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What are the Different Types of Coffee Mugs?

By Michael Giuffre
Updated May 16, 2024
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Coffee is said to be consumed on a daily basis by 54% percent of the United States adult population. This staggering statistic means that more than half of the adult population needs some sort of mug or cup to drink their coffee in. Coffee mugs serve the purpose, and there are a wide variety of styles and materials to choose from.

There are many different materials used to manufacture coffee mugs and each has its following. Common materials used to make them include porcelain, stainless steel, plastic, and glass. Additionally, many shapes and sizes are made to fit the needs of the vast coffee drinking population. The size, material, and shape variables create a seemingly endless array of possibilities for coffee drinkers to choose from.

Porcelain mugs do a good job of holding heat, and can be beautifully decorated, making them a suitable choice for use in one's house with guests. This material is easy to break, however, and these cups generally do not come with tops to keep the coffee from spilling. When traveling or at work, people may want to consider using another type of mug.

Stainless steel and plastic are commonly used together to manufacture hybrid coffee mugs. A stainless steel outer cup lined with plastic is quite common. These mugs have the advantage of lids that sport a drinking spout or hole, making them spill and break-resistant. The lids also trap heat and some mugs of this type are insulated to maintain heat even longer. This type is normally referred to as a traveling cup.

The shape and size of the mug is also important. Most are no smaller than 12 ounces (354.8 ml), which is the size of a can of soda, and a standard serving size for beverages. Some are made to accommodate much larger amounts of coffee or tea, and many people drink several servings of coffee per day. Many mugs are available that 20 ounces (591.4 ml) or more.

The shapes of coffee mugs are also very diverse, from the traditional, to the jumbo mug, to the traveling cup, which resembles a tall drinking glass in size and shape. The fit of the handle of the mug should be comfortable for the user and should not create an awkward grip.

Regardless or size, shape or material, coffee mugs made today have the individual user's needs in mind. Whether someone is looking for the beauty of a finely made porcelain or glass mug or the durability of stainless steel and plastic, the needs of many millions of coffee drinkers are well-met.

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Discussion Comments
By sunnySkys — On Nov 20, 2012

@KaBoom - I take reusable cups with me when I go to coffee shops too. Sometimes it's kind of pain to remember to throw it in my bag when I'm heading out, but I feel like it's so much better for the environment. I just have to make sure I remember to bring them back home with me. I've gotten close to accidentally throwing my cup away on the way out of the coffee shop several times!

By KaBoom — On Nov 19, 2012

I love getting coffee when I'm out running around, but I always feel so guilty using disposable coffee cups. So I was really happy a few years ago when those reusable cups modeled after to-go coffee cups came out! They look just like a disposable cup, but you can bring them with you and reuse them.

Most coffee places are happy to make your coffee for you in a reusable cup, so it works out well. Also, sometimes you can get a small discount if you bring your own mug!

By JessicaLynn — On Nov 18, 2012

@eidetic - That's a pretty cool idea. I've also seen some pretty neat looking mugs made out of stainless steel. But just regular mugs, not those thermal travel mugs. The stainless steel mugs look pretty neat and would probably look cool in an office that has a more modern decor.

By eidetic — On Nov 18, 2012

@googlefanz - I can sympathize with wanting your office to look nice and sophisticated. If you're going to be entertaining clients or something (or even having coworkers drop in) you want all the details to be right.

So I would suggest skipping the standard porcelain mugs all together. Instead, why not get some clear glass coffee mugs like they have in restaurants? They look really cool and unique, but also professional because they won't have any weird pictures or sayings on them! And since they're clear, they'll go with any kind of decor you have in your office.

By Perdido — On Oct 20, 2012

Coffee mugs that look like pottery are awesome. When they are really handmade, they are truly unique, and the colors and patterns you get can never be replicated exactly.

I have a couple of sets of pottery mugs. The different glazes make them appear drastically different, and some have hand painted stripes and patterns.

These mugs are fairly tough. I've had a few chip on the edge when I dropped them, but they never shatter.

By Oceana — On Oct 20, 2012

I love websites that let you design your own coffee mug. You pay to have it printed and shipped to you, but all the design work is in your hands.

Sometimes, it's as simple as submitting a photo of your child or pet and having the company print it onto the cup. Other times, you may want to come up with a funny phrase and choose your own fonts and colors for it.

I love custom coffee cups. Rarely have I ever found a cup in a store that I just had to have.

By DylanB — On Oct 19, 2012

@Kristee – I thought about getting a big coffee mug like that, because I always drink my coffee on the go. The problem I had was finding one that could fit into the cupholder in my vehicle.

I wound up just buying disposable paper coffee mugs with lids. They hold a lot of coffee, but they are skinny enough to fit into the cupholder. Also, the lids keep coffee from sloshing out when I am driving on a bumpy road or taking sharp turns.

I can microwave them for a few seconds if need be, but I wouldn't leave them in the microwave for a long time. I left one in there for a minute once, and it made my coffee taste like cardboard!

By Kristee — On Oct 18, 2012

@Planch – Thermal coffee mugs are awesome. I have a big one that can hold two cups of coffee, which is the amount I drink throughout the morning.

Even though I have a long commute to work, the thermal mug keeps the coffee warm for a long time. I don't even have to microwave it after a couple of hours.

It's also unbreakable. This is important to me, since I'm clumsy.

By anon116271 — On Oct 06, 2010

It is odd walking into an office and seeing a coffee mug with some cheesy saying on it. I suggest getting something porcelain, ceramic or stainless depending on the environment you are in.

By googlefanz — On Aug 19, 2010

What are some good, modern coffee mugs for an office? I really hate all those chintzy printed coffee mugs (seriously, is there some sort of cheesy clip-art requirement when it comes to printing coffee mugs?)

I want my office to look sophisticated, right down to the mugs.

Does anybody have any tips?

By Charlie89 — On Aug 19, 2010

I always think its funny to see all the weird gift and promo coffee mugs in people's offices. My very favorite coffee mug of all time was in a colleague's office in Hong Kong. It had a nice cartoony farm scene with the words "Charisma...Dignity...Hi-Calcium Lo-Fat Milk Powder" emblazoned across it. I think that may be a classic case of missing the mark with advertising on coffee mugs.

By Planch — On Aug 19, 2010

Who knew there were so many different kinds of coffee mugs? I think that every coffee drinker has their favorite one though.

For me, I can't go anywhere without my travel thermal coffee mug -- I drive a lot, and its impractical to carry porcelain coffee cups or mugs.

I don't like the way that stainless steel coffee mugs make the coffee taste, so for me, it's thermal plastic all the way.

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