Did you know people used to drink coffee on a plate in the past?

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We still use a small plate under our coffee cup today, but have you ever wondered what this dish is for? How did this custom come about? This formality is very old and has its history, and we will tell you all about it!

The invention of the plate that accompanies the cup of coffee

If you thought baristas used the dish to decorate, look formal in front of guests or attendees to an event, bring the spoon, place the sugar envelope, or avoid burning our fingers with the cup, you’re wrong! This social practice had a very different purpose than today. 

So, what is the purpose of the plate? Some historians say people used the dish to cool coffee. However, some suggest that people drank coffee directly from the plate in the eighteenth century. 

The dishes were deeper and wider than today’s, and coffee was poured inside until it cooled. This information is well documented in photos and documents of the time, and we can see it in a famous conversation between two American founding fathers:

– “Why do you pour coffee on the plate before you drink it?” Washington began.

– “To cool it down,” Jefferson replied, “I don’t have a metal neck.”

Yet, for some historians, this has always been a supposed dialogue that has not been verified. Still, the evidence shows that it was a custom and that the coffee gets cold much faster if you pour it into the small plate. Follow us on social media for more curious facts.


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Malbin Rodríguez
Malbin Rodríguez