Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Appalachian Food

Do You Saucer Your Coffee?

saucered and blowed coffee
saucer noun, verb
B verb To pour (esp coffee) into a saucer to let it cool before drinking.
1981 Whitener Folk-ways 82 Mine’s already been sassered and blowed. 1994-95 Montgomery Coll. (Ogle); He always sassers his coffee so it can be more comfortably drunk (Cardwell).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


My post about chocolate gravy led us to eating bread soaked in coffee which has led us to the tradition of saucering and blowing your coffee to cool it for drinking.

I remember my Great Aunt Pearl sitting at Granny Gazzie’s kitchen table ‘saucer and blowing’ her tea. And I’ve seen Granny saucer and blow her coffee over the years when it was too hot for her. I never seen Pap use a saucer to cool his coffee, although he would often steal a piece of ice from someone’s drink to cool it.

B.Ruth had this to say about the technique for cooling coffee:

“Dad would sometimes dip his biscuit in his hot saucered coffee, maybe that helped cool it off somewhat. Mom just hated when he would saucer and blow his coffee and then slurp it from the saucer! Not that she was so refined, she said the only one left in her family that boiled coffee, saucer, blow and slurp was her aged grandmother before she passed! We finally got some of those green Fire King cups, so Momma’s china cups and saucers went to the back of the cabinet! Oh the memories!”


PinnacleCreek remembered this:

“In those days coffee cups always came with a saucer, and I have seen them drink from the saucer. This was probably due to the coffee was actually boiling hot in those days. Even as a youngster nothing smelled quite as good as the aroma of coffee percolating on the stove.”


Shirla said this:

“Dad always saucered and blowed his strong black coffee. It was brewed on top of a coal stove and got extremely hot.”


ncmountainwoman remembered this:

“My grandpa took his coffee in a big white cup. His saucer was actually a small bowl. He poured the coffee from the cup into it and then sipped it piping hot.”


Charles Fletcher said this:

“Always did this while growing up and especially for the the time in the Army from 1942 –1946 using the Aluminum cups. I did a lot of HUFFING & PUFFING.”


Suzi Phillips said this:

“I still love JFG and I remember being SHOCKED to discover saucering and blowing were “ill mannered”!”


Lois Tootle reminded me of this:

“There was an episode of Gomer Pyle USMC in which Gomer asked a high ranking officer if he would like him to saucer and blow his coffee. The officer replied he hadn’t heard that since he was a young man back home.”


Garland Davis had a so much to say about saucering and blowing your coffee that he wrote a guest post for me a few years back.

Saucered and Blowed written by Garland Davis

I can remember my Granny Salmons, Mama, and various Aunts and Uncles pouring a cup of boiling hot coffee from the pot that sat on Granny’s wood cook stove. They would then pour a little into the saucer, blow on it and then sip it from the saucer. I also remember us kids being given highly sugared white coffee and pouring it into the saucer and blowing it.

I was in third grade where the teacher taught a weekly session on manners. I distinctly remember her saying that no ‘lady or gentleman’ poured their coffee or tea into the saucer. I was actually embarrassed for my family because of this method of drinking coffee. I stopped drinking from the saucer. After we moved from the wood cook stove to the electric range I don’t recall anyone drinking coffee from the saucer.

It was many years later, while reading a novel by the late Robert Heinlein that I came across the term “Saucered and Blowed”. He explained that it was a custom inherited from the Danish, the Scots, the Germans, et. al. He said it grew from the early use of a shallow bowl or ‘saucer’ to drink tea’.

Our pioneer ancestors cooked with wood or coal as fuel. They boiled the coffee and served it boiling hot. One source that I read said, “My Granny served coffee so hot the only reason that it didn’t catch fire was because it was wet.” Pouring the coffee into the saucer created a larger surface area and permitted the coffee to cool to drinking temperature quickly.

In many trades the term “Saucered and Blowed” has come to mean the completion of a job or the thorough study of a problem, as in, “That new manufacturing process is ‘saucered and blowed.’”

That about does it. This article is “Saucered and Blowed.”


I hope you enjoyed all the comments and Garland’s old post. If you have something to say about saucering and blowing coffee or tea I’d love to hear it, so please leave a comment.


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  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    August 23, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for dragging that old story out. I had forgotten writing it…

  • Reply
    S Baker
    July 26, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    My grandfather was born in Edgemont, NC and he did this as well. I always wondered if it was a holdover from floating out the coffee grounds from the cup. He drank from the saucer too so maybe it was just to cool it down.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2018 at 2:23 am

    I had never heard the term, but my 88-year-old mother still does the deed. Every morning I set out her cup and saucer with deep affection and a little smile, knowing that she will pour her coffee into the saucer, blow on it, and slurp it. She has always done this peculiar thing, as we looked on with amusement and curiosity. We call her “Granny” now, though she’s our Mom. She has attained that highest stratum of the social ladder in Appalachia. She is “Granny” and proud of it. She has earned it.

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    February 14, 2017 at 2:43 am

    My Granny always saucered and blowed her coffee. She used a saucer but preferred a very small shallow fruit dish. My Grandpa always ate with a fork and case knife, placing the food on the knife to eat. I loved watching him eat. It was actually very elegant. Red Steagall always ends his show with this phrase.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    February 13, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    I remember someone in Dad’s family doing that long long ago. I can “see” the room we’re sitting in is our maternal Grandma’s kitchen, but I can’t “see” who’s doing it. People on that side of the family were primarily PA Dutch (German), Scottish, British and Native American, so I could see where at least one of them might’ve gotten that custom.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 13, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    to Tamela – Our woodstove (a Rome Eagle-6 eye-with a copper water reservoir) had only one firebox with grates and an ash pan underneath, but there were dampers that controlled where the exhaust heat went. If you opened one, the heat would pass under the stovetop before exiting out the stovepipe. If you opened the other one the heat would pass around the oven first. You could adjust both dampers to get the desired heat to both areas.The two eyes directly over the firebox were hotter and progressively less to the right, so you moved your food to the eye with the appropriate heat. There was also a damper at the left end that controlled the air to the fire and a damper in the back that controlled how the chimney drew. My mother liked to have the right wood also to provide the right heat. Poplar, alder or chestnut for a quick burst for browning, locust or oak for a slow steady heat.
    Cooking on a woodstove is a science that most people nowadays cannot grasp. Me too neither!
    It’s difficult to admit that our parents might have been smarter than we are, but could we survive as well as they did, if placed in their place in time? I know I couldn’t!
    PS: There was a soot rake to keep the passages under the stovetop and around the oven clear and clean!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 13, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    I read Ken’s comment and something struck home. The lucky(?) people relied on coal or wood to keep warm but some of us relied on each other as well. We snuggled! We scrooched! We shared the warmth! I slept with my daddy when I was a small child and then my brother Harold until I was a teenager. We only had to fight the cold from one direction. Daddy had my back! Then Harold when other babies had to be cuddled! It’s not weird. It’s not perverted! It’s survival! It’s what you do! It’s what you have to do!
    Ken and I both have a brother Harold. Both of us depended on our brother Harold for our survival. Ken and I never knew each other growing up but we have a kinship that transcends genetics. Ken’s brother Harold is gone and mine doesn’t know me any more, but they were there when we needed them and we for them. They may choose to forget and deny our heritage but we will never forget. We are proud of who we are and where we came from!

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    February 13, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    I remember this phrase from the time I was a child. I don’t really remember anyone doing that, except for possibly my Grandpa W. He always told the story almost like a joke. In his story someone was late to breakfast and needed to leave in a hurry. Someone at the table would over to give the person their coffee because “It’s done been sauce red and blowed.”

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    February 13, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    This custom is a leftover from the 18 th century when tea and coffee were still somewhat new and cup had no handles, like oriental caps are still shaped. The sauces was really a rather a shallow bowl; people would speak of having a “bowl of tea”. The beverage was poured into the shallow bowl to cool it until it could be drunk comfortably.
    Any interested can look up the story about Washington and Jefferson drinking and talking about whether the new nations government should have one or two houses of legislature. Jefferson preferred having only a House of representatives, Washington thought a Senste necessary. Reportedly Washington asked Jefferson,” Why do you pour your coffee into your saucer?” Jefferson replied, “well, to cool it off of course, so I can drink it!” Washington returned, “That is just the purpose of the more deliberative body of a Senate. It serves to cool off the more hot-headed impulses of the lower House, by slowing and cooling the process”.
    So saucering your drink has old roots, to colonial times.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I recall some of the older folk pouring a little coffee in their saucer but it always seemed they got more on the table cloth than in the sauce – I just don’t recall them sipping (or slurping) from the saucer very often. I also remember seeing lots of coffee in the saucer as a result of dribbles down the side of the coffee cup.
    What had puzzled me about responders to this post is the comments about not being able to control a wood stove. My grandmother in Kansas had firm control over her stove. There were two fireboxes: one under the oven and one under the grates and griddle. Both fireboxes had sliding vents to control air flow. Grandma would first eyeball the flames to determine whether they needed stoking or the vent adjusted; but, before making final adjustments she would stick her arm in the firebox before fine-tuning the fire. I was fascinated by her skill = cakes, meatloafs, oatmeal, pudding, pancakes, whatever she cooked always came out just right.

  • Reply
    Joanne McDonald Nelson
    February 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    This post brings back so many memories of my elders that always saucered and blowed their coffee. We children were given small white cups with a little coffee and the remainder was cream or milk.
    When I read this post it also brought to mind I used to watch several of my elders eat peas, hominy, corn..etc. off the back of a table knife. We called them case knives. Have you ever heard of such in your neck of the woods?
    My family are a few generations away from living in Appalachia, but they sure brought the mountains ways with them to Texas. Many of the old ways are still practiced by me and other family members. It sure warms our hearts to read where others say and do the very things we do. I’ve longed for the mountains and the old ways my entire life.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    We all grew up with a wood cookstove in the kitchen and mama could make a bit pot of coffee in just a few minutes. All of my brothers kept plenty of Laurel split and handy for mama so she could make a fire pretty quick. She made coffee in a 10 or 12 cup percolator and it was really hot. I’ve seen daddy and mama pour coffee into a cup, then pour it out into a saucer to drink. The rest of us drank from a big, white cup kinda like you get in a restaurant. We just had to wait for it to cool a bit.
    We didn’t have insulation in the kitchen and in the Wintertime it was cold. Me and Harold would slide in behind the table on our bench and we’d usually start a fight,
    just to keep warm. But those were the good times and I feel Blessed to have lived in it. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 13, 2017 at 11:57 am

    My folks didn’t saucer and blow. We made “cowboy coffee” and drank it boiling hot. If it was too hot, we either put a spoon in it for a minute or slurped it. I say slurped for lack of a better word. You inhale at the same time you sip. The air you are drawing in mixes with the coffee and cools it sufficiently that it doesn’t burn you. It is similar to the way fancy smancy wine tasters do. If you make the slurping sound, you are trying to drink it too fast.
    My Baptist preacher father-in-law used to saucer and blow. Or rather Bertha, my mother-in-law, actually poured some coffee into the saucer so Clyde only had to blow and slurp.
    While you can drink hot coffee from a cup without slurping too loudly, you can’t drink anything from a saucer without that annoying sound. Unless, you have an awful small saucer or an awful big mouth. As I said, my father-in-law was a Baptist preacher so the latter would apply, but he unashamedly slurped anyway.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    February 13, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I am familiar with saucering and blowing because dad, mom and grand dad often talked about it. There wasn’t a good way to regulate the temperature on a wood stove so it was very hot. We’ve come a long way in modern conveniences. Now I pop a little pod into my coffee maker, push the button and out comes a perfectly brewed cup at just the right temperature. I have an old stove top pot to use if the power goes out. And I have to say, it makes coffee just as well as the new ones.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2017 at 10:22 am

    This is the Appalachianist post I have seen on The Blind Pig, and I often heard it described as “sasserin’ yer coffee.” The spell check police had a field day with that sentence!
    Unfortunately Dad was one to think we should have perfect manners at the table, and he never would permit any of the more enjoyable traditions. Dad still added a cube to his coffee many years later when he ordered from Hardee’s. Saucering coffee was never done at home, but I often saw many of the older generation do this on regular basis. I tried it one time, but found it was easier for my clumsy self to spill the coffee.
    As usual, your posts bring up many almost forgotten memories. When I was a wee one I had spent some time visiting a beloved uncle who slurped his coffee. After several attempts to perfect this skill, I decided to try it out at home. My slurping was stopped immediately even when I proclaimed that Uncle so and so did it. Just goes to show good manners do not always good people make. I agree with Ron that good manners are “a matter of spirit more than actions.” That uncle was such a dear soul with so many good qualities!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    February 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Absolutely! Lots of folks, including my parents, sometimes saucered and blowed their hot coffee. Mama made coffee in an aluminum dripolator pot
    so it wasn’t as hot as perked coffee and thus didn’t need saucering unless someone was in a hurry (something that rarely happened in those days). I still have a collection of pretty china cups and saucers that I use for special occasions, but usually I — and everyone I know — drinks coffee from mugs that don’t have saucers.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I don’t know but I don’t think too many people still do that. I use to see my Mom and her Mom do that. Mamaw made her coffee strong and hot enough to scorch the hide off your tongue. Dad always called it Baptist coffee.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I don’t know but I don’t think too many people still do that. I use to see my Mom and her Mom do that. Mamaw made her coffee strong and hot enough to scorch the hide off your tongue. Dad always called it Baptist coffee.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I don’t know but I don’t think too many people still do that. I use to see my Mom and her Mom do that. Mamaw made her coffee strong and hot enough to scorch the hide off your tongue. Dad always called it Baptist coffee.

    • Reply
      Marianna Riversmerrianno556
      April 29, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Love it. Love it. Love it!!

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    February 13, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I don’t know but I don’t think too many people still do that. I use to see my Mom and her Mom do that. Mamaw made her coffee strong and hot enough to scorch the hide off your tongue. Dad always called it Baptist coffee.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I remember seeing this done, years and years ago, when I forst moved to the mountains from ‘Up North’; ’twas an old man that done it and I though “how odd”. Finally, today, I learned the reason..

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 13, 2017 at 8:32 am

    My grandfather did, only it was Post um. He started drinking it during WWII when coffee was rationed and loved it. I hadn’t thought about this for many years, he also put bread in his Post um for breakfast. For those of you that haven’t heard of Post um, it is a drink made from grain to substitute for coffee, this was because all the real stuff was being sent to the troops.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2017 at 8:23 am

    As soon as I opened my email and saw the question “Do you saucer your coffee?” I had to respond. It immediately brought back memories of my Grandmother in Smithfield, NC who always made her coffee strong and strong black. Then she would pour it from the percolator into a cup, from the cup into a saucer to cool a little and then she would sip it from the saucer. She’s the only person I ever knew to drink her coffee that way. I have many good memories of her but two at the top of my list are how she drank her coffee and her always having a dip of snuff and a coffee can spit cup with her!

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    February 13, 2017 at 8:19 am

    My Father saucer his coffee, but I never have.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 13, 2017 at 7:36 am

    That’s not something I grew up with and I’m not sure why except my parents didn’t do it.
    I do, however, know the expression “saucered and blowed” meaning to raise your children and send them off into the world. I heard this expression a lot about rearing children.

    • Reply
      Marianna Rivers
      April 29, 2020 at 10:27 pm

      That is so quaint. Love it!!

  • Reply
    Candy Davis
    February 13, 2017 at 5:53 am

    My Daddy often ‘saucer and blowed’ his coffee. Mother made coffee in a percolator on the electric stove and, before he went to work, Daddy always had coffee with his breakfast. My mother was not a ‘saucer and blow’ kind of person. She was an ice adder! The leftover coffee was left in the percolator until mother got home from work. If Daddy came home for lunch he would have a cup of cold coffee. Before he went back to work, he would lay down in the middle of the floor in the living room on the rug and take a nap. He was sweaty from work and didn’t want to dirty the bed or couch!

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