We're used to grabbing things on the go, like espresso or a double shot latte on the way to work in the familiar paper cup with a plastic lid. We're in a hurry, we're stressed, we're in traffic, we're late,. The paper cup, foam cup, and travel mug are convenient ways to tote our favorite eye opener beverage through our harried lives. Even when sitting down to drink the hurried cup, the espresso cup itself is white, nothing special. Does it really matter?
A few hundred years ago, the teacup, imported along with tea from China, brought about a revolution in dinning habits. Care had to be taken to drink the hot beverage out of small fragile cups. Tea was expensive and so were the teacups and other plates and teapots that eventually made their way into Europe. Having tea and all things that went with it was a sign of wealth. Knowing how to properly drink tea.and use proper etiquette showed refinement. Soon eating with ones fingers a la Henry VIII, went to eating with forks and knives.
The demitasse (French for half a cup) was designed to hold about 3 ounces of liquid. And even though they may look like small teacups, they were not designed to hold tea but espresso or Turkish coffee, and were to accompany a special desert after a wonderful meal. The fine, but strong, espresso was able to mitigate the rich desert and bring an elegant even opulent end to an evening. The demitasse set itself did not match the china set, but was a different design and often had more shin, more gold, more bling!
Try it, have a meal, with friends, unhurried and then bring out the demitasse with strong espresso and a sweet desert, see what happens.