Saturday, July 06, 2013

Say What?

Walked into one of my local coffee shops the other day and looked up at their trivia question.

  • What is the sleeve around hot coffee cups called?
Well, one of the options was the obvious
  • sleeve.
Sometimes they have a super easy answer like that; you know, who's buried in Grant's Tomb-kind of thing. Not this time.

One of the other answers was an odd sounding one:
  • zarf.
Yep. That was the answer. I thought sure it was a made-up word that someone decided for some odd reason or another.

So I Googled it and was truly enlightened. Here, from good, old Wikipedia:
Although coffee was probably discovered in Ethiopia, it was in Turkey at around the thirteenth century that it became popular as a beverage. As with the serving of tea in China and Japan, the serving of coffee in Turkey was a complex, ritualized process. It was served in small cups without handles (known as fincan), which were placed in holders known as zarf (from the Arabic word ظرف ẓarf, meaning container, envelope) to protect the cup and also the fingers of the drinker from the hot liquid. Cups were typically made of porcelain, but also of glass and wood. However, because it was the holder that was more visible, it was typically more heavily ornamented.
I should have known better than to wonder where a word came from. It's always interesting when you discover a truly ancient word still around and being mentioned in a local coffee shop.

By the way, one fun bit was that on the first Wikipedia page I went to (Coffee cup sleeve) had a picture from my favorite coffee shop chain, Minnesota's own Caribou Coffee!

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