When I first heard about this $120 robot mug I was like, “what has the tech world invented now?” I pictured a bunch of dudes in Silicon Valley sitting around, trying to find a problem to solve with a new product to sell us. But then I realized how many times I go to the microwave to heat up my coffee when it goes cold. AH. That’s why. But I still couldn’t believe it was that expensive and I thought surely there was a more affordable version on the market. So before Christmas I bought all three (with the intent to review them in December, thus the holiday styling) and then regift them for Christmas gifts. None of which happened because, LIFE, but heck maybe it’s a better time now as people are hunkered down in the cold and wanting their life-blood/coffee to stay hotter longer. So I bought three at three different price points and after weeks of trying them out here is my review:
Wait, What Exactly Is An Electronic Mug?
Well. These bad boys sit on their little pad, which heats them up (through different methods) and the idea is that they stay hot for hours, tasting fresh and not disgusting. In theory I’m into this, but I’m also skeptical that this is something we NEED and doesn’t in fact just create more “stuff”. We drink a decent amount of coffee in the mornings – usually a cup while I walk the pups then I sip on another cup for a couple of house (thus the reheating). So technically I am a great candidate for this mug, but I’m also easily annoyed by technical difficulties so I avoid unnecessary tech at all times. So we need to explore the pros and cons and ensure that the pros outweigh the cons
Mug #1: Ember Mug² Temperature Control Smart Mug
Ember Mug² Temperature Control Smart Mug
This is the most famous and expensive of them all. The Ember was first to market (or first to social media) and runs $130. That’s a lot for a mug, so he better heat your coffee and change the oil in your tires or at least our AC filters twice a year. This is what it says:
“Enjoy hot drinks longer with an innovative mug that stays at your preferred temperature for up to 1.5 hours or all day on the charging coaster. Pair the smart mug to the Ember app on your smartphone to set the temperature, customize presets for your favorite drinks, receive notifications when your desired temperature is reached, personalize your mug and more. Advanced technology intelligently turns the mug on and off and keeps every sip the same temperature from top to bottom.”
This cracks me up. While it’s my preferred mug of the three because of portability, no bros, we don’t need to set different temperatures for different drinks via an app and I certainly don’t want more push notifications on my phone.
Pros: The biggest pro with this one is that it can be cordless (for an hour and a half) while the other two have to remain plugged in and on charging coasters. For me, this becomes the instant deal breaker and preference as I don’t sit at a desk against a wall and their cords aren’t long. I would be knocking over my mug every time I got up, or if the pups came over to say hi. Having this one cordless made it essentially the only one that I can use. Now if you have a desk against a wall or with an outlet directly underneath it you have options. I also like that the mug nestles into the charging coaster (not just sitting on it) as it feels more secure and you know if/when it’s plugged in right. It holds a decent amount of coffee (seems around 6 ounces) and the handle is comfortable.
When I remember to charge it and I’m sitting in one spot (I like to move around). It’s pretty darn wonderful to have hot fresh coffee for hours to sip slowly. I would prefer for the temperature to be controlled on the device itself (sometimes I’ll look at the app and it’s turned down for some reason and I like my coffee really hot). Per usual, the frustrations with tech are often not worth the “convenience” they provide. I’m really selling this thing aren’t I?
Cons: I don’t want an app for everything. I love a good old-fashioned on-and-off button. I know I’m not alone, but boy the tech industry wants us to have every device controlled by our phone (unsure if this is mostly to track behaviors). Sure, on the app you can control the temperature and know the amount of charge you have but again, I’d rather that be just on the pad.
OVERALL CON: This is for all of them – they need to be charged nightly and they don’t seem to hold their charge for hours. Now that’s fine, we can’t have everything in life but that means it’s another device you have to remember to charge at night or it’s useless. When I first started using it, it kept running out and then getting cold. But then you can’t microwave the mugs (or put them in the dishwasher) so you have to transfer to a microwaveable mug to heat up your tepid coffee that you spent $120 buying a mug for. I just couldn’t believe that it didn’t hold the charge for longer, that’s all. But I’m not an inventor so maybe this is really hard?
Mug #2: OHOM Ui Mug & Warmer Set
This one is electromagnetic (maybe they all are) so it’s not hot to the touch and keeps coffee hot for a pretty long time. I didn’t test it for more than 2 hours, but for those 2 hours, it was indeed hot.
Pros: This is dishwasher safe (not all of them are) and it also charges your iPhone (this is a lovely addition). It’s also a nice color and design. It’s also more affordable than the Ember, coming in at $88 (check their site for the second-run versions that are functional but have imperfections on the outside. You get 2 for 44$ random colors chosen).
Cons: Needs to remain plugged in to heat. The mug itself keeps the coffee hot for 10 or so minutes (in my experience) without being on the charging coaster, but typically it needs to sit on it to remain really hot. It also says “self-heating” but that feels misleading to me because you aren’t meant to put in cold coffee to make it hot (I don’t think) so it’s more about retaining heat and maybe making it slightly hotter. This one also has a strainer you can buy separately so you can do a pour over coffee or tea straight into the mug. From my experience to keep it super hot you have to put the ceramic lid on it, which is another task for me to do. If you don’t it does cool down a bit. Again, I like really hot coffee so it kinda defeats the purpose (Ember stayed hotter).
Mug #3: Amazon BestSeller – Apexx Induction Mug
This Apexx Induction Mug one was an Amazon bestseller during the holidays, likely because it comes in at $32 – a huge drop in price from the other two. It looks nice for sure but I found that it was hard to get it to charge (which it needs to in order to stay hot) and was frustrated easily by it. When it did work, it would stay hot for 20 minutes or so but you’d have to put the ceramic lid on it.
Pros: Affordable and looks nice. The packaging was strangely high-end if you are into that sort of thing. Charges phone or earbuds on the coaster as well. No app needed.
Cons: Mine was glitchy, you have to keep it plugged in, use the ceramic lid, and even so it didn’t keep it scalding hot – just warmer than if you didn’t have the coaster. But if someone likes warm coffee for longer, I suppose it does that job (just not super hot).
And The Best Self-Warming Mug Goes To…
All in all, I’m sorry and not terribly surprised to admit that the expensive Ember Mug does this particular job the best. It stays hotter for longer without the need for the ceramic lid, can be cordless so less of a risk to knock over, and you can move around the house. I just recently read that you don’t have to download the app and that it will default at 135 degrees (which is very hot and hotter than the other two) and there is a dial on the bottom that I didn’t realize. It’s splurgy though. For my life, I only really sit one day a week when I write, so it’s not enough of a value add for my life (especially because there are more parts to keep track of). I’d rather just use a to-go thermos or microwave my mug. However, if you sit at a desk for many hours in the morning, one near a wall or have an outlet on your desk, I will say this is a solidly good purchase or gift. But it’s not for the casual morning drinker or someone who drinks coffee at the dining table. The convenience of all of these becomes inconvenient when you have to remember to plug it in and keep it charged, so IMHO you have to give it a designated desk and outlet and use it daily to make it worth it.
*Photos by Kaitlin Green
Zero exaggeration, my Ember mug is the thing that has a daily positive impact on my quality of life.
I love coffee, but I especially love that first slightly-too-hot sip. The Ember mug gives me that for the whole cup.
Back when I commuted, I preferred my Contigo travel mug. But now that I’m mostly at home, the Ember has taken the top spot. It keeps my coffee hot through the morning rush (away from the charger), and then it’s great at my desk. I actually bought extra chargers so I have one at my desk, one beside my bed for lazy mornings, and one on the kitchen counter where it goes for the day after I hand wash it each morning. It really only needs the charger if I’m using it for longer than an hour or so (I drink multiple cups)
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All I could think while reading was that microwaving was definitely easier.
I like my yeti mug – it’s not keeping the coffee as hot as an ember, but it’s better than nothing.
Agreed! I’ll also add that keeping the lid on my Yeti keeps it hot for well over an hour (I was initially going to type “for hours” but felt like it might be too much of an exaggeration).
totally! It almost is too hot for too long!
I adore my Yeti mugs! I like them far more than the ultra-expensive Ember. Dishwasher safe, reasonably priced and keep my coffee plenty warm for hours. Swoon!
i’ve always been tempted to get the ember, but what stops me (outside of the price) is the fact that with microwaving you’re nudged to stand up and get away from your desk/workspace for a bit
Unless you’re my dad! Then you put it in the microwave, forget about it, and then everyone listens to the microwave sadly beeping that it’s done, but no one comes to retrieve the coffee until it’s cooled down again anyway.
Needless to say I’m considering this for my dad! 🙂
Ha! Every day I open the microwave “Oh! There’s yesterdays coffee!” Guilty!
I’m not a coffee drinker so maybe I’m not capable of understanding the utility here, but when I make tea that I want to keep warm for an extended period of time, I use my insulated Kleen Kanteen. Relatively inexpensive, uncomplicated, and travels with me to and from pickup and dropoff and around the house.
Yes, It does seem another example of hoping for a flying car flying but instead getting a more complicated way to call a cab.
Reading this with hands holding a coffee mug heated on a wood stove after losing power on a snowy day here in Nova Scotia :).
I love this image…fire! Who knew? And I hope your power is turned on soon!
Thanks for this honest review, Emily. I was considering purchasing one but didn’t want to deal with an app and wasn’t sure about the other two. I think I’ll pass on all three for now.
I have the ember and have never used the app the entire time I’ve had it (3 years).
I’m sorry but a thermal mug is portable, requires no electricity and actually holds the amount of beverage I want to drink, which is way more than 6 or 8 Oz. This seems like a totally unnecessary life complicator. And getting up to use the microwave for 45 seconds when I actually use my ceramic mug has never once made me miss a deadline or anything else in my life. Plus, I thought we were trying to use LESS electricity and have fewer things to send to a landfill. Big fat nope on this product. Also agree with Emily. I don’t need or want to own 50 billion items “controlled by a simple app on your phone!”.
Insulated thermoses last longer than an hour and a half (Yeti, Contigo, Stanley etc…) not plugging it or charging necessary. Yeti lives up to the hype in my experience and is my fave for hot bevs
i switched from a yeti to ember and ember definitely keeps my coffee at my ideal (very hot) temp much longer. Yeti is better than nothing but ember is a whole other level.
Though yes, i do miss my adorable-looking mugs that now sit in my cabinets…
I’ve found that a 12 or 16 oz insulated wine tumbler does a great job keeping hot drinks hot.
I’m not so interested in self-heating mugs. It’s kinda like why the Wall-e movie was made.
Humans need to move-it!
However….I had to scroll back up a couple of times to check who wrote it, because it reads sooo Brian!!!
Really. I did. 🤣🤣
I asked for the ember as a mother’s day gift since it’s not something I would buy for myself. I love it! I keep the charger base plugged in by my coffee maker. I usually have 3 cups of coffee from about 6-8am while getting kids ready for school and having some breakfast. The mug stays hot for me the entire time. After my 3rd cup, I rinse, wipe it out, and place back on the charger for tomorrow.
I love my Ember mug. I use it daily for coffee in the morning and herbal tea in the afternoon and evening. Don’t be put off by the app — after you set (or accept the preset temperature) you don’t ever have to go into the app again.
I prefer to drink out of my handmade pottery mug collection that I’ve slowly amassed. It brings me joy to drink out of something that someone put so much time and love in. Favorite potters are Melissa Weiss, After Hours pottery, Not Work Related, and Nikki Lau.
Does the heating of the coffee cause it to taste scorched, as it would with the pot left on the warmer?
in my experience, not at all. it just tastes like a good hot cup of coffee still. and much better than when nuked too. it can get a bit of a ‘skin’ on the top if you let a latte sit for a while, but that’s easily removed.
To me, this seems to be a stupid useless gadget that would not sell in Europe. Just put your coffee or tea in a thermos and refill your cup when needed. Cheaper, more environmentally friendly and who wants yet another electric gadget to charge???
Yes it’s just sad and charmless to me eventhough I agree it must be nice having coffee that remains hot for a long time. What happened to good old thermos? And like an other commenter wrote, what would my handmade ceramic mugs become?
The biggest turnoff for me is that you have to use the specific mug it comes with and not any of your own cute mugs you bought to use.
Yes I agree, drinking out of my nice carefully selected mugs is one of my little joys! Having said that, I do think those three mugs Emily reviewed are all… not bad… aesthetically speaking, compared to some tech gadgets. Personally I drink my coffee WAY too strong to be sipping at it for hours, I’d be having palpitations 😉 so I’m never going to be the target audience for this. I could see the advantage for English tea drinkers though if it doesn’t make the milk go weird.
For $13.49 at Target you can get my personal favorite mug warmer, the og Mr. Coffee: https://www.target.com/p/mug-warmer-black-mwblack/-/A-10210650?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df_free_online&CPNG=Appliances&adgroup=72-8
I’ve used mine for years and have given it as a gift countless times. You can use the mug of your choice and it keeps your beverage hot indefinitely. I’ve even used it to keep little pots of sauces warm for dinners and desserts.
Thanks for sharing this option! I had no idea it existed. Perfect gift for my husband. And thanks to Emily for the detailed reviews. Super helpful!
Also, I know some people don’t like to microwave coffee, so it’s nice to have other options for keeping it hot. (years ago there were reports that the microwaves kill the beneficial stuff in coffee – I’m not not sure where science falls on this now).
Wait! If there is a coffee warmer that has existed for years for only $14, why are people only hearing about the expensive options with special mugs!?! Perhaps, we need to find a super hot “influencer” to put this on Tick Tock and bring people back to reality. This really says something scary about our world…..
As a SAHM to a busy toddler, the Ember mug is a total game changer. I never thought I’d own such an expensive mug, but I’m so glad my husband got one for me as a gift! It has improved my life dramatically. I know it seems like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I can finally drink my coffee HOT again!!!
I did not know you could pay so much for such a thing! LOL. I treated myself to an $8 mug warmer this Christmas after thinking about it for a couple winters – it’s essentially a tiny, not very hot electric burner – and it does have that short cord you mention but that works for me.
It’s a pressure sensitive one so it only goes on when you set a mug on it, unlike some of the other cheap ones where if it’s plugged in, it’s on. I can use any normal mug (although I have found a couple of them don’t transfer the heat as well, no biggie) and it has been a lovely little luxury.
I agree 100% with your assessment of the Ember! Am I the only one who has to re-pair the device every time I use it? Not sure if my mug is malfunctioning or if this is the case for all of them?
I was gifted an ember mug recently and had no idea they were this expensive! I’ve only used it once because I’m too lazy to keep it charged and it doesn’t hold enough coffee for me. It holds even less than it looks because a significant portion of the bottom of the mug is actually the heating mechanism. I’m used to drinking big ole cups of coffee so I use an insulated Yeti tumbler instead.
This post restores my faith in the universe just slightly. Hilarious and honest. Thanks for the laugh!
Since some folks are recommending their preferred insulated thermos, here’s an endorsement of the Zojirushi stainless steel mug: https://a.co/d/iAhykhM. It’s unbelievable how long it keeps my coffee hot! And water cold.
I was given Ind if these as a gift and they are crazy! Keeps my coffee piping hot for 3-4 hours. I love it so much I went out and bought another.
OK so i actually have multiple ember mugs. I’m a slow coffee drinker but like it pretty hot, and got one as a gift (that i’d requested, when they were still $100…) and loved it. And then my mom found two new in box ones for $10 total at a garage sale!!!!! So now i have one in my office, one in my apartment, and one at my parents’ house (they’re not that into it though i encourage its use in my absence). I also didn’t want to love it so much given the price but it truly is a game-changer for me. I do wish it lasted longer than 90 minutes or so without a charge, but it’s still the best option.
I love my Ember! I had no idea that I would. It seemed so ridiculous to spend that kind of money on a coffee mug. But I am the person who is constantly microwaving their coffee cup. I too have two bases. I keep one of my nightstand and one in the kitchen, the cup sleeps overnight in the kitchen gets filled up and brought back to bed or I read the news on my tablet for a while. There are often sales. And Costco has had it in the past. You can often get one for $100. To Emily‘s point about the different temperature settings I find it quite true that coffee and tea should be at different settings. Enter her points about the app except for setting it up initially, I never use the app it’s unnecessary.
Without hyperbole I will say that receiving the Ember as a gift from my husband for mother’s day 3 years ago may have been the single best gift I’ve received in a very long time. I leave the mug on the charger thing plugged into the wall overnight and take it with me all over the house for the next 3 hours or so. It stays perfectly hot the entire time. I rinse it and put it back on the charger and if I want another cup I can have one after it charges for a bit or can leave it on the charger in the kitchen. It will produce a “skin” if you use milk (or similar) in your coffee and the temp is too high. I don’t use the app, have never synced with any device. Its easy and perfect. Expensive, sure. But I’ve had this thing for 3 years and use it everyday. I love it! I even take it with me on vacation. Truth be told we take the nespresso machine with us on vacation too (when we drive somewhere) but these are the creature comforts I care about. For some its cars or sconces, for… Read more »
I travel with my Soda Stream! (Only when driving but don’t think I haven’t googled whether I could fly with it, lol!)
Regardless of the functionality, they’re all too small for me. I regularly drink out of a part-of-a-gift-set-and-more-novelty-than-intended-for-use gigantic Lindor truffles mug. 6oz?! pssh
Lol. As a lifetime black tea drinker (which is fine when it is hot, warm or stone cold) I had no idea this was a thing! What we need for our house is a cup with a little beeper for when cups of tea get left behind. I’m always finding my partner’s half drunk cups of tea in the most random places (I found one on the top shelf of our wardrobe the other day!)
I use a SIMPLE GLASS LINED THERMOS…..hot for about 6 hours-depending on the starting temp
This (and Kelly’s comment above) has inspired me to try this mug warmer by Cosori: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089SGRVBJ? I like the looks of this one better and the temp control.
A Zojirushi thermos will keep coffee too hot to drink for many hours. I was shocked.
I got my husband the Ember cup for Christmas and he LOVES it. I’m shocked as he is not a tech-y type at all. We joke about his coffee mug being so needy and sending him notifications. He’s told all his buddies about it and really enjoys it, but he drinks A LOT of coffee.
Lol thank you for the honest review. Maybe thermos review should be next! Net zero energy operation :]
Thanks for this review. I love hot coffee and with three small kids, find myself microwaving it many times. BUT the thing that keeps me from an insulated cup or one of these now is that the cup doesn’t feel hot. I love a warm cup in my hands. Maybe this is a message for me to slow down enough to enjoy a whole cup of coffee/tea? It might take ten minutes since after that it cools too much. Helpful reading this, em!
My sister prepares all of her coffee in an insulated travel mug, but she just pours it out as she’s ready. Maybe you could drink a half cup at a time! I agree that I want my hands on a real mug.
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we gave our son the Ember mug AND hot pad for Christmas. Keeps it hot all day long as long as it’s on the pad. He has to charge nightly but he’s in high tech so not a big deal for him. Not sure why you didn’t mention the pad with the mug review? Big part of it working well.
this is confusing – for ember, they’re sold together, so she is talking about the mug and the charging pad it sits on – and it’s pictured above too. there would be no point to the ember if you couldn’t charge it?
I guess this must be a niche market that I am not part of. Firstly, I don’t understand how it can take someone hours to drink a single cup of coffee???? If it does take you that long, would it not make more sense to put it in a thermos after brewing and just pour out small espresso cups (use an insulated glass espresso so it doesn’t lose any heat when you put it in.
I don’t see why anyone would buy these instead of a thermos?
I have had 2 OHOM mugs and they both stopped working. The first I received as a gift and it didn’t work out of the box – the warmer plate made a weird high pitched sound. They replaced it no questions asked, but then after about a month the replacement one stopped working in a different way (didn’t warm at all, then stopped lighting up when plugged in). Disappointing because it’s a cool idea and the mug itself is a pretty color and lovely to hold.
I reheat my coffee multiple times throughout the morning as well. Not sure I want to spend the money on a stay-hot mug, but the bonus of charging my phone may make it worth it.
I found this post interesting because I’ve wondered what users of these products really think. I also hate adding more tech to my life — for those opposed as well, I offer this solution: I pour my just-brewed coffee in a high-quality stainless steel travel mug (I like my Stanley) that keeps the coffee warm for hours. Then I put a few ounces of the hot AF coffee into a small cup (think like a porcelain mug with a handle). AND THATS IT. The travel mug keeps it scalding hot, and I pour what I want into my cup and sip as I want. Yes it means 2 items at my desk instead of one, but I’d much prefer that to another item to charge daily!
Anyway. Hope that’s helpful to someone! Changed me life a few years ago (a touch embarrassing to admit!)