Mug Revolution

February 23, 2012

Owen Dearing throws things for a living.

In Owen’s line of work, that’s a method, not a tantrum. In his Bend, Oregon studio, Owen hand-throws coffee mugs. Extraordinary mugs. Mugs big enough to hold other mugs. This isn’t a cup innovation, it’s a Mug Revolution!

I think there’s a symbiotic relationship between a beverage and the container it’s served in. Brew a perfect pot of your favorite coffee, pour it into a styrofoam cup and you’ve immediately lost half the magic of the drink. Styrofoam has no soul! Now, pour yourself a generous 16 ounces of brew into one of Owen’s mugs. Pick it up, making sure to marvel at the fact that your entire hand fits nicely around the handle. Curl your free hand around the other side of the mug, and let the warmth of your coffee permeate the clay to warm your skin. Lift the cup and feel it’s weight. It’s certainly not too heavy to lift, but has a comforting heft to it. Take a sip and lean back. I predict by now you’ve got a smile on your face.

And isn’t that what a perfect mug of coffee is all about?

Owen has been a studio potter since 1990. Every mug he sells has been hand-thrown and shaped on his potter’s wheel, fired, then glazed with up to four different glazes. It then heads for the kiln where it will spend up to 14 hours at temperatures reaching a toasty 2,350° F. Then after cooling for 36 hours, the finished mug finally emerges. It’s a slow process, but well worth it.

We’ve returned to the days of small independent companies who will roast your coffee beans with care. Doesn’t it seem like the perfect compliment to serve these special coffees in a mug prepared with an equal amount of craftsmanship and pride?

Owen is also working on hand-crafting some smaller 12 ounce mugs, which will soon be featured on his website along with their big 16 ounce pals. I’m confident they will be as well made as the original mugs – although I’ll hang onto my supersized mug, thank you very much!

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