A coaster, drink coaster, beverage coaster, or beermat is an item used to rest drinks upon, protecting the surface of the table or bar top. A coaster placed on the top of a drinking glass can show that it is not finished and protects from contamination, like insects.
The first coasters were designed for decanters or wine bottles so that they could be slid (or “coasted”) around the dinner table after the servants had retired. Common in use after about 1760, early coasters took the form of a shallow tray or dish made of wood, paper-mâché, silver, or silver plate.
The first beer mats made of cardboard were introduced by Friedrich Horn, the German printing company, in 1880. Robert Sputh of Dresden manufactured the first beermat made of wood pulp two years later.
Watney brewery introduced them to the United Kingdom in 1920 to advertise their pale ale. The packaging company Quarmby Promotions, established in 1872, began manufacturing beermats in Milnsbridge in 1931. After Quarmby Promotions was taken over by the Katz Group, it moved production to Brighouse and in 2006 to Morley, West Yorkshire, before closing its production in 2009.
Saucers are also long used in western culture for much the same purpose. My mother used to always drink her coffee from a cup and saucer when I was a child. When drinking tea, it is customary to use a cup and saucer set.
High grammage (mass per number of sheets) paperboard is often the material of choice for coasters. Sometimes they are manufactured with several layers of tissue paper. Other materials are soapstone, metal, wood, and silicone. With beer mats, they are looking for water absorbency, wet rub, and printability. Now, the process of making coasters has been refined, allowing for printing in small batches and even recycling.
Other materials are fabric, leather, cork, ceramic, marble, and sandstone. I’ve even made coasters from old album centers that are coated with polyurethane.
- A decanter is a vessel that is used to hold the decantation of a liquid (such as wine) that may contain sediment. Decanters, which have varied shapes and designs, have been traditionally made from glass or crystal. Their volume is usually equivalent to one standard bottle of wine (0.75 liters). A carafe, which is also traditionally used for serving alcoholic beverages, is similar in design to a decanter but is not supplied with a stopper. Decantation is a process for the separation of mixtures of immiscible liquids or of a liquid and a solid mixture such as a suspension. The layer closer to the top of the container—the less dense of the two liquids, or the liquid from which the precipitate or sediment has settled out—is poured off, leaving the other component or the denser liquid of the mixture behind. An incomplete separation is witnessed during the separation of two immiscible liquids. To put it in a simple way, decantation is separating immiscible materials by transferring the top layer to another container. The process does not provide an accurate or pure product. [Back]
- Paperboard is a thick paper-based material. While there is no rigid differentiation between paper and paperboard, paperboard is generally thicker (usually over 0.30 mm, 0.012 in, or 12 points) than paper and has certain superior attributes such as foldability and rigidity. According to ISO standards, paperboard is paper with a grammage above 250 g/m2, but there are exceptions. Paperboard can be single- or multi-ply. Paperboard can be easily cut and formed, is lightweight, and because it is strong, is used in packaging. Another end-use is high-quality graphic printing, such as book and magazine covers or postcards. Paperboard is also used in fine arts for creating sculptures. Sometimes it is referred to as cardboard, which is a generic, lay term used to refer to any heavy paper pulp–based board, however, this usage is deprecated in the paper, printing, and packaging industries as it does not adequately describe each product type. [Back]