Saturday, March 23, 2013

Still Life With Robin: 32 Mugs

by Peggy Robin

Thirty-two. That's the number of coffee mugs sitting on my kitchen shelves right now.

Four. That's the number of coffee mugs I actually use for coffee. By simple math I see that seven-eighths of the mugs I own, I reject out of hand.

Here's the situation. I drink one cup of coffee in the morning. I put milk in my coffee, and with the benefit of many years' experience as a milked coffee drinker, I have discovered that the best way to gauge when the time is right to stop pouring milk into my coffee is when the color of the coffee turns the right shade of tan. I can best see the moment of that color change against a white background, and so I use only those coffee mugs that are white on the inside.

That's criterion number one for a usable coffee mug. That rules out about a third of the mugs we own.

Then there's size. While over the years I have acquired mugs in all shapes and sizes, I find the ideal size for a mug is three and three quarters inches tall and three inches in diameter. I'll accept a quarter to a half inch deviation in either measurement, but even so, that sharply reduces the total of right-sized mugs to ten.

Now we come to thickness of material. If it's too thick, the mug feels clunky and heavy to hold. And the edge of the mug takes up too much room in my mouth when I sip from it. Too thin, and the outside of the mug gets too hot when first filled with hot coffee. I have one mug that meets all the other criteria but it's too thick; and another that would be fine, except that it's too thin.

Then there's shape. I don't like a mug that tapers inward or outward. I only use mugs that are plain, straight cylinders. Now we're down to six mugs.

Finally, we come to the handle, which needs to make a nice, rounded "C" with plenty of clearance to curl the fingers around it, without the risk of touching the hot outside of the mug. That knocks out two skimpily-handled mugs, and now we're down to the final four that make the cut.

Why don't I get rid of the others? I'm not the only mug user in my family, just the one with the most requirements in a mug. Being as persnickety as I am, I am in no position to pronounce upon anyone else's mug-liness.


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park-com, and All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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