- If you have a cup or more of coffee or tea every day, it's worth investing in a quality mug.
- Le Creuset's stoneware mug is our top choice for its durability and array of color options.
If you have a cup of coffee or tea daily, but still tend to reach for an old mug you got for free several years ago, it's probably time for an upgrade. A quality coffee mug can make all the difference and is a worthy investment, especially if you tend to pour several refills per day. Which, it turns out, most of us do. According to a 2020 survey conducted by the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers in the United States consume an average of 3.2 cups a day. And that doesn't even include all the tea and hot cocoa drinkers who make up a significant share of mug users.
A good coffee mug is admittedly subjective, especially when it comes to look and feel. However, there are few key criteria we looked at when researching and testing our picks for the best coffee mug, including durability, heat retention, dishwasher safety, and price.
Here are the best coffee mugs of 2021
- Best overall: Le Creuset Mug
- Best travel mug: Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug
- Best smart mug: Ember Temperature Control Ceramic Mug 2
- Best for brewing on the go: Espro Travel Coffee Press
- Best set: Set of four Serami Classic Diner Mugs
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.
Pros: A durable, dishwasher safe, stoneware mug from one of the kitchen world's most respected brands
Cons: A full set can be expensive
Le Creuset has been a giant in the cookware industry for nearly a century — and a favorite among the Insider Reviews 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 four that takes some of the sting out of the cost. — Jen GushueThe best travel mug
The Zojirushi SM-SE Travel Mug keeps both hot and cold drinks at enjoyable temperatures for hours longer than the competition, and its lockable lid ensures it's truly leak-proof.
Pros: Best temperature retention by far, lid is easy to clean, leak-proof locking lid, one-handed operation, five-year warranty on the vacuum insulation
Cons: Not dishwasher safe, won't fit large ice cubes, will rattle around in cupholders
The Zojirushi SM-SE Travel Mug is, without a doubt, the best travel mug you can buy. Yes, that's a bold statement, but we've got the data to back it up.
Based on our test, the Zojirushi mug was able to keep coffee hot for 14 hours, which was an impressive five hours longer than the next-best mug we tested. And it's not just for hot beverages either. It kept ice frozen for seven hours — which was a solid hour and a half longer than the next best mug.
Beyond its insulation features, it also features a spring-loaded, push-button lid that flips open to a well-sized drinking spout. When closed, it's leak-proof, and it even has a handy switch at the base of the lid that locks it shut so you can confidently toss it in your bag.
The lid easily disassembles for a thorough cleaning, though unfortunately, you will have to do that by hand. Zojirushi also offers a five-year warranty on the vacuum insulation, so if your mug ever loses its ability to retain temperature, Zojirushi will replace it. — Jen Gushue
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.
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
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 Reviews 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 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 10-ounce version and a travel mug. — Erin MayerThe best for brewing on the go
Brew your coffee on the go with the Espro Travel Coffee Press.
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
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 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 Reviews 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 MayerThe best set
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.
Pros: Affordable and heavy duty
Cons: Small capacity means getting up to refill more often
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 GushueMore great drink holder guides