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Mugs vs cups & saucers

Hi, this is probably a silly question but I'm curious.

We currently only have a set of mugs (white porcelain that match our dishware). We use the same dishes (including the mugs) for everyday use as well as entertaining. We never invested or requested fine china when we married. We just don't have the space for all of it but maybe someday...

Anyhow, recently I've been feeling that it would be great to have some cups and saucers for dinner with company. The mugs just seem so HUGE (and informal?) at dinner, though they're great for the morning cup of joe and brunches.

Then I started reading how serving coffee or tea in mugs might be an etiquette no-no...particularly outside of the U.S. (and we currently live abroad so it really got me thinking).

What do you use? Do have both mugs and cups/saucers? I expect those who have both china and everyday dishware do.

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  1. I have both. We use mugs for every day, and cups and saucers when I do a coffee service when we have a group over. I use my fine china then. But you could just get a set of cups and saucers, with a matching sugar and creamer, rather than invest in an expensive set.

    1. I have both mugs and cups & saucers. The mugs are informal - used for very close family only and it depends on the situation. Cups and saucers are always used for guests and sometimes for family, too. And depending on the formality of the event, the cups might be my fine china or my grandmother's cups, or they might be Fiesta or Harlequin.

      Getting a coffee service is a nice idea. It wouldn't take up nearly as much space as a whole set of dishes. And there are so many choices! As for me, my grandmother collected teacups and I inherited quite a few of them. If I use hers, every cup and saucer is different from the others, they are all vintage, and that is kind of fun, too. Mostly I use those if I have friends over for tea in the afternoon.

      1. We mainly have mugs but I recently bought two sets of white cups and saucers sort of a French style that are great for cafe au lait. One for myself and the second for a friend when they come to visit. My husband has a white mug that is his favorite; he drinks his coffee black.

        1. I, too, have both, but rarely use cups and saucers anymore, except for serving desserts. I don't entertain like I used to and have serious tremors in both hands that make holding a cup and saucer nearly impossible. Enjoy what you have and can afford.

          1. We have and use both and most of our mugs, cups & saucers, plates, platters, bowls, etc. were thrift shop and antique shop finds bought over time. It's always a fun "hunt" to source treasures other people tired of; inexpensive but worthwhile finds.

            1. I use and have both mugs and cups.

              As others mentioned you can buy a "desert set" and it will have cake plates and small cups and saucers.

              The nice thing about a "cup" for me it's the right amount of coffee to serve after eating a meal. I have a huge mugs of coffee in the morning.

              The mug is just too much coffee to drink after a meal in the evening.

              1. Well, you've convinced me to spring for some cups and saucers...not that I need too much convincing!

                I've fallen in love with a particular china pattern but it's just sold as cups and saucers (no matching dessert plates sold separately) AND I think it's only sold in Turkey...hence, I might be screwed if one breaks.

                My white porcelain dishes have cups and saucers that are sold separately so I just may get those until I can afford and have the space for a set of china or a different set of dishes. Going the practical route, I guess.

                Thanks for weighing in!

                7 Replies
                1. re: DCcook

                  Seriously, check out Goodwill and second hand stores. They have some amazing sets for next to nothing.

                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                    I once ate at a restaurent that was in an old home converted into dining rooms and all the service items were beautiful antiques, but in unmatching patterns, even the silver. I liked the quirky look; and the restaurant didn't need to worry about matching cup to saucer.

                  2. re: DCcook

                    They don't have to match, so go ahead and get your Turkish set, replacing the broken ones with something else. I have a lot of mismatched cups and saucers and people love it when I use those instead of matched ones. They usually think it's charming (or maybe they think I'm poor and uncouth and are just humoring me, who knows?).

                    1. re: Isolda

                      An aged but well-traveled friend of mine likes to share the stories and memories of her collection of mismatched cups/saucers when we use them. I find those tales to be a delightful sidetrip on our visits.

                      ps. Isolda -- how was B de B?

                      1. re: Stephanie Wong

                        Daughter of a German chiming in - we had mugs for everyday use and a variety of cups with matching saucers for company/entertaining. My parents would pick up them in their travels.

                    2. re: DCcook

                      Personally, I really like a cup and saucer, especially when dining out. Seems so much more civilized than a mug, and somehow more conducive to lingering conversation (maybe that's why many places have switched to mugs!).

                      Since you have white dishes, you have lots of choices. You could even get white cups but patterned saucers sold separately in sets or collected on eBay or in thrift shops. The saucers need not match one another as long as the white cups are a close or exact match to the white plates.

                      I have plain white stoneware and have accessorized it with creamer/sugar, S&P, saucers, etc. from the Norwegian manufacturer Figgjo (aka Figgio), which no longer exists but was very popular in the 60's. Lovely designs and modern patterns, available on eBa

                      1. re: DCcook

                        I'm a mug person, as I never have a party fancy enough to require cups and saucers for after dinner coffee.

                        But I suggest going to secondhand stores and getting *mismatched* cup and saucer sets. Makes for a more interesting table.

                      2. We have both, and use the cups and saucers for more formal occasions, as well as for older ladies, who prefer them. But if I ever come to your house and you offer me coffee, please put it in a huge mug! I'll do a cup and saucer or even a demitasse after dinner, but when I want coffee, I want COFFEE.

                        1. Good suggestions all around! I'm so sold on the cups and saucers since our guests typically have coffee or tea after dinner (even while the wine is still flowing) but have been torn between all white porcelain pieces to match our other dinnerware or some other more colorful ones.

                          I'd love to get both! I like the idea of having some color in our settings (the ones I'm into are white, light yellow and gray) but wonder if others (the more formal crowd) will find it odd.

                          We don't have tons of space and we move so frequently (and therefore worry about things breaking in moves overseas) that I'd like to find pieces that can always be replaced (much like our PB dinnerware...I love that's it's always in stock).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DCcook

                            I have beautiful, colorful hand glazed cups and saucers from Tlalpan, Mexico, and they enable so much more familiarity than slurping from mugs. Yes, they require dexterity, time, caution, perhaps re-filling, but provide a superior social conduit between you and your guests. Mugs are so hit-and-run, and are grasped as snake handlers grasp. Cups and saucers are nice and slow. I like that.

                          2. Mugs only for me. My entertaining is not fancy and space is quite limited plus I've never felt the need. But I do second the notion of checking out second hand stores for interesting cups and saucers. I've seen some very interesting ones in such places. Have fun!

                            1. Mismatched mugs for coffee and I'm fine with that- I don't have the space nor need for a matched set. I use mismatched china for tea, which I prefer to a matched set.