do some people drink coffee out of a saucer?

Because coffee was boiled, it was served extremely hot. Saucers, some of which were more like shallow bowls, allowed the liquid to cool faster by spreading it over more surface area. It was more efficient, and more polite, to drink coffee from a saucer rather than slurping it while it was hot.