Our 9 Top Sources for the Best Coffee Mugs, Because You Can Always Use One More
Statement finds and stoneware await you.
Updated Feb 2, 2023 6:25 PM
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Hardworking drinkware is a worthy investment, but finding the best coffee mug these days requires more than answering the question of what gets you going in the morning. Do you want fun handles that make you smile while savoring your favorite beverage? The easiest way to knock back a latte while dashing out the door? A sleek, minimal design or something with the warmth and weight of stoneware?
Casey Simring, former buyer for table- and barware at Food52, has tested dozens and dozens of mugs, so much so that her personal collection has spilled over from her kitchen to a box beneath her bed. “It really has to have the right hand feel, capacity, and shape for your personal habit,” Simring says of the ideal mug. “I really enjoy having the maker’s hand as part of my morning routine.”
As a mood ring for your morning and a steady work-from-home companion, there’s good reason to swap out that chipped mug from a 5K you didn’t even run for something that does double duty: looking good and making your caffeine consumption that much more pleasurable.
Where to Buy the Best Coffee Mugs
- Best exclusives: Food52
- Best statement: Ssense
- Best petite: Goodee
- Best enamel: Crow Canyon
- Best borosilicate: Hay
- Best on-the-go: Fellow
- Best sets: Anthropologie
- Best stackable: West Elm
- Best warming: Ember
Best Exclusives: Food52
Every year, kitchen and homewares purveyor Food52 rolls out a limited-edition collection of mug designs by a cohort of ceramists. If your cupboards are filled with an eclectic mix of porcelain as opposed to streamlined sets, this is the drop for you. We’re talking bubbly exteriors and eccentric silhouettes; handles of all shapes and sizes (teeny half moons, elongated grips, chunky and thin, even squiggly); and a rainbow of glazes, ranging from speckled matte to glossy sheens. You can’t score this assortment anywhere else, even if you were to pop into a pottery studio, which is why it tops our list as the best spot for exclusive, one-of-a-kind coffee vessels.
Sadly, most of the drops from last November have sold out—we may or may not be crying over the “out of stock” notifications on Base Ceramics’s cheerful stripes or the bulbous body by BKLYNCLAY. But there are definitely still a few left worth picking up. California-based ceramist Sara Ekua Todd’s 100% stained (not painted) clay gem, with a dramatic handle nearly the size of the cup itself, is still in stock. Rory Pots’s stoneware, which could easily hold its own on a bookcase as a sculptural piece post-sips, is available, too. And as we’ve learned the hard way, set your calendars for the next fresh batch once it’s announced—this is the sort of launch that’ll leave you empty-handed if you wait.
Best Statement: Ssense
A bold roast deserves to be served in an equally stunning vessel, no? At Ssense, you have your choice of dozens of statement pieces in the form of both color and shape, particularly when it comes to artistic handles. Seriously, these aren’t your average coffee mugs. Whether you prefer a modern take on traditional Splatterware (hello, Bombac) or painterly harlequin patterns, you’re likely to find a ceramic maker’s offerings here that suit your taste. Our preferred picks include an eye-catching ribboned handle from Perla Valterra, made in Mexico, in a dramatic black glaze. We’re also partial to Soft Skills’s wheel-thrown, sculptural stoneware.
Best Petite: Goodee
A coffee mug at or just under 8 ounces—borderline the same dimensions as a teacup, but not quite as diminutive as a demitasse for espresso—is the preferred size of more than one Domino editor. 1616/Arita Japan’s cup is a teeny take that falls somewhere happily in the middle. Only 2 inches tall and a hair wider, this Japanese-inspired ceramic with its fully flush, just-as-petite handle is a delight to drink from, especially if you go with the bright pink and dandelion glazed interior combo.
It isn’t the only little mug offered by the brand. This minimalist number, designed by Teruhiro Yanagihara, is about the same size but elevates the plain white porcelain with a subtly flared lip and square handle. Made from crushed stone, this option is impervious to heat and crazy durable, making it a great addition to your daily drinkware rotation. Of course, by shopping at online retailer Goodee, which prioritizes traditional crafts and ethically sourced materials, you can rest assured that every piece is made with the utmost care.
Best Enamel: Crow Canyon
Enamel coffee cups bring to mind camping trips and outdoor excursions that require a durable, lightweight, and low-maintenance material you don’t have to stress about shattering. They’re also often sold at an affordable price. Crow Canyon has been making chic enamelware by hand since the 1970s, so it should come as no surprise that the brand is our go-to for picnic-friendly mugs (and if you’re a Prime member, it’s one of the few cool home brands on Amazon that will ship to you in two days’ time). Each of the 12- or 16-ounce cups, made of porcelain enamel and with a steel base, are dishwasher-, stovetop-, and oven-safe. All you have to decide is whether to go with the vintage-inspired color-blocked rims or playful take on Splatterware.
Best Borosilicate: Hay
While not all glass makes for a great coffee mug, borosilicate is ideal. Feather-light and resistant to thermal shock (you can heat it up in the microwave, no problem), it won’t sweat if filled with iced coffee or absorb any odors, so your roast always tastes fresh. And sure, while transparent glass is definitely having a moment—who hasn’t seen a TikTok of someone warming up their Nespresso with this rippled Amazon find underneath—we still pick Hay’s signature colors as the best. A sepia orange or rose pink, especially one featuring a contrasting handle in blue or gray, can make a morning routine that much more enjoyable. Hay’s are a notch above the rest on the market, offering a thick, sturdy handle and delicately rimmed lip. It’s definitely not your best bet for long-lasting heat retention, but for those who are constantly blowing over a fresh pour, tap these two for burn-free sips.
Best On-the-Go: Fellow
Because it fits most standard manual coffee brewers, this mug makes getting out of the house easier (and mess-free). Fellow has swapped out that standard tiny drinking hole with what it calls a “mug-inspired mouth.” A newer version features a 360-degree, splash-proof lid, so you can sip from any angle without having to fret about coffee stains magically appearing on your new knit during the commute from your front door to office. And instead of the usual stainless steel interior, this one is coated in ceramic, claiming to “keep your brew free of odors, oils, and ‘old penny’ tasting notes.” It also retains heat for 12 hours and a chill for 24 (it’s a double-walled, vacuum-insulated tumbler, after all) and comes in two sizes (12 and 16 ounces). This is the brand you’ve likely spotted on the shelves of local roasters, and what better stamp of approval is that?
Best Sets: Anthropologie
Anthropologie coffee mugs make for great gifts—particularly when shopping from the ever-popular monogram offerings—but did you know the retailer also delivers on the cutest sets? Floral motifs, double-walled glass, enamelware, handcrafted ceramic… you can mix and match to your heart’s desire at this retailer. We’d personally point you toward the Glenna mugs. While sold as a set of four, the handcrafted quality keeps them from looking too matchy-matchy. These are heavy but fit well in hand, reviewers note; one commenter loves their set so much that they’re ordering a second in case the style is discontinued. The Levi mugs, also a glazed stoneware, offer a similar rustic look.
Best Stackable: West Elm
For a space-saving storage solution for those tight on cabinet real estate (or to free up room on your floating shelves in the kitchen), West Elm offers a plethora of stackable cups. We’re partial to the minimalist designs, including the straight-sided stoneware numbers that are still a decently large 12.8-ounce size, as well as Aaron Proybn’s rounded nesting cups in a punchy celadon green that’s roughly textured on the outside but features a smooth, translucent glaze on the inside. Both are sold as 4 or 8 pieces and made from durable stoneware.
Best Warming: Ember
Say goodbye to cold cups of coffee. With a quick tap on the Ember app, your mug will stay at the perfect temperature no matter how long you nurse it. The battery lasts for roughly 80 minutes, but if you keep the charging station on your desk and treat it as a coaster, you’ll have hot coffee all day. You can control the temperature with a smartphone, but it’s also usable without the app, defaulting to your most recent setting. A light on the coaster will let you know when your coffee has reached your preferred temperature, and the mug enters sleep mode when it hasn’t been used for two hours or once it’s empty. It’s available in black, white, and red, or you can upgrade to a metallic finish (copper, gold, stainless steel).
Shop Secondhand Sources
Vintage Mikasa, Dansk from the ’80s, even hand-me-down Blue Willow—some of the best coffee mugs are actually the ones we’ve inherited or stumbled across at a thrift store. If you’re down for the thrill of the hunt, sifting through all the goods at your local vintage dealer (or even a place like Fishs Eddy) is a great place to check regularly for tableware that’s survived multiple moves or owners without chipping or losing its luster. You can also take the search online; our favorite sources for vintage mugs include Chairish, 1stDibs, and Etsy.
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Our Shopping Checklist
Consider both the practical aspects of your routine and that hard-to-articulate reason you’re drawn to one mug over another. Potter Helen Levi designed her Daily Mug using skill and intuition, only to subsequently realize it’s the exact size as her favorite mug from childhood.
Eight to 12 ounces is considered the standard size for a coffee mug, with larger sizes used more commonly for lattes, teas, and iced beverages. Levi’s Traditional Mug (8 ounces) is beloved by “coffee people,” she says; she drinks tea with milk out of the Daily Mug (14 ounces); and the Mega Mug (“24 friggin’ ounces!”) was designed to accommodate her husband’s iced coffee habit.
Porcelain is thin and light, while stoneware has heft to it. A matte glaze or unglazed surface chips more easily. Enamel is super-durable but absolutely cannot go in the microwave, so chronic reheaters should consider another material. Glass is particularly appealing for tea, allowing rich hues to show through. But unless the mug is double-walled, it can get very hot with a fresh cup or sweat with a cold beverage. Be sure to review dish-washing and microwave instructions before purchasing to make sure any mug you buy aligns with your preferences.
Pro Tips for Mug Shopping
- If you have open shelving, your collection of mugs will be on display, so consider either a matching set or a uniting principle—like collecting one designer or various designers in the same color scheme—to create cohesion.
- A pair of mugs is a great housewarming gift or hostess present and will last much longer than a bouquet of flowers. Add a bag of your favorite local coffee and you’ll definitely be invited back.
Q: How can I get stains out of my coffee mugs?
For stubborn stains, add soap and warm water, let sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a soft sponge. If that doesn’t work, put 1 teaspoon of baking soda in the bottom of the mug and add enough water to make a paste. Coat the stains and clean with a microfiber cloth. Rinse with water.