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17 Different Types of Coffee Mugs and Cups for Each Situation

There is a coffee mug for each situation you can imagine. Whether you need one to keep your coffee warm on a camping trip or a cool mug to take to work, you’ll surely find plenty of options. But their special purpose isn’t the only thing that sets different types of coffee mugs apart.

They can be categorized by materials, type of coffee they hold, or, for example, the number of walls they have (single or double). Needless to say, each mug type has a particular purpose and comes with a distinct set of features.

Types of Coffee Mugs: The Ultimate Rundown

Now, let's take a quick look at many different coffee mug types. We categorized them according to intended use, materials. and special functions.

a clear cup as one of the different types of coffee mugs

Intended Use

1. Classic Mug

These mugs hold about 8oz of liquid and are usually made of glass or porcelain. They have the same size base and lid, but the handle is the one thing that makes the difference. For example, glass mugs may have a very small handle, which could make them awkward to hold.

Be careful with the choice of materials. Some retain the heat and flavors of coffee much better than others.

2. Travel Mug

Given the number of available models, choosing the best travel coffee mug that suits your taste can be tricky. However, heat retention properties and a snug seal are the most important characteristics. On top of that, you should also consider picking up one that’s dishwasher-ready.

3. Demitasse

To make things clear, a demitasse is another name for an espresso cup. These shouldn’t have any decoration on the inside and their top capacity caps at 3.4oz. The important thing is to choose a thicker-walled espresso cups to retain the optimal heat.

4. Tumbler

Tumblers combine the best properties of travel and classic mugs. They feature the shape of a classic mug but are usually much taller and easily fit inside a cup holder. Tumblers are an excellent choice if you need a mug/cup that can retain heat for a long time. (1)

Materials

1. Ceramic

Ceramic mugs are great because they usually last long and evenly distribute heat. Plus, there’s an incredible variety of styles and shapes to choose from. What’s more, you can put a ceramic mug in the dishwasher worry-free.

2. Glass

Like ceramic, glass cups/mugs are stylish and there are plenty of options to choose from. They have great heat retention properties but can be prone to chipping and cracks if dropped.

3. Stoneware

Albeit not that popular, stoneware is durable, long-lasting, and has a special look to it. In addition, the material allows for super easy maintenance. You can just wipe off the coffee ring before you wash this mug.

4. Stainless Steel

Most commonly, stainless steel is used in travel coffee mugs. These also come with a lid that ensures there are no spills and sometimes a handle for added convenience.

“There’s two big questions when you are talking about a thermal mug. How long does it keep your coffee hot… and how long does it take to cool off so you can drink it?” – Will Smith, Tested

5. China

Since the times of the Ming Dynasty, Chinese pottery has been unrivaled in terms of looks and quality (2). But despite its charm and collectability, China has one major downside. It requires special care and maintenance because the material is so fragile.

6. Melamine

This man-made material has a lot of upsides. It retains heat well, melamine cups are dishwasher-ready, and it is the most affordable of the bunch. However, you shouldn’t reheat melamine cups with your coffee inside as you could damage them over time. (3)

Based on testing, glass mugs retain the heat for the longest time. Ceramic and steel mugs take the second and third place respectively.

Special Function

1. Pour Over

As the name suggests, pour over cups are designed for this type of coffee. And what’s best about it is that the brewing happens in the cup itself.

2. Novelty

This type encompasses all the quirky coffee cup types that have been trending online. You’ve probably already seen the camera-lens or self-stirring cups. They both fall into this category.

3. Double-Walled

Since there is no handle, double-walled coffee cups sport a sleek look, but they don’t get too hot to hold. If you choose a clear double-walled cup, there is an interesting optical illusion of coffee floating inside.

4. Vintage

Coffee mugs that were made in the 1950s or earlier belong in the vintage category. These are collectable and can look pretty, but watch out for tiny fractures and make sure the material is safe to use.

5. Cup + Snack Tray

Snack tray is much bigger than the usual coffee cup saucer. On the upside, you only need one hand to hold both the snack and the coffee. However, these coffee and snack combos tend to be in the upper price range.

6. Gold-Plated

Want a cup that’s worthy of royalty? If so, a gold-plated set is an absolute must. This type of cups is fairly durable, but you should hand-wash them to keep the plating intact.

7. Personalized Mugs

There’s nothing like a custom mug that features a unique design which makes your coffee drinking experience special. Today, you can customize almost any mug or cup regardless of the material or type.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In addition to the types from this article, there are also disposable coffee cups, which are commonly used in today's fast-paced world. Did you know that 70% of disposable foam cups in the world come from one company? Dart Container Corporation is the undisputed leader of the disposables industry.

Disposable cups may be a good option if you’re often on the go, but they aren’t necessarily eco-friendly. If you’re serious about enjoying your coffee and care for the environment, one of the permanent, reusable mugs from this article is a better solution. We also reviewed the best coffee mugs to help you narrow down your choices.

FAQs

Do ceramic mugs keep coffee hot?

Yes, ceramic mugs keep your coffee hot. However, the heat retention properties may differ based on the mug type and its thickness.

Are glass coffee mugs safe?

Glass coffee mugs are safe, provided they don’t contain any toxic materials. The usual culprits are cadmium or lead, so you should look for glass mugs that don’t contain those two metals.

Does coffee taste better in a white cup?

Coffee doesn’t necessarily taste better in a white cup. People who use white cups report more intensive coffee bitterness. If that’s what you prefer, then your coffee might taste better in a white cup. However, if you prefer sweeter flavors, you may need to opt for a different color.


References

  1. Keeping Your Warm Drinks Warm - A Thermal Properties Approach. (2019, January 24). Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://thermtest.com/keeping-your-warm-drinks-warm-a-thermal-properties-approach
  2. Cartwright, M. (2019, February 4). Ming Porcelain. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.ancient.eu/Ming_Porcelain/
  3. What Is Melamine Crockery? (2018, October 3). Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://www.nisbets.co.uk/benefitsofmelamine
Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.