Some people rely on caffeine for the extra energy they need during a busy day, others simply enjoy the taste and ritual of coffee—it plays a crucial role in many people’s lives. Whether you prefer espresso, Americano, latte, cappuccino, mocha, flat white, or some other type, the right mug adds to the drinking experience. Finding that perfect mug—the one that holds the right amount of java, maintains the right temperature, and is easy to clean—is not always a short, straightforward journey.
Personal preference will factor into considerations like choosing between a thick- or thin-walled mug, a large mug you can wrap your hands around for warmth on a cold morning, or a small cup so you feel entitled to a mid-morning refill. Travel needs and size will also help you decide which is the best coffee mug for you. Below you’ll find distinctions between different types of mugs and recommendations for the best mugs we found on the market.
Different Types of Coffee Mugs
Finding the perfect coffee mug online can be tricky, since there are many types and styles available, and it can be tough to tell which one will be right for you without holding it. To make your decision easier, this guide outlines some of the most popular coffee mug types.
Classic mugs, as the name implies, are what most people envision when you say “coffee mug.” Traditional, but not boring, these mugs are present in most kitchen cabinets. Often crafted from ceramic with a sturdy rounded handle and available in various sizes, the classic mug can feature different prints, slogans, sayings, or images, or be finished in a simple solid glaze. Classic mugs are usually microwaveable and extremely durable. Ceramic mugs can be heavy and may be prone to staining if light in color. The wall thickness of classic mugs can range from relatively thin, though not as thin as a china teacup, to very thick, such as common restaurant and diner mugs.
While regular glass is too temperature-sensitive to make a useful coffee mug, tempered or borosilicate glass makes an elegant vessel. Sturdier in the hand than a teacup and unusual enough to feel special, glass mugs are often shaped in creative and attractive styles, with pretty curves and cut details. Even heavy glass will not insulate your coffee for as long as ceramic, so don’t plan on lingering too long over your cup if you’ve chosen a glass mug. These mugs are easy to care for and ideal if you want to feel a touch of luxury over your morning or after-dinner coffee.
For coffee drinkers that love to have a cup of coffee on the road, travel mugs are the best choice. Lightweight and portable, travel mugs are commonly made of stainless steel, although some ceramic models are available. They feature a tight-fitting, spill-resistant lid, and are usually made with insulated walls that reliably keep the coffee hot for hours. Travel mugs are designed to fit in automobile cup holders so coffee on the go is a reality, and some are completely leakproof for easy stowing in a bag or briefcase. These mugs can be top-heavy if they’re too sharply tapered, so balance is important to consider, as is the design of the lid: Spill-proof lids are great, but if the lid is difficult to clean well, it’s easy for these gasketed lids to develop mold.
Tumblers are a newer combination of classic and travel mugs. Changing up the design of both, tumblers feature the insulation and lids of a travel mug in a shorter, wider shape that is closer to that of a traditional mug—but often without a handle. Not ideal for in-car sipping, tumblers are generally too wide to fit in the cupholder of a car. They are, however, great at keeping coffee hot for long stretches and carrying with you through the day at work, and their design is often contemporary and sleek.
Our Top Picks
With your shopping considerations in mind, choose a mug that best suits your needs out of these quality recommendations.
Holding 20 ounces of hot or cold beverage, the Contigo Autoseal West Loop Travel Mug is one of the best coffee mugs on the market. Sleek and smooth, the 20 color options allow buyers to choose the one that suits them best. This mug will keep your coffee hot for 7 hours (or cold for 12, if it’s iced), so you can carry it with you during the day, on your commute, at meetings, and on the way home. Even if you’re working from home or sitting on your porch with a book, this mug is comfortable to hold and a pleasure to look at.
THERMALOCK vacuum insulation keeps your beverage at temperature, and this Contigo mug is truly leak-proof and spill-proof: the lid locks the mug closed until you depress a button to open the mouthpiece for drinking, and automatically closes when you release. The button includes a guard to prevent it from being pressed when in your bag for leak protection as well. The lid was redesigned so that it can be easily and thoroughly cleaned by hand and is dishwasher safe, but the stainless steel body of the mug should only be hand washed to protect the vacuum seal.
The 14-ounce Le Creuset Stoneware Mug is glazed with deep and lustrous color options to create a nonporous enamel finish that resists cracking and chipping. A curved loop handle makes the mug comfortable to hold, and it’s the right size to wrap your hands around to warm them. The Le Creuset mug is oven safe and microwave safe for heating drinks, and the stoneware will retain the heat for a long time, naturally insulating your coffee. All Le Creuset items are handcrafted, so there will be some variation in the color and gradient of your mug, making sets complementary yet unique. A small luxury in a classic package, this mug is as comfortable on your bedside table filled with soup as it is in a boardroom filled with coffee.
One of the biggest complaints buyers have about glass coffee mugs is that they don’t insulate the hot coffee and keep it at temperature for long enough. JoyJolt overcame this problem by crafting a double-walled glass vessel that suspends the inner glass mug in an insulating glass shell, so the mug will keep hot beverages hot and cool beverages cool.
Made from crystal-clear hand-blown borosilicate glass, the JoyJolt mug manages to look delicate while maintaining a satisfying heft. The exterior and handle remain cool and condensation free. Holding just under 8 ounces of coffee, the JoyJolt is oven, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe, and is elegant enough for company but comfortable enough for your daily brew. The set includes two mugs.
The 18-ounce Ello Jane Ceramic Travel Mug is a creamy white, elegantly tall ridged ceramic coffee container. The mug features a silicone boot that functions as a coaster to protect surfaces from the hot ceramic and render the mug nonslip. The Ello Jane lid matches the color of the silicone boot—the boots and lids are available in grey, midnight, mint, and yucca—and the lid has a unique shape that seals the mug when closed, but opens in such a way that the user is drinking from the ceramic lip of the cup, not from a plastic lid. For buyers with textural or health concerns, this is a great feature. The plastic lid is certified to be BPA, BPS, and phthalate-free.
The rounded handle of the Ello Jane Ceramic Travel Mug is graceful and large enough to be comfortable. It’s important to note that the lid is spill-proof, but not completely leakproof—this is not a mug you can toss in your bag, but the comfort and pleasure of drinking from it make up for that inconvenience, as does the fact that the whole mug is dishwasher safe.
The 10-ounce YETI Rambler Lowball is made from durable 18/8 stainless steel for puncture and rust resistance. Double-walled vacuum insulation keeps drinks hot (or cold), and a tightly-fitting lid prevents spills but does not seal for travel. The Duracoat finish is available in 15 colors and resists chipping, scratching, and flaking, so this tumbler looks at home in the office or by the campfire. The clear plastic lid is shatterproof, and the entire mug is dishwasher safe. Specially designed to be sweatproof, the YETI will keep your hands comfortable while keeping your drink hot and won’t leave a moisture ring on the table.
The 12-ounce HotMug Travel French Press from Zyliss looks like a standard mug with a travel lid, but it’s actually a whole coffee (or tea) brewing system for the road. Add water and coffee grounds to the mug, press down the clip-in fine mesh filter, and snap on the lid. Your coffee will brew right in the mug, and when it’s ready, the mesh will keep the grounds from ending up in your drink. The double-wall construction will keep your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate hot for a long time.
The Zyliss HotMug is dishwasher safe, and the hard plastic is entirely BPA free. Saving you time and effort in the morning, the Zyliss is ideal for commuters, college students, and office workers who love fresh coffee but can’t plug in a coffee pot: all you need is hot water, coffee, and this Zyliss mug for a steaming brew to be in your hand in minutes.