- No matter how groggy they are in the morning, everyone’s got their favorite mug they reach for to drink their perfect cup of coffee.
- Our favorite is Le Creuset’s classic stoneware mug. An iconic, strong mug from a brand with a superlative kitchenware reputation.
According to a survey conducted by the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers in the United States consume an average of 3.2 cups a day – that’s over 1,100 cups of coffee per year. With coffee being the second most popular drink in America – behind only bottled water – we all should have sturdy coffee mugs from which to consume all those dark roasts, lattes, mochas, and decafs. That’s not to leave out all the tea and hot chocolate drinkers who also make up a significant share of hot-beverage consumers.
Though a good coffee mug can be a pretty subjective thing – you might be convinced that your “World’s Okayest Dad” mug is the best mug in the world – there were a few criteria we looked at when researching and testing our picks for the best mug. We considered durability, heat retention, dishwasher safety, and price when ranking our top choices.
Here are the best coffee mugs you can buy:
- Best mug overall: Le Creuset Mug
- Best travel mug: Autoseal West Loop Insulated Travel Mug
- Best smart mug: Ember Temperature Control Ceramic Mug 2
- Best mug for brewing on the go: Espro Travel Coffee Press
- Best set of mugs: Set of four Serami Classic Diner Mugs
Updated on 12/16/2019 by Jen Gushue: Updated picks for overall, travel, mug set.
The best mug overall
- Le Creuset
Le Creuset’s mug is a classic piece of kitchenware that will last through many, many cups of coffee, trips through the dishwasher, and spins in the microwave, thanks to its thick stoneware construction.
Le Creuset has been a giant in the cookware industry for nearly a century – and a favorite among the Insider Picks team. Though most famous for their enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, Le Creuset has expanded into all sorts of kitchenware, from nonstick pans and ramekins to our top pick for the best mug you can buy.
We love Le Creuset’s mug not only for its aesthetic – it’s available in many colors, all of which have that signature Le Creuset ombré and three stripes at the bottom – but more importantly, we love it for its durability.
The mugs are made of thick stoneware – a type of ceramic fired at a high temperature with glass added for strength. They are coated with Le Creuset’s standard high-quality enamel glaze that prevents scratching and resists staining – a hugely important quality for a coffee or tea mug. Weaker mugs quickly take on a permanent brown ring on the inside if you let your coffee sit for too long, but not a Le Creuset mug.
I frequent a restaurant in Manhattan that uses Le Creuset mugs as part of its standard serving set, and even after countless cups of tea and coffee, I’ve never encountered one that was stained or discolored by the notoriously acidic drink.
The fact that a restaurant uses these mugs is also a testament to their durability. The thick stoneware is resistant to chips and cracks, and while it’s not drop-proof by any means, an occasional bump off a desk or a fall onto the carpet, likely won’t spell doom for your Le Creuset mug.
Though Le Creuset has a reputation for its high price tag, their mugs are relatively affordable if you’re just buying a couple or snagging one to be your desk mug at work. If you’re going to buy a full set, you might find yourself running up a significant tab, but Le Creuset does offer a set of six that takes some of the sting out of the cost. – Jen Gushue
Pros: A durable, dishwasher safe, stoneware mug from one of the kitchen world’s most respected brands
Cons: A full set can be expensive, not made in France
The best travel mug
The Contigo Autoseal West Loop travel mug stays sealed thanks to its locking lid and push-button spout that closes automatically when you’re not drinking, and it’s a great budget option that tops our list.
The Autoseal West Loop from Contigo ticks all the boxes when it comes to a great travel mug – so much so that it’s our top pick among all travel mugs we tested. It fits perfectly in most cup holders, its automatically sealing spout won’t leak, and it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for hours at a time thanks to its double-walled vacuum insulation. Its 20-ounce capacity is equal to a Starbucks Venti, so it’ll get you plenty caffeinated as you make your way to work in the morning or survive the drop-off line at your child’s school.
Our favorite feature of the mug is right in its name – the Autoseal. The lid stays securely shut the entire time unless you push a button that opens the spout to allow you to drink your coffee. When you’re done drinking, simply let go of the button and the mug will automatically seal itself back up. If you’re jostled while drinking and accidentally lose your grip, the Autoseal mechanism will ensure there’s no major spillage, preserving both your outfit and your drink.
It’s a great option for the price, coming in under many other options on the market, but users have experienced some denting if dropped. The plastic lid is also prone to wearing out over time, leading to some leakage once the seal loses some of its strength. – Jen Gushue
Pros: Fits in cupholders, keeps drinks to temperature, spill-proof
Cons: Plastic lids wear out over time, dents when dropped
The best smart mug
Nothing ruins the coffee experience like a cup going lukewarm too fast. The Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug 2 eliminates the problem by keeping a drink warm, and at the optimal temperature.
One of the more annoying things about me is that I am a very slow coffee drinker but also cannot tolerate it dipping below steaming temperatures. If it’s not cold brew, it needs to be hot. But regular mugs don’t keep liquids at high temperatures for very long because of, well, science. As a result, I microwave the same coffee over and over again until it probably isn’t even really coffee anymore.
That’s why I’m convinced the Ember was made for me. It’s an electronic coffee mug that keeps your liquids at the ideal temperature for as long as you’re drinking them. The mug is rechargeable via a coaster that doubles as a charging station. If you remove the mug from the coaster it will still keep your beverage hot for up to an hour; keep it on the coaster and it will stay warm for as long as it’s full.
The mug can detect the amount of liquid in the mug, the temperature of the liquid, and knows when you’ve finished your drink – at which point it will shut itself off. You can adjust the temperature in either Fahrenheit or Celsius and create presets for different drinks using the Ember app.
According to Les Shu, Insider Picks Guides Editor, the mug is brilliant at keeping coffee or tea hot, but not too hot that it isn’t drinkable. It’s durable, but it’s definitely not dishwasher safe, due to all its internal tech. The app works well, but because it uses Bluetooth, your phone needs to be nearby if you wish to make any settings adjustments. One disappointment he noticed is that if a drink is left in the cup for too long, the milk develops a film on the surface.
The major downside is the price which, at $99.95, is steep for a mug. Some customers also complained about the inside of the mug breaking down quickly, but Ember does have a 30-day money-back guarantee that should take care of any initial quality issues. Ember also offers a 14-ounce version and a travel mug. – Erin Mayer
Pros: Keeps coffee or tea hot for up to an hour when fully charged (longer when sitting on the charging station), app allows you to control it remotely and preset preferences, modern design
Cons: Price is high for a mug, not dishwasher safe, constant warming may curdle dairy
The best mug for brewing on the go
Brew your coffee on the go with the Espro Travel Coffee Press.
Have you ever wished you could brew coffee from your travel mug? The Espro Travel Coffee Press is exactly what the name suggests: a travel mug that has a French press mechanism under the lid.
But the product is actually multi-functional and can be used as both a French press and to make pour-over coffee with an additional paper filter. There’s also a tea strainer filter available if you’re a loose-leaf tea drinker.
Insider Picks reviewed the Espro Travel Press in its own dedicated review. “While my biggest concern with the unit was its ability to filter out the coffee grounds, I was surprised to find that my coffee had less sediment in it than when I use my actual French press,” said Insider Picks writer Tyler Lauletta.
Lauletta noted that while it brewed a nice cup of coffee, it only held about 12-ounces of liquid and the French press apparatus made it difficult to add any dairy or sweetener. – Erin Mayer
Pros: Lets you brew coffee on the go, available attachments lets you brew tea strainer, can make pour-over coffee, doesn’t spill
Cons: French press makes it hard to add milk or sugar to coffee straight into the mug
The best set of mugs
This set of four Serami Classic Diner Mugs will last you nearly forever thanks to their extra thick chip-proof construction, inspired by the classic diner design. Plus, they won’t break the bank.
My kitchen has a hodgepodge of different mugs I’ve collected over the years, and not a single one matches. If you prefer to have a matching set of mugs to keep your kitchen looking clean and organized, we recommend this set of four Serami Classic Diner Mugs.
Inspired by the classically designed mug you might find at your local greasy spoon, these mugs are made of heavy-duty ceramic, designed to withstand all the clanking, dropping, and abuse that comes from life in a fast-paced quick-serve establishment. By no means are they indestructible, but if they can withstand being tossed into a bus tub of dirty dishes, they can survive your kitchen.
The thick ceramic also helps to insulate hot beverages. According to Thermtest Industries, an organization dedicated strictly to the measurement of thermal conductivity, ceramic is one of the best materials for your mug to be constructed from. It holds onto heat well, maintaining the temperature of your coffee rather than letting heat escape.
The only downside to this mug is its small capacity at just 11 ounces, one ounce less than a Starbucks tall coffee. If you’ve ever had a cup of coffee at a diner, you’ll understand that these mugs need to be refilled often. Though, you could always use it as an excuse to get up from your desk and give your brain a break while you refuel. – Jen Gushue
Pros: Affordable and heavy duty
Cons: Small capacity means getting up to refill more often