Mochaware is a type of utilitarian pottery decorated with coloured slip bands on a white and buff-colored body. It has branching markings resembling the natural geological markings on moss agate, which was called “mocha stone” because it was imported from the port of Mocha in Yemen. (Mocha coffee came from the same port.)
Mocha decoration is made by dripping a coloured acidic solution into wet alkaline slip. This produces random marking resembling mocha stone.
Mochaware has been manufactured in England since the 1790s. Most British mochaware had a white base and was produced for export, particularly to France and the United States.
From the mid-nineteenth century, the United States began producing its own mochaware for local use. Most American mochaware has a yellow or buff-coloured body, with broad white slip bands on which the branching marking appear.
Because mochaware was the cheapest decorated pottery, it was commonly used in poorer homes, taverns and even in slave quarters. Because it was not highly valued, relatively little old mochaware has survived.