I always wondered, does coffee taste better when it is served in a ceramic or glass cup? does it matter if it is quality Italian ceramic or made in china? does it matter if the cup is preheated? does it matter if my coffee is served in a takeaway cup? what about the takeaway cup lid, does that matter? What about a re-usable takeaway cup?
Well, after bouncing off the walls, I'm here to tell you that it does matter. Pre-warmed cups have allowed me to lower the temperature of the milk being added to an espresso base for my flat white coffees (I used to over compensate the temperature, unintentionally). Lowering the milk temperature has created a more velvety smooth texture to the coffee.
Does it matter if it is served in quality italian ceramic over a cheap ikea knock-off? well, that is debatable, but I can say that the cheap stuff just does not last. I have some cafe customers with ACF and IPA branded Italian cups and after years of use, they are still good as new, giving every customer a great experience. In contrast, a cheap knock off will be displaying discoloration, perhaps a chip in the rim or something else that detracts from your great coffee. Those things are not as important at home, since they will most likely cop much less abuse, but if you can afford the extra investment, I think they are worth it.
Take away cups - hmm.. This is a tough one, but beggars cant be choosers. I think in this case, the experience can be influenced by the quality of the lid - yes, the lid. If you think about it, its the touch points that matter most. Just like the feel of a prewarmed Italian ceramic cup in your hand matters, so does the feel of the takeaway coffee cup lid. Just imagine for a moment, a coffee purchased at a chain store (bleh!), we've all done it, but do you remember that feeling of the sharp edge of the pouring spout against your lip? its distracting at best. I often take the lid off if I can to enjoy the aroma a little more and the bonus is, I dont have the lid to distract me, (don't try this at 80km/h)!
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference - that is the beauty here. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy YOUR coffee.