A Kuksa i.e. a wooden cup may have caught your attention in my Instagram posts and made you wonder what the story is with it. It’s one of my travel essentials along with the Nikon DSLR camera and the Heli MG Eco Faux Fur accessories that I’m carrying with me anywhere I go; skiing-holidays, hiking, city-breaks, family-visits, etc. - not forgetting the beach-holidays!
The Kuksa pictured is a very special one as it was hand-carved for me by my late Dad who was a highly skilled carpenter and traditional craftsman. The two of us having an equal enthusiasm for all outdoors he knew I would use it lots. So he picked the best birch burl from the collection of non-commercial logs he had put aside for his crafts projects during the forest thinning. In the dark autumn evenings when he couldn’t really do much else and it wasn’t too cold yet he pulled himself into his workshop for hours and carved the burl into a forever-lasting travel mug. It was handed to me as a Christmas present. - So right he was! Not any minute of love and effort that was put into making it has been wasted! While the lightweight, durable and self-cleaning wooden Kuksa makes - simply for practical reasons - a great companion for any outdoors every time I’m using mine his memory is also joining the party. Which there have been plenty of throughout the 10+ years I’ve owned it. Those are, among others, Champagne toast in the garden of a French castle, red wine tasting in a campsite in Kilkenny, open fire pot coffee breaks in the Nuuksio National Park, … to mention just a couple.
For those who are not familiar with the wooden Kuksa cup a brief introduction follows now:
No doubt, sourced right, the Kuksa cup is the most ecological travel/ take-away mug ever. Traditionally, throughout the times, it’s been carried by the hunters and fishermen in the Nordic wilderness. Additionally it makes a grand mate for any outdoor enthusiast and worker travelling light. - Not a service station or a coffee shop would refuse to fill it up for you for your take-away if you just ask.
The Kuksas are carved most commonly from the birch burl. When in making it’s boiled in the salt water. The right salt balance relieves the tensions in the wood and prevents it splitting later on in use, including touch with boiling hot water in frosty temperatures, etc. When the carving is completed the cup is rinsed with a drop of warm coffee to remove the excessive salt off its surfaces. At this stage, should one still taste too much salt on it and want to make any changes regards to it a quick rinse on the inside with the tiniest drop of strong alcohol does the job. Dried properly after the alcohol treatment the Kuksa is rubbed all over with the used, damp coffee grains for the waterproof finish. This treatment also gives the wood a nice colour. Let settle for a month or so one can drink - and eat - anything from it.
Wood having antibacterial properties and killing off the bacteria on itself the real wooden Kuksa doesn’t need to be washed after use. So contrary to popular belief a rinse with alcohol after the use is not recommended. Just a splash of spring/ mountain river water to clean it is fine. It dries best hanging on the hiker’s rucksack during the leg to the next stop. Not in any circumstances the Kuksa should be washed with washing liquid or in the dishwasher as the wood absorbs the chemicals permanently which guaranteed ruins the on coming user experience.
Like the Eco Faux Furs, treated right the genuine hand-crafted wooden Kuksa cup makes a lifetime companion. Should you plan getting one for yourself make sure you don’t pick the cheap one from a low-cost chain or a department store. The very best Kuksas come directly from the trained makers whose price for the item may sound high, however it’s very fair for the amount of work and time put into making them and the skill and knowledge required. - Hesitating still this may help; if the total cost is split in the amount of days one gets use out of the high quality item, the daily cost is very nearly nothing!
My Kuksa was made for me as a present meaning I didn’t pay for it. However, anything I need I rather pay a fair price for the item/service knowing the money goes directly to the maker who genuinely can take pride in the quality he/she provides.
The fashion revolution 2019 campaign is at the door. At the same time it would be really good to extend the question Who made my clothes? to all design - and very importantly, forget not to review our own buying habits, too. - What do you think? Please comment my related Instagram post.