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A Zarf Is Used To Hold?

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Answer: Coffee Cups

You know that little cardboard sleeve you nest your coffee cup inside to insulate your hand from the heat of the coffee? Not only does that little sleeve have a fancy name, it has a pretty fancy history too.

The sleeve, formally known as a zarf, is the descendent of ornamental coffee cup holders that date all the way back to the thirteenth century. Just like tea in Japan and China was served in handleless cups, coffee was served in small porcelain, glass, or wood cups in Turkey and the surrounding regions. These cups were known asĀ fincan and, to protect the users’ hands, they were nested insideĀ zarfs (a word derived from Arabic, meaning “container or envelope”). These zarfs were typically metal, heavily ornamented, and an integral part of early coffee culture that lives on today, albeit in a much simpler and disposable form, in the sleeves we clad our coffee cups in.

Image courtesy of Calgary Reviews.