What distinguishes a good quality coffee cup from a poor quality one?

March 20, 2019

That’s a great question. You might think that a coffee cup is just a piece of fashionable dishware used to serve a liquid. So what explains the difference in price, the materials used making the cup and its origins?

It’s much more than a question of design!

How does it feel in your hand?

Photo credit : Les photos d'Augustin -Barista contest at Structure Roaster

Whether at home or in an establishment, nothing is more unpleasant than getting a cup you can’t hold in your hands. A cup that is too hot indicates one thing: it absorbs heat rather than keeping it in the liquid. A cup that absorbs a lot of heat is usually a sign of a product whose component materials contain substituents, most commonly bone ash. Clay-like minerals such as hard porcelain provide far superior quality. Substituents are used to save costs and unfortunately, they are not free of any inconveniences. Most Quebec soil does not contain these minerals, and although our artisans are very talented, mugs made here usually carry this defect unless the clay was imported, which drives up prices considerably.


Vitrification versus glaze or varnish for repeated washings

The way the cup is finished has a major impact on its durability and longevity. Vitrification is a technique (in-glaze) in which the chemical result of heating the clay gives it a glossy appearance. It is a layer of glass that formed by chemical transformation and protects the porcelain from external elements like water, coffee acidity, cleaning, etc. A product that is made with the over-glaze method is preheated before applying any decoration (colour). It is then finished with a protective layer, often glaze or varnish. The issue with this second technique is that without vitrification, this layer will eventually degrade from external elements, particularly after recurrent use and the thermal shock from a commercial high temperature dishwashing machine. With this type of cup, you will notice fine cracks, which inevitably lead to the porcelain being infiltrated. With water and coffee, the porcelain becomes gray, and these signs of wear after liquid infiltration is evidence of uncleanliness. As a result, it becomes more porous and breaks more easily, so consider the durability factor when choosing a cup.


In conclusion, a quality porcelain cup will improve the quality of your service, and it will be all the more durable over time if it is vitrified. And although getting custom printing on your cup has a negligible impact on its quality, it will adhere better and last longer. 

Here is a comparisons table that shows how Inker coffee cups are best 

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