When you’re handed a coffee, you probably don’t wonder about the little plate the cup is sitting on. It’s standard practice in the industry to serve coffee with a saucer, for reasons like convenience and neatness. It’s a clean place to rest the spoon, it’s a stabilizing way to carry the cup and catch drips, and it’s a sharing plate in case your friend shows up and wants to some of your pastry. But the saucer used to play a very different role in coffee consumption.
In the 18th century, especially in Victorian society, it was common for one to pour tea or coffee into the saucer and sip it from the little plate itself. The wider surface area allowed the beverage to cool faster, while coffee in the cup remained hot until the drinker was ready for more. In some cultures today, they still sip their coffee and tea from saucers.
Now you know. We won’t judge if you want to try it out on your next visit.