China coffee cups are not often thought about. In fact, bone china coffee mugs seem to be rare. I have only seen a handful of these china coffee mugs in recent memory and most were from one friend in particular who has a penchant of all things elegant and luxurious. Most of us, if I can be so bold as to speak for all of you, when asked about bone china bring to mind images of tea, Ceylon and perhaps English gentry. Well, maybe that’s just me, but I think you get the picture. Most of the bone china cups I’ve been familiar with have usually been included with a whole tea set.
China coffee cups moving away from tea
Now don’t get me wrong, I love tea, but this isn’t about tea, it’s about coffee and specifically coffee cups and saucers made from bone china. Now china coffee cups are very closely related to porcelain. In fact, I’d argue that porcelain is bone china’s poorer cousin. And when doing the research for this I was quite surprised by the ingredients to be found in bone china coffee cups.
Perhaps we should first discuss porcelain so that we can then move on to bone china. A major component in both porcelain and china coffee cups is clay. More specifically kaolin clay. In general there are 3 types of porcelain, although these are divided up into many others. There is soft paste porcelain, hard paste porcelain and bone china. Interestingly enough, bone china was developed in England from what many believe was an incorrect interpretation of Chinese porcelain. It was in China where porcelain first developed.
The 411 on china coffee cups ingredients
So china coffee cups will most likely be made from either hard paste porcelain or bone china. Bone china coffee mugs are more expensive, because bone china has less ingredients but the ingredients are expensive and the labour is intensive. I always though that china coffee cups or bone china coffee cups were called that because bone china looks as white as bone. Sadly however, it’s a little more nefarious than that. Bone china coffee mugs are made of 50% bone ash from cows, 25% kaolin clay and 25% Cornish stone.
I’m not crazy about drinking my coffee from espresso cups and saucers made of ground bones. Nevertheless, china coffee cups can also be made from more generic porcelain as mentioned earlier, though this also contains bone ash but a variety of other materials too. It is not as “pure” as bone china.
In light of all this research I’ve done for china coffee cups I’ve started to think that glass coffee cups, paper coffee cups, hell, even disposable coffee cups might be a better choice. I’m not sure I want to be relying on slaughterhouses and the death of sentient beings for my crockery. Perhaps there is blood on the lips from the sips of china coffee cups.
Personally, I’ll stick with my stainless steel French press. I’ll take a travel coffee press with me because I prefer French press coffee anyway. Though in all fairness, china coffee cups are quite elegant and beautiful and many can be considered works of art. So if that is your preference enjoy them, but pay hommage to the real blood equity that went into those china coffee cups.