The most common coaster used in a restaurant is a napkin. This disposable option gets the job done, protecting the surface below from moisture, sort of. It is true that most of the moisture will seep down through the paper to touch the table, and that in fact the napkin will hold that moisture directly on the surface even more than if it wasn’t there. But at least it makes it easier for the waiter to remove all of that moisture, which is stuck in one place, once the beverage is empty.
However the one thing that a napkin coaster conveys to a customer is cheapness. It is obvious that a napkin is the least expensive, easiest, and least thoughtful way to present a drink. The customer can tell that right away.
Besides the napkin tends to stick to the bottom of the glass and it gets all nasty and wet right there in front of them. It is really a bit of a mess.
Higher end bars and restaurants will often break with this practice, providing coasters made from real solid materials, and often matching the theme of the rest of the restaurant.
An example would be a restaurant that featured a sleek, modern design, supplying customers with coasters made from some sort of stainless steal. Glass is another coaster material that would work in sleek, high end decorative locations.
A more rustic restaurant, like a bistro, or a ski resort tavern, can feature coasters that are more associated with the earth, and nature. This can include slate and natural stone coasters, as well as coasters made from thatch, whicker, or certain cloth materials.
Printed coasters are another way to use these functional pieces to elevate rather than detract from the ambiance of the space. Printing can be done on a variety of coaster materials including cork, hardwood, and absorbent sandstone coasters.
Some manufacturers offer custom printing of the image of your choice, although with higher end products such as glass, or sandstone, this will require a significant investment. For a fraction of the cost you can purchase sets of coasters that are pre-printed with images of art, designs, historical events, landmarks, or even ambiance impressions. In this way you can browse through hundreds of pre-printed art designs to choose a piece which matches the ambiance of your establishment perfectly.
One thing that you don’t want to overlook when deciding on coasters for your restaurant is the functionality of the pieces which you choose. One of the problems with paper coasters is that they get soggy, and nasty, and stick to the bottom of glasses. Make sure that you know the ins and outs of the coasters before you purchase them.
Cheaper cardboard and cork coasters will have the same problem as napkins, getting nasty and falling apart.
Glass and hardwood coasters are good, if they have a lip which holds moisture in. Otherwise the glass will slide around on the non absorbent coasters, and can slip off making for messes.
Most stone coasters will absorb moisture and have traction, so they don’t have to have a lip. However the level of absorption will vary, with sandstone being the most absorbent, and slate and travertine being less absorbent. Marble and gemstone will not absorb at all.
The coasters that you choose to display in your restaurant bar, or tavern, may seem like a small and inconsequential detail. However it is those details that customers will judge the quality of your establishment based on. That is why you should take some time, and contemplate the exact nature of the coasters that you want to display to them.