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The Favorite Mug

Updated: Apr 30

The smell of fresh coffee wafts across the kitchen while the steam sounds gurgle and hiss to a stop. On cue, you wander in that direction and open the cabinet door. Shoot. THE mug isn’t there. Three steps sideways and back, you lower the dishwasher door. Ah, there it is on the middle shelf, clean and ready to go. Whew.


Yes, there are other mugs, but coffee in your favorite is different . . . better somehow. What is it about your favorite mug? Is it the look of it? The feel? The memories attached to it? Why do you look for it every morning?


Four randomly selected folks from my day-to-day travels and I share our answer to the question here along with some photos. I suspect our answers will resonate with all “favorite-muggers.” Some of our mugs hold memories of a time and place. Others feel right. The handle fits. The shape keeps coffee warm.

Susan Brown, Potters' Guild of Frederick member

While we all hope our favorite mug lives forever, pottery is breakable and losing your favorite is always possible. Susan Brown took precautions and ordered a backup. The one in the photo here is the newly acquired “favorite mug in case of emergency.” She makes her own mugs, but her favorite is one made four years ago by Anna Marie Poole, another of the Potters' Guild of Frederick members. It has specific characteristics, which she listed to Poole in the ordering of its twin. It’s quite big for a coffee mug and heavy enough to resist being knocked over. It has a relatively narrow neck compared to the belly, but the neck is wide enough so that her hand fits inside to clean it. The “not wimpy” handle fits perfectly. Now that she has the emergency favorite, she can breathe a sigh of relief.

Samantha Kline, physical therapist assistant, Waynesboro

Both Liz Farmer Bedard and Samantha Duesler-Kline have sentimental reasons behind their choice of favorites, but, like Brown, Kline also mentioned the size and shape of her mug as part of the appeal. “It holds a lot of liquid, but it’s tapered at the top, so it fits in my hand like a smaller one.” Kline found her mug during a trip about five years ago. The memory of that journey to Emerald Isle in North Carolina plays an important role in her choice of favorites. It was the first time she traveled alone without family members. Initially, she was nervous about it, but quickly discovered the serenity of alone time that lasted longer than “a trip to the grocery store.” She wandered through a group of nearby shops selling handmade items looking for a souvenir. Once she saw this mug, she knew her search was over, and it has been her favorite since.

Liz Farmer Bedard, fiscal policy writer and journalist, Smithsburg

Farmer Bedard also purchased her favorite during a trip, but her trip wasn’t solo. In fact, with her parents in from California to babysit, it was the first time since their five-year old son, Joey’s, birth that she and her husband were able to get away overnight together. Farmer Bedard loves the color and the logo on the front of the mug. The signature on the bottom makes it “feel personal,” but it’s the memories the mug holds of their trip to Silver Lake in the Shenandoah Valley that seals the favorite-mug deal.




Steve Yarnall, Potters' Guild of Frederick member

Like many potters, including me, we made our favorite mug. Steve Yarnall fired his current favorite mug in an anagama wood kiln at Tim Sherman’s place in the mountains about a year ago. Like Brown, he knows what he is looking for in a mug and believes design to be quite personal. “They have to be the right size and have the right feel . . . be comfortable in your hand when you hold them.” He also pays attention to the rim. For him, it must be beveled so it’s comfortable when he takes a drink. The handle should be balanced enough so the mug is easy to hold when full and has enough space between finger and wall to insulate you from the heat of the mug itself when it’s full of hot liquid.



Cathie McCormick, Potters' Guild of Frederick member

My crooked mug commemorates the moment I grew to like “gestural, imperfect” objects. Unlike Yarnall’s, my current favorite is not a recently made one. I made it in 1986. Back then, I hated this mug. It’s crooked and off-center and it got shifted around from place to place until I rediscovered it . . . and a new taste for all things off-center a few years back.



Favorites change. Mugs break. No matter what criteria you use, your favorite mug is personal and important. It’s the one you look for in the morning and the one you mourn when it breaks. So tomorrow when you reach for it think about why it’s your favorite and tell us about it in the comments. 




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