Choosing the perfect coffee cup (What yours says about you)

17 Dec 2021


What does a coffee cup do?

I know what you’re thinking, but a coffee cup does so much more than simply deliver the coffee to your lips. Our relationship with drinking vessels goes far deeper than that. We use them every single day, often entirely subconsciously. But, try serving someone wine in a pint glass and you’ll soon see how the vessel affects the experience. Wine in a pint glass is just wrong.

With coffee, the relationship is less black and white. We’ve all been served lattes in a fancy glass, and all had our metal cups replenished with a morning cup of camping-stove coffee. There’s nothing inherently wrong in either scenario, but you wouldn’t expect a metal camping cup to appear after ordering a cappuccino from your local Hotel Chocolat café. You see, it’s all about time, place and mood. Your coffee cup forms an intensely tactile bridge between your coffee, your environment and yourself.

Just ask Andrew Wicks, award-winning ceramicist and graduate of the Royal College of Arts, who Hotel Chocolat founder & CEO Angus Thirlwell commissioned to design our Podcups for the Velvetiser™, and naturally returned to for the Podster’s coffee cups.

“How you feel about a cup depends on your relationship with coffee,” says Andrew.“Angus’ original brief was for one cup, and I made 28 different versions to give him a choice. But as he began showing them to people, he discovered that how they felt about the shapes really depended on how they feel about coffee and what it means to them. And, this could change with their mood or the time of day.”

Why does your choice of coffee cup matter?

Your choice of cup, much like your choice of coffee itself, is a profoundly personal experience.

“Some people like the idea of coffee waking them up, making them feel bright and sparky. Some people like something warmer, more comforting and curvaceous. And others are really drawn to something they could imagine meeting and talking with friends over.” Andrew continues, “These became the Spark, the Hug, and the Chat.”

“Cups can be quite intimate objects. I’ve always been interested in how we interact with them. When you put hot liquid into ceramics, it warms up an object that you then cradle in your hands. It’s very tactile. You can be quite unaware how connected you are to what you’re holding. And then there’s that moment you put the cup to your lips. There aren’t many things you do that with. It’s very personal, isn’t it?”

Ceramics and coffee are a natural match.

Ceramics encourage more personal, intimate connections to be formed between you and your coffee. The relationships between form, size and density profoundly affect the experience, in the same way that the blend, roast and growing conditions affect coffee itself.

Andrew explains the inspirations behind the family of coffee cups he sculpted for us, each with its own unique personality.

“I work in a converted cow shed outside Bath. Angus came to visit my studio with samples of coffee cups that he liked. We talked their shapes and qualities, how they feel in the hand; the emotions that different shapes can give us, how rounder, heavier shapes can feel more comforting, and I started off with these ideas.”

“Nature is always the greatest inventor. It creates the most beautiful things. When you look at the shape of a cacao pod, it’s a very pure, oval shape, like the purity of an egg. It’s the most beautiful form. I was deeply inspired by the fascinating grooves of the pod and the coffee bean. Coffee has a rich, full flavour, so I wanted full-bodied forms and shapes with a pure colour, contrasting rich dark coffee and creamy white ceramic.”

Coffee cups with character

“The cups each have their own character; they just appeared. I can control it to a degree. I started with sketches of rounded forms, straight-sided forms, more curvaceous forms. Then it came from throwing them and shaping them, from physically handling them in your hand. But something happens when you’re really concentrating your whole body and mind on creating these pieces. That’s when the magic stuff happens.”

Happiness in every cup.

Andrew’s journey of exploration, inspiration from nature and dedication to perfection is one Hotel Chocolat well understands.

We made our own unique range of coffee cups because we believe that great coffee deserves a cup designed with adventure, intimacy and inspiration from nature at its heart – and that’s why ours elevate our signature blends to new heights.

The Chat

You’re in your element on the sofa, enjoying a barista-grade coffee and an intimate conversation with nearest and dearest. You know how to switch off, unwind and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Coffee Choice: Easy to get along with, just like you – a creamy latte brewed with The One.

The Spark

Zesty, inspiring and proactive, you love a good caffeine kick in the morning and top-up throughout another busy, vibrant day.

Coffee choice: It’s got to be a Rocket Americano.

The Hug

A great cup of coffee takes you to your happy place. Turn down the lights, snooze notifications and take 5 minutes for yourself.

Coffee choice: A comforting cappuccino with our Cashmere blend.

It’s not just our ceramics and our carefully perfected blends of ethically sourced coffee that deliver happiness in every cup.

We ensure everybody in our coffee production programme is treated fairly, and that coffee is grown and produced in accordance with our core principles. That means we take care of the environment, by utilising sustainable farming practices and a commitment to zero deforestation. We ensure we can trace every coffee bean right back to the farm where it was grown, and that each farmer is fairly rewarded, empowered and engaged in programmes that meaningfully benefit their local communities.

At Hotel Chocolat, sustainability is key to who we are as a business. That’s why we couldn’t launch a range of coffee pods without offering a practical solution to the problem of coffee pod by-waste. Enter, the Podcycler.

Coffee pod recycling at its simplest and most elegant, that requires almost no maintenance, uses no power, and enables you to recycle every single part of your coffee pod with minimal fuss. It separates the coffee grounds from the aluminium foil so you can sprinkle them on your compost and put your foil straight in your household recycling.

Ethically sourced coffee in pods which are 100% recyclable in your household waste… Happiness from bean to cup, and beyond!

Start your Hotel Chocolat coffee journey today.