November 8, 2010

The Vehicle Counts

There is a part of my daily coffee routine which I've not mentioned. This is odd, of course, if one considers the sheer volume of stuff that I do mention. I have numerous posts that, in truth, are only tangentially related to coffee at all, yet none on the vessel from which I drink coffee.

Perhaps this is emblematic of a larger oversight. Perhaps the vessel is taken for granted, or disregarded when considering the quality of the drink. But as the saying goes, the Devil is in the details. In this case, so is the perfect drink.

The cup I travel with, and use most often, is ceramic, with a silicon sleeve and lid. The materials are not accidental. Ceramic holds heat very well, but so do many other materials. But unlike, say, stainless steal, ceramic actually is relatively stainless. When we're dealing with coffee, that's important.

But it's the silicon I'm particularly happy with. The sleeve is nice, of course, in that it keeps me from burning my hands. Calloused though they are at this point, they aren't invulnerable. And the ceramic does get rather hot, which, as I said, I think is a good thing. The lid is a bigger deal, however. There is a case to be made for drinking coffee without a lid. That much must be said first of all. Doing it that way allows for optimal slurping and smelling, and thus better tasting. But people are busy. Thus lids are needed. Silicon, unlike plastic, say, is virtually tasteless. So my coffee, even when slurped through a whole in the lid, tastes like coffee, and not the lid itself. And though silicon does get brown, it cleans quite easily.

There is also the ecological impact to consider. I drink a lot of coffee. In doing so, I'm already responsible for paper filter use, energy in brewing the coffee, growing the coffee, transporting it, etc. All of this is to say, I leave a not insubstantial carbon footprint via my coffee habit. However, by using the ceramic mug, I am, at least, not responsible for the waste of cups, lids or sleeves.

But altruism, while nice, tends to lose out when it battles with self-interest. Thankfully, in this case, there is no conflict. In buying a ceramic mug for (probably) less than 10$, you will easily make your money back shortly, as most coffee shops give a substantial discount to those who provide their own cup. Unfortunately, the Starbucks Co. is not among those, offering only a 10-cent discount. But perhaps that will change in the future. I'd like to think so, personally.

So all of that said, here's the rub: You really ought to invest in a ceramic travel mug. It's better for you, the environment, and your coffee.

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