The Best Mug Warmer Doesn’t Need a Souped-Up Coaster to Stay Hot
It’s built to insulate 90 minutes of multitasking.
Published Sep 18, 2022 3:19 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
All kinds of electric mugs and warmers promise to keep your drink of choice steamy hot for hours on end. With countless products out there, from small heating pads to all-in-one battery-powered mugs, there’s a lot to sift through. After testing an edit of the market’s leading options (think: plug-in, cordless, self-heating, and Bluetooth connections), we’re here to tell you that the best mug warmer is the Ember Mug.
Sizes: 10 or 14 ounces | Color options: Black, white, and gray, plus special editions | Price: $130–$180
What we like:
- Sleek design
- Precise temperature setting via Bluetooth
- 90-minute built-in battery charge
- Waterproof (submersible up to 1 meter)
- Auto-sleep feature
- Heavier than most mugs of similar size
- Hand-wash only
Back in the heyday of complicated Starbucks orders, I remember my mom specifically desiring her cappuccinos at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. While any old insulated tumbler may keep your drink “hot,” what makes the Ember so distinct—within the rather stacked mug warmer category—is that you can set your temperature specifications right down to the degree (seriously, we fact-checked with a kitchen thermometer). Yes, it involves downloading the Ember app and pairing your mug to your smartphone device—but that’s a quick process and offers up a perfectly heated drink (coffee, tea, whatever suits your fancy) in no time, and for as long as you like. No smartphone? No problem—the Ember Mug is preprogrammed to exist at the toasty ideal of 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Ember comes with a coordinating charging coaster, too. To get started, allow your mug to charge for about an hour before use and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions (it will become second nature after a few times). A red light will flash while the device is charging, and a solid green light will show when it’s ready to go. Next, pour your liquid in. A flashing white light will appear while the mug is heating up to your selected temperature, and finally a solid white light will show when it has been reached. Off the coaster, the mug will continue to self-heat for about 90 minutes. On the coaster, it can stay warm all day (great news for us distractible drinkers). And when it comes time to clean, no need to worry about damaging the electronics—the Ember is waterproof up to 1 meter and safe to hand-wash.
So as long as you’re not the mug shopper who dotes over artisan pottery at the farmers’ market, you’ll love the Ember’s sleek, minimalist style. Other than the subtle LED lights indicating readiness, you won’t be able to tell this is more than a mug. It’s lined with a stainless steel core, so it feels a bit heavier than most you may be used to (for example, the 10-ounce actually weighs 14.5 ounces), but the handle is sturdy and comfortable enough to carry its weight without drooping. And while it comes in a standard color run of white, black, and gray, we’re particularly partial to the new metallic editions (hello, rose gold).
On Our Radar
The Ohom Ui Self-Heating Mug is another favorite. It’s a bit less expensive than the Ember, but it only warms beverages to a standard 130 degrees—what you gain in affordability you lose in temperature specificity. We do love the more traditional feel of the Ohom; its ceramic material has a hand-hewn aesthetic. And its color options are particularly lovely (our pick is a lavender-gray).
Budget-Friendly Options, Tested
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the following two plug-in mug warmers operate similarly to hot plates using standard, lo-fi technology, but they do get the job done. The Vobaga Coffee Warmer has a bit of a retro feel, while the Haoy Coffee Warmer is more minimal. Neither product allows you to specify precise temperature preferences, though the Vobaga has three range options (95 to 104 degrees, 122 to 131 degrees, or 140 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit) and the Haoy has two (104 to 122 degrees or 122 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Do not get either heating pad wet—even a drop of water on the bottom of a mug of tea caused some sparking noises when it hit the plate. And just like a flatiron or other plug-in electronic, the surface of these devices will continue to stay hot to the touch for a period of time post-use.
How We Chose the One
We went through plenty of espresso shots and tea bags while researching this story, and though there were multiple products that worked to similar effect, we prioritized well-designed items from reputable brands with creative technology. We tried the effectiveness of each product, looking at innovative interfaces and user-friendly features. Among these attributes, the Ember Mug emerged as our obvious pick—and almost 5,000 reviewers agree on the brand’s site.
Our Shopping Checklist
The Ember Mug comes in two standard sizes—the 10-ounce should do the trick for the typical drip coffee drinker, while a latte enthusiast may prefer the 14-ounce option. Other important design features to consider are sturdiness, handle comfort, waterproof capabilities, and aesthetics. Our recommendation, of course, passes these tests. If you’re looking for other sizes but want the same technology, the Ember Travel Mug is a cup holder–friendly alternative that carries 12 ounces, while the Ember Cup is a petite 6-ounce version.
When shopping online for electronic products, it can be hard to know their true efficacy, especially when it comes to a difficult-to-demonstrate quality like temperature control. That’s where testing becomes uniquely important. That being said, look for products that market the ability to choose precise beverage temperature as opposed to a generalized message of “we’ll keep your liquid hot.” Who knows how hot you really like your coffee? Maybe you have different preferences for different warm drinks. In our opinion, that’s where the Ember Mug really shines.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Because mug warmers and self-heating mugs are electric devices, most of them are not safe for use in a dishwasher. Always wash by hand with a gentle dish soap (the Ember is waterproof and submersible up to 1 meter) and never (under any circumstances) put your device in the microwave.
Q: Can a product like the Ember Mug be used to boil water?
No. Most mug-warming products are designed to begin with a beverage that is already hot and to keep that drink at your desired level of warmth for a period of time. They cannot be used to boil water. Even heating up something from cool or room temperature utilizes greater battery power and takes extra time.
Q: Can you use any mug with a mug warmer?
That depends. With a product like the Ember Mug, you cannot use a regular mug on Ember’s charging coaster. But with a regular charging coaster like this or this, you can use most thin-wall and flat-bottom mugs of the ceramic or glass variety.