The Great Mug Incident of ’13

Tea or coffee?
I need a new mug.

I had a work mug, identical to the hundreds of others which everyone got recently. Most of these mugs ended up in the kitchens, but I’d managed to hold onto this one specific mug since I got it. So, it was with no small amount of sadness that today it got lost amongst all the other identical mugs in the dishwasher.

It wasn’t me who put it there, I hasten to add. Now, to the casual observer, it was just another mug. But this was my mug. I’d washed it every night and kept it safe on my desk. Could you not just take one of the other mugs, I was asked. The ‘exactly the same as the one you lost’ went unsaid.

No. That was my mug.

I know it sounds silly. I know, I know.

So now, I need to go mug shopping. I’ve had a number of mugs over the years, but there are some quite specific requirements when it comes to getting The Perfect Mug.

  • Size. Despite what they say, when it comes to mugs, size *is* important. Too small, and you’re into multiple tea rounds. Too large, and it’s cold by the time you get to the bottom of the cup.
  • Handle. You need a good handle on a mug, one which facilitates carrying multiple cups for the aforementioned tea round. I’ve had mugs with handles which are too small, making the multi-carry tricky, or with sides which slope, causing the tea to slosh.
  • Design. I’m not a huge fan of the gimmicky slogan mugs. I like them to be a little plainer and understated. That said, my favourite ‘at home’ mug is the Starbucks City Mug I got in Barcelona. Perfect size, good handle, straight sides. Trouble is, Barcelona is a long way to go to get a replacement. And getting one from here with ‘London’ on it just isn’t quite right.

So, dear reader, I’m in the market for The Perfect Mug. I’ve got my eye on a few potentials, but am open to suggestions…

* The mugs in the photo aren’t the identical ones I was referring to. Yes, they are identical. But the pendantic amongst you will note that they’re cups, not mugs. Well spotted, you.

DaBloPoMo – a recap

Well well, dear reader. Here we are on day ten of #DaBloPoMo[1]. It’s been going quite well thus far, I think.

I’ve talked about a number of things thus far. On day 1 we had a chat about amusing spam, followed up by a post prompted by @LeedsBookClub talking about the film Labyrinth, in which you can see me playing with my ball.

No, it’s an crystal[1] juggling ball. Filthy minds, you lot.

Did you watch the videos I failed to embed? Really, you should. Let me try again.

Day 3 and I was playing with a pulp fiction cover generator.

Then I talked about being a stationery geek. This post got picked up on The Pen Addict’s Ink Links and blog views went nuts. Well, relatively. Tons more views than usual. Still getting traffic now from it. Thanks Pen Addict!

I had a chat about coffee, then rambled at length about ebooks and kindles. Another good post for views, that one.

That led onto my love affair with books, prompted by Becs of Bits and Bobs Becs. She left a great comment on the ebook post too, with a link to a wonderful letter by Harper Lee.

Following up the book theme, I looked at interesting things found inside books, with particular reference to something awesome I found in a lovely little book of poetry.

Then yesterday I was a little ill, so left you with a photo of a tree.

It’s been a busy ten days, dear reader. I’ve got a whole host of other things to natter on about in February. Watch this space!

[1] Dave’s Blog Posting Month. But then you knew that, right?
[2] ok, ok, it’s clear acrylic. Still looks cool.


double espresso macchiato

Today, dear reader, I’d like to talk about coffee.

A conspiracy of events this morning[1] left me in a bit of a rush, and without my usual home-brewed coffee to hand. As I walked up the hill to work, I realised that I really could do with a nice hot cup of coffee. I’d already passed Laynes, Bottega was too far out of the way and I’d just gone past the big Starbucks.

Oh look, there’s a Greggs. I can combine coffee with maybe a sneaky little bacon sarnie. Oh, go on then.

Now, I ought to make it clear that I’m quite fond of coffee, and go out of my way to at least try to spend most of my coffee-related purchases at one of Leeds’ excellent independent coffee shops. Usually the aforementioned Bottega or Laynes, with the odd foray out to Brewbar Espresso under the Art Gallery. They all make a quite splendid cup of coffee. Tell them I sent you, that’ll confuse ’em.

The coffee from Greggs was quite awful. No, very awful. It had a nasty, chemical taste to it. According to their website

Every coffee bean we use is 100% Fairtrade. Each cup of coffee is made with our blend of high-grown Arabica beans and rich-tasting Robusta beans, which are slow-roasted to create a delicious full flavour.

Hmm. Ick. Won’t be doing that again. The bacon sarnie, however, was quite tasty.

Now, having said that I’m fond of good coffee, I have to say that I do spend a reasonable amount of time in Starbucks[2]. Oh, hush at the back. Their coffee isn’t as bad as you’re making out. No, really. It’s perfectly fine, and has the added bonus of being reliably and consistently fine no matter which branch (and there are oh so many branches) of the ‘bucks you choose to frequent.

Some mornings you just *need* a very large cup of hot coffee-flavoured milk. And whilst Bottega/Laynes et al produce a superb coffee, they come in smaller cups. For very good reasons, of course, but when you need a vast quantity of caffeine to get you started, Starbucks it is.

Also at lunchtimes I feel less guillty about paying a couple of quid for a large mug of coffee and reading my book for an hour than I would at one of the smaller indie places. On account of them being smaller, I’d be taking up more of their valuable seating space. And, as I said earlier, I reckon I spend 80% of my coffee money in the independents anyway.

I’ll be talking about coffee more as part of another project I’m working on. In the meantime, where’s your favourite coffee shop?

[1] largely my fault, but I blame the snow/trains/children. *cough*
[2] yes, I know about the tax thing. However, I’m firmly of the opinion that it should be the government doing something about it rather than leaving it to the conscience of large corporations. Heck, if I could get away with paying less tax, I would. Wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Now shush. Back to the story.

#DaBloPoMo day #5