Thanks to ADHD (which was undiagnosed for 46+ years of my life), I have a tendency to leave coffee cups everywhere. Usually, they’re half full of coffee, and I’ve just absentmindedly set them down. About half the time I find the in the microwave, because I found a cup of cold coffee somewhere and heated it up, only to forget about it again in the microwave.
This mug does not solve the problem of misplacing coffee.
What does mug does do, however, is keep my coffee at a constant 132 degrees Fahrenheit. Mind you, I’ve had mug warmers of varying sorts for decades. There was a time about 10 years ago when they fell out of fashion, and you had to buy a “candle warmer” and put your mug on that. Unfortunately, a traditional mug warmer suffered from the same problem a pot-warmer has — burnt coffee. And burnt coffee is just the worst. In fact, this is a bit of a tangent, but if you have a coffee pot that keeps your coffee warm with a “burner” underneath, please buy yourself an insulated carafe instead. It’s a better experience all around. But back to the Ember…
OMG DID YOU LOOK AT THE PRICE?!?
Yeah. Yeah I did. And that’s the reason I didn’t buy myself one. I had an Ember mug in my Amazon wishlist for a very long time. The only reason I have one now, is because I’m particularly difficult to buy Christmas presents for, and my wife opted to look at my wishlist for ideas. And I’m so, so glad she did.
The Ember mug is expensive. There’s no two ways about it. It just is. But it’s one of those purchases that I think might actually be worth the premium. Hear me out…
- Mug warmers don’t have thermostats. They will keep your coffee hot, but if you tend to forget about your coffee’s existence in the universe — they will conveniently cook your coffee into a thick sludge, and even into a hard coffee “puck” in the bottom of your mug. After about 20 minutes, your coffee will get an “on the burner too long” burnt taste, and after that it’s all downhill. The Ember keeps your heavenly elixir at whatever temperature you set. For me, that’s 132 degrees F. If you don’t touch your coffee mug, it will shut off after a while, so even if you do forget it, it doesn’t get burnt.
- I never realized how much I appreciate coffee at a set temperature. Usually at first, it’s a bit too hot to really enjoy the flavor. Then if you keep sipping, when it passes the sweet spot (which for me is 132 degrees, as I’m sure you’ve guessed) the coffee is amazing. Then as it continues to cool, it’s still good but not quite as good. And of course when it gets cold, I pop it into the microwave and we start over. (Another side note — warming cold coffee in the microwave is surprisingly effective. It doesn’t burn it, and as long as you haven’t left it on a mug warmer, it still tastes fresh.)
- Having a place the Ember lives (on its charging coaster) has meant I misplace it far less often. I should also admit, I’ve recently started taking medicine for my ADHD, so that probably has something to do with my lack of absentmindedness. Still, I leave *other* cups laying around, so the Ember having a home base seems to make a difference.
Wait… Other Mugs?
Yeah, I figured you’d catch that. As much as I truly do love my Ember mug, it has some flaws. At least for me. Maybe they’re my own flaws, and the Ember just doesn’t accommodate me. Nevertheless, there is a bit of trouble in paradise, and I’d be remiss not to be transparent:
- Did I mention the cost? Ok, yeah I did. Still, it’s worth noting that this mug is a friggen investment. But I digress.
- The Ember mug can’t be microwaved. Well, I mean, I guess it could. Once. Then it would no longer be an Ember mug. It would be a very expensive ceramic-coated mug that you probably still should only hand-wash because there’s a battery in there. And actually, if you microwave it, the battery is probably expanding and will potentially rupture. You should really throw it away. Like right now.
- Wait wait wait… why should that matter, right? If it keeps it warm, why would you need to microwave it? First off, yes, I realize making this another numbered list item is weird, but this is my review and I can
- do whatever I want. Ha. Anyway, since my coffee pot does not have a burner (ok it does, but it has a separate switch so I never EVER turn it on), when there is coffee leftover from the previous day, I will start the morning with a microwaved cup of yesterday’s brew. Disgusting you say? Pshaw. Microwaved coffee from yesterday is orders of magnitude better than coffee which has been on a burner for even 20 minutes. If you disagree, that’s fine. You’re less likely to microwave your Ember mug.
- Having a single charging coaster means my Ember mug’s “home” is my office desk. My office is upstairs. There’s a weird sort of space/time distortion that happens in the morning, and before I’ve had coffee, the staircase is at least 37 miles long. Trudging up them to get my mug is very unpleasant. So even on the mornings when there isn’t leftover coffee, and I make a fresh pot — I still usually start with a traditional DumbMug. Thankfully I’ve gathered an incredible collection of nifty coffee mugs over the years, so this isn’t as unpleasant as you’d think. Anyway, I’ll sip on the DumbMug of either freshly brewed or freshly zapped coffee, and when I get to my office, I’ll dump the rest of the mug into my Ember. Also, an extra coaster is like forty bucks or so, and if I get another I’m going to want several. One for the living room, my bedroom, etc. So for now, it is what it is.
Ok, that wasn’t too bad. And I’ve given you usage tips to make the downsides bearable. But wait… there are a few more things you should know:
- The battery only keeps your coffee warm for about an hour when it’s not on a charging coaster. This would be less of an issue if I had multiple coasters, but so far I only have the one. It makes quick trips downstairs to flirt with my wife perfectly fine. (Coffee-wise. It sometimes annoys her if she’s working…) But if I use my Ember mug in the evening to have NightCoffee or tea — the battery is disappointing. An hour is quite a while, but I’m a multi-cup sorta person when it comes to hot beverages.
- The mugs come in multiple sizes. This isn’t a problem really, but I have the largest mug they make, and it’s 14oz. That’s… fine. It’s a decent size cup. It feels like a normal size mug. For some reason, 14oz sounds like a rather large volume for a coffee cup. It’s not. It’s just a regular coffee mug size. This truly baffles me, because at a coffee shop, a 16oz cup seems like a significantly larger amount of coffee than my 14oz mug holds. Maybe I should measure it… Anyway. If you opt for the 10oz model because it’s (maybe?) a bit cheaper, you might regret it. I can’t imagine having a smaller version.
- Yes, I know I switched to bullet points instead of numbers for this list. I’m clearly a child who shouldn’t be given formatting controls.
- If you pour cold coffee into your Ember mug, it will not warm it up. Not automatically anyway. See, when you pour hot (or even warm) coffee in the cup, it magically senses what you’ve done, and honors your offering by bringing it to your preferred temperature and keeping it there. But if you dump in cold coffee, it’s disgusted by your implication that cold coffee isn’t garbage, and so doesn’t heat it up. You have to press the button on the bottom to turn it on. Sometimes twice in quick succession. Then, when you see the slowly pulsing white light, you know it’s rolling its eyes while it does indeed bring your coffee up to temp. NOTE: This kills the battery sooner. It’s not an issue of you tend to leave it on its coaster, but if you’re walking around flirting with spouses while it warms up your cold coffee — it won’t last a full hour.
- Speaking of pulsing lights — the status LED is customizable. You can set your light color to any color on the color wheel. It’s really nifty. But here’s the thing, it only turns that custom color when you pick it up. It’s just a quick way to identify your mug from some other Ember user in your house. (I have a large Spot sticker on mine, plus I’m the only person who owns one in the house, so this is largely a moot point — but still, I thought my mug would have custom lighting all the time, but alas it’s only that initial notification when you pick it up.)
- Lastly, I have to admit, if you try REALLY hard, you can get the Ember to sorta make your coffee icky. If you have about 1/2″ of coffee in the bottom of the mug, and you let it keep that tiny bit up to temperature for an extended amount of time, it will start to get gross. I’m not sure if the Ember has a difficult time sensing the temperature with that small amount of coffee, or if the coffee just evaporates a larger percentage of itself because it’s almost gone. But while it’s not as bad as coffee cooked on a burner/warmer pot — it does get a little funky in that one situation.
I know, that was wordy. I apparently have many thoughts on my Ember mug. Here’s the quick takeaway. It’s the most incredible coffee mug I’ve ever owned. I love it. If I had to change anything, it would be that they make a firmware change which would give users and option to automatically warm cold coffee when poured in. And also, cheaper charging coasters. Because I really want to have about 3 more.
My Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars