A coffee mug for three generations

Along with Bernie Sanders, maple syrup, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Vermont is home to a practical and durable coffee mug that we’ve had in our home since I was a child.

I was thinking about Bennington Potters because our son is taking an elective course in ceramics at Sierra College this semester from Larry Ortiz, a master potter, longtime art instructor and founder of the Arts Council of Placer County. Our son is enjoying Larry’s class, along with his STEM courses.

I recounted to our son that I grew up watching my Mom and Dad drink coffee from the same white “trigger mugs” from Bennington Potters that we still use at home. It was a happy childhood memory — on Christmas morning and most mornings.

I inherited Dad’s mug when he passed away, and I enjoy drinking coffee (from Carolines) or green tea from it — largely because of the memories. I’ve added to the collection, and now our son drinks hot chocolate out of his own white trigger mug.

“The 1948 beginning of Bennington Potters happened in an old barn,” according to Bennington Potter’s history. “David Gil, founder and owner operator from 1948 through 2002, was determined to design and bring to market beautiful, well-made ceramics in a production context.”

Bennington Potters has become one of the nation’s most famous pottery studios. It now sells more than 55,000 pieces of pottery annually — even the Obamas have some. The kilns use a fireproof coating once used on NASA rockets, and temperatures can reach 2200 degrees.

I’ve added to my coffee mug collection; another favorite was made for Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co. by Sweetland Pottery. A video explains the process at Bennington Potters:


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

2 thoughts on “A coffee mug for three generations”

  1. Thanks for the interesting recollections and the fascinating video. I’m gonna put a visit to the Bennington Potters workshop on my wish-list for the next time we visit our daughter Laura and her husband in Boston (along with a visit to King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt., since Laura and I have recently developed a mutual interest in artisanal bread baking). The distance between their home, Bennington Potters and King Arthur Flour is about the same as the distance from us to the Bay Area). Crafts are a great antidote for the nausea caused by politics and the anxiety caused by looming pandemics, etc! 🙂

    1. Don, Great idea! When I went to Washington D.C. for grad school at Northwestern, I toured Vermont with a friend on one of the school breaks — my first trip to New England. Another stop might be Sugarbush Farm, not far from Norwich, VT. We’ve been ordering their cheeses and maple syrup since I was a child. On that trip, we met the owner Betsy Luce, and she had our name on an index card in a box on her desk, along with all the other customers. It was “old school,” to be sure: A third-generation family farm. https://sugarbushfarm.com/

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