Coffee Affection is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Who Invented the Coffee Mug? From the Stone Age to Now

red coffee mugs

Coffee mugs have made quite an evolution over the years. While most people consider these handy cups perfect for coffee and tea, you don’t have to be a fan of these drinks to enjoy a nice mug. With the clever sayings, art, and even personalizations that have become so popular when it comes to a good coffee mug, everyone wants one of their own. Let’s learn more about coffee mugs and how they came to be the popular kitchen additions we’ve all grown to love.

divider 6

The First Coffee Mugs

If you are a fan of a great coffee mug, you may be curious as to where these stylish pieces of drinkware originated. It may be shocking to learn the first mugs originated during the Neolithic Stone Age. While the original mugs differed slightly, it was clear what they were used for. These primitive mugs didn’t have the signature handles our modern mugs have, but they would be considered far more durable considering they were made from bone and wood.

These first mugs were crafted around 3900 BC and were found in Japan and China. While these mugs were handcrafted, it was the materials used that made them stand out so much. Wood, of course, was the main material used, but people of the Neolithic Era didn’t mind using animal skulls to make their mugs.

cappuccino blue mug
Image Credit: Charlize Birdsinger, Unsplash

The Evolution of the Coffee Mug

Not unlike today, people in ancient times were constantly trying to improve their lives. This includes the mugs they drank from. In roughly 3000 BC, blacksmiths realized they could make mugs from other materials. This is when bronze, gold, silver, and lead came into play. Unfortunately, these mugs were quite dangerous and were known to cause lead poisoning or serious burns when using them.

Around 2400 BC, the British began using pottery as their go-to drinkware. Known as “beaker pots” these bell-shaped pieces of pottery migrated with a group of hunters by the same name. As the Beaker folk moved around Europe, they shared their pottery, making it a popular way to create mugs and other cookware.

After the creation of the pottery wheel, ceramics made their appearance. It was around 1200 BC and intricacy became the norm when crafted mugs. Patterns and designs were now added to mugs to give each one a unique appearance.

Mugs Go Mainstream

While mugs evolved with each period, it wasn’t until 1945 that they made the mainstream. With the love of coffee taking over, the Victor Insulator Company stepped in to make diner life easier for people in the United States. Their simple, white coffee mugs became a staple in diners across the country. While they didn’t offer many options, diner owners could have their diner’s name screen printed on the plain white cups.

three mugs of mccafe coffee
Image Credit: Pixabay

Style Takes Over

While the plain white mugs may have taken over diners, things would continue to change as the years passed. As the 90s took over, so did fun and stylish coffee mugs. Even Starbucks got in on the fun. Novelty mugs, puzzle mugs, and even mugs featuring pictures of our families burst onto the scene. Once this happened, things never slowed down. Nowadays, you can step into any store and find coffee mugs, tumblers, and even travel mugs to take your drinks with you on the go.

divider 5

In Conclusion

While mugs may have originated in the Stone Age, it’s clear they are still evolving today. The next time you pick up your favorite coffee mug, think back to where it all started. You should thank these original pioneers for their efforts. You should also thank your lucky stars we are not drinking coffee out of mugs made of bone.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

Read more

Related posts

Other Categories