Coffee Jousting

Photograph courtesy of Bita Mills

Hailing from the north of England as I do, I’m somewhat empathic when it comes to the working class person, being one myself. Therefore I was interested to learn about the new game that has been created by Leeds Steampunk Market organisers.

According to Jo Burgoyne-Neal – the LSM head honcho – Coffee Jousting came about because the winner of the October 2014 tea duelling contest asked to be part of the Lincoln Tea Duelling finals. However, because the match hadn’t been registered with the VSS who are the original creators of Tea Duelling, the winner wasn’t permitted to participate. At LSM, they found it all a bit too serious and I’m inclined to agree. If we strip the bare bones of steampunk back, we’re a bunch of people strolling around in funny hats being extra nice to one another. It’s not a serious event that requires policing or any form of legislation, so why are strict rules being put in place for a bonkers game where people are essentially dunking biscuits against one another?

It could be because the people who invented it want it to have these rules and that’s up to them. It’s entirely possible that this stemmed from such issues as a certain American author proclaiming himself “World Tea Duelling Champion” without considering the implications or consequences for such a title. Having never entered a UK Tea Duelling contest it’s hard to see how a person can deem themselves better than anyone else in the World. Although it’s worked for Baseball for over a hundred years. For anyone about to leave a comment about the World Series being named after the New York World newspaper, that’s been a disproved theory which you’re welcome to read here: Why is the Baseball Championship called the World Series? It would seem that the Americans were in fact as egotistical as the name suggests.

Getting back to the Coffee Jousting and when Jo and Si heard about the bad news from VSS, they decided that they’d take away the seriousness that has seemingly befallen Tea Duelling and introduced Coffee Jousting. The rules are pretty much the opposite of Tea Duelling in every way, even down to dunking one’s biscuit in the other person’s coffee. Below are the rules which shall be replicated on their own page:

  1. We have coffee not tea
  2. No milk to be added as it will affect the temperature
  3. Served in mugs not cups and saucers
  4. Biscuit to be used is the very delicate”Nice” biscuits
  5. Biscuit is to be dunked in your opponent’s mug, not your own
  6. Held for count of 3 not 5
  7. No chairs to sit on – you remain standing

4 thoughts on “Coffee Jousting

  1. Interesting…

    The last tea duel I helped run (as pot master) also used mugs and we adopted a count of 3 due to atmospheric conditions (it was a rather moist day!). Nice biscuits are an acceptable substitution and milk, while sometimes available, is in fact rarely used.

    So, aside from the need to remain standing (which, arguably, discriminates against those who are wheelchair-bound), the substitution of tea with coffee and the dunking into your opponents’ vessel, they are basically the same? The skill/nerve/luck remains, as does the risk of splash, splat or slodge!

    The sole reason for pre-registering a duel with the VSS is because the winner of a registered tea-duel, in addition to the kudos of the win, also is sent a complimentary day pass for the Lincoln steampunk festival to enable them to compete in the national finals.

    Aside from that need, the ‘rules’ are freely available to all and yes, they are noticably silly, isn’t that the point? It is a fun sport, practised and played by young and old, lady and gent, able and lesser-abled, northener and southener, etc, etc.

  2. Yes, to those who know no better, the vss asking that you register could seem a bit odd. However, take one minute to consider matters though. My local steampunk group posted on our facebook site (other social media are available) the results of a tea duelling competition and received a post from the vss asking us to register the winner if they wished to take part that year at the Asylum ( in short, they said send an e.mail). OK, sounds a bit over the top for a fun sport, but when you promote a popular event like the Asylum with two thousand plus persons attending (may be more, I don’t stand around counting) doesn’t it make sense having a pre registration rule? Otherwise, everyone attending could call out ‘I’ve won a tea duel and so has my *wife’, with the resulting competition taking hours/days to complete. (*different significant others are available.). That’s how I see it, anyway. Oh, and with the way my knees have been, lately, I really can’t stand for long periods, so coffee jousting rather precludes me from joining in. Shame that. Won’t be seeing this as a demonstration sport in the coming Paralympics.

  3. They’re all valid points you’ve both made. I spoke to the LSM organisers and they clarified that the standing up rule came about because – ironically – a contestant on crutches couldn’t sit and asked to stand. I did consider the issue with people claiming that they’d falsely won a competition, but I wonder how many steampunks, being jolly decent fellows that we all are, would actually do that?

    1. Speaking as a co-conspirator in the concept of “Coffee Jousting” I’d just like to clarify that we (as it’s masterminds) don’t really care whether anyone stands, sits, hops on the spot, or rides a unicylce while they do it…. It’s just for fun…it is not to be taken seriously… and should leave everyone giggling afterwards. We welcome any and everyone to both take part and / or mutilate it’s rules for the purposes of fun as they see fit at their own discretion…

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