Best Cups of 2021
We tested a few double-wall glass options for this review, but the Epare Mug Set is by far our favorite. It is an incredible option, boasting simplicity and class. This set is lightweight and versatile and provides some of the best insulation of any mug tested. When filled with hot liquid, the outside stays cool, while the drinks remain warm for long periods of time. Though the handle shape and overall design are similar to the other double-wall glass mugs we reviewed, we prefer this contender's ergonomics. The handle shape is more rectangular, which fits a variety of hand sizes.
Because it's made from glass, it is more delicate and requires a little extra care. If durability is a concern, then this may be one to shy away from. However, if you are interested in a timeless and classic design that offers excellent insulation with an ergonomic grasp, this one will have you covered.
The LIFVER 18-Ounce Coffee Mug is a solid, versatile, and well-insulated set of mugs with a reasonable price tag. If you're moving into a new home or need to outfit a kitchen, this is a great option. For a reasonable price, you get six colorful porcelain mugs. We like the handle shape and overall size, which will happily hold a large volume of tea, soup, or coffee. The sides warm up nicely when filled but don't become so scalding that it's impossible to pick up. The set of six comes in a variety of colors. The wide mouth works well for a pour-over or Aeropress coffee maker too, which is a plus.
If you don't like bright colors or are looking for a muted design, you may want to look elsewhere. The LIFVER mugs are big, loud, and bright, which is not everyone's "cup of tea". They also have a heavier design, which some may love and some may not. If you're in the market for a great deal on a large, loud cup set that'll add a splash of color to your kitchen, this is on the top of our list.
These lightweight, cappuccino-sized glass mugs stole our hearts. We love its small capacity and tall walls. Unlike other cappuccino cups, which tend to be shallow and low to the table, the JoyJolt Savor is tall and slender. We love the handle size, which offers a nice and proportional fit, and its taller stature. The double-wall glass design is very well insulated, keeping coffee warmer longer than a traditional cappuccino mug. We also love the lightweight design. Cleaning is easy, as it can go in the washer, and hand cleaning is simple too. Finally, if you are into latté art, these mugs are for you. Their wide mouth makes it easy to pour milk foam to create a creation of our preference.
The JoyJolt Savor comes in a set of two. Unfortunately, they come at a fairly high cost which isn't ideal for all. For us, this felt worth the cost because of the quality construction and insulation. For those that love a well-made cappuccino cup, this is our first choice.
The sleek and stylish W&P Porter is our favorite to-go mug. We are pleased to find a portable option that is ceramic yet still durable. Plus, it fits into a car cup holder — which is a major plus. It's small, with only a 12-ounce capacity, but it's so stylish and has such a nice feel that we didn't mind. The lid fits snugly and has an excellent slide closure mechanism. We also appreciate that the silicone sleeve is easy to remove if needed for cleaning purposes. Because it is ceramic inside, it doesn't trap flavors or hold smells. We also appreciate its level of insulation. It doesn't conduct heat when full of boiling water, and the lid and silicone sleeve help keep contents warm for long periods.
The W&P Porter has a pretty small capacity. With the lid on, it holds even less liquid than its claimed 12 ounces since the silicone gasket is inset in the lid and seals on the inside of the mug. The other downside is that this mug is not entirely leakproof. It can't be tossed in a bag with tea in it — it's more like a portable mug for the second cup of coffee that you didn't quite finish. For those looking for a mug on the go, this ceramic option is one to take a gander at.
The classy, beaker-like design of the Tomotime Glass tea infuser had us drinking way more tea than we usually do. It features a single-wall glass design with an oversized handle, stainless steel infuser, and a glass lid. We love the overall construction and especially like how the infuser is held in place by a silicone gasket. The lid keeps your tea hot when steeping and also provides a platform for the infuser when it's time to remove the leaves. We enjoy drinking from it since the large handle kept our hands away from the hot sides of the cup itself.
Because it is glass, the Tomotime is delicate. It also comes with three separate parts — the lid, the infuser, and the mug itself. This design requires some attention to detail when cleaning and for storage. Some folks may not like drinking directly from the glass mug, as it gets hot over time. Our testers often transferred the tea to a separate mug after steeping it in the Tomotime. If you are seeking a steeper for your tea, this is worth checking out.
The DOWAN Coffee Mug is for folks who drink their coffee slowly and often find themselves halfway finished with their first cup before they have to head out the door. The DOWAN is ideal for this type of morning person because the mug looks classy in a kitchen, but also has a lid and a reinforced bottom, which make it a reasonable to-go option, as well. It looks good sitting on a desk at work, but also fits in just fine in a cupboard among other classy drinking vessels. The reinforced bottom is made from cork, which gives it a unique aesthetic. The combination of materials doesn't affect the insulation, but the cork bottom does mean it's quiet when it's set down on a table. We also liked the feel of the oversized handle.
This mug falls short when it comes to insulation. The DOWAN mug gets extremely hot on the outside when filled with hot liquid, making it hard to pick up initially. This was a major bummer because it also means that it loses heat more quickly than other mugs. We also had a little bit of an issue with the ridge on the inside, which is where the lid rests. This is mostly an aesthetic issue, but it also seems to collect grime, making it hard to clean. The final issue we had came toward the end of our test period when the cork bottom detached from the main ceramic portion of the mug. Overall, if you like the aesthetic of this contender, we say go for it, as it's versatile in use, despite its caveats.
Very similar to our top choice, the Sweese double-wall glass mug has many qualities that we love and appreciate. It's lightweight and stylish, with a large capacity. The Sweese mugs are also extremely well-insulated, keeping hot beverages warm for long periods without transferring too much heat to the outside walls. The handle shape is big enough for the average person to fit three fingers through, and the wide mouth makes it easy to clean by hand, though these mugs are also dishwasher safe.
We prefer the Epare glass mugs to the Sweese for a few reasons. The Sweese mugs are slightly bulkier and have thicker walls that make the mug feel clunky in comparison to the classy Epare. The Sweese also seemed to get dirtier, and the glass became gummed up and opaque after a few weeks of use. If you're not a fan of our top contenders and like the style of the Sweese instead, this is another double-walled glass product to hone in on.
They are small, sleek, classy, and high-quality, which won them major points in our book. Though we tested the espresso-sized version for this review (which means they only held three ounces of liquid), the Fellow Monty comes in a variety of sizes. Their double-wall ceramic construction makes them extremely durable and well insulated. Most notably, in terms of design, is the Fellow's metal foot, which allows the mug to rest above the table and stack well together. For those who are addicted to their espresso machine, like us, these are for you. If drip coffee or tea is more your thing, then the Fellow mugs may not be the ideal choice.
The biggest downside is their small size and specific use. Many of us do not have infinite space in our kitchens for items that only get used occasionally. The other downside is their small size; this means that heat escapes quickly and that they are only useful for espresso shots. They are also relatively expensive compared to other products in this review. If you love espresso, these cups are for you.
Morning coffee, afternoon tea, even an after-dinner bowl of ice cream. Any of these activities are suitable for the Sweese Porcelain Stackable Cappuccino set; this is the only set that comes with its own storage rack, which adds a fun vibe to any kitchen set up and makes it feel like you and your guests are at an Italian café rather than just your dining room. We used these mugs most often when we had friends over since the set comes with four cups and four saucers. We even used these mugs as mini ice cream bowls.
The main downside to the Sweese set is their lack of insulation. Because they are so shallow, they tend to let off heat quickly, and their contents cool down quicker than a deeper mug. We also found their storage rack to be bulky. This set really only makes sense if you have plenty of counter space to proudly display the rack.
Simple in shape, size, and color, the Lifcapido Coffee Mug set is a no-nonsense option for those who do not want to over-think their next kitchen purchase. These mugs are fairly thick-walled, making them durable and well insulated. They keep their contents warm for a long time and don't become too hot to touch during the process. We like how they appear to be plain, with their matte black finish, but have a splash of color on the inside to keep things interesting. The handle shape is ergonomic and simple but doesn't really allow room for more than three fingers. These mugs can be washed in the dishwasher and come in a set of six, making them great for families or groups.
What makes these mugs great for their simplicity also makes them a bit basic in terms of design and overall feel. The Lifecapido set is straightforward and, compared to some of the more novel options in this review, a little bit boring. In all realms of our testing metric, they performed well, but they lacked a "wow factor" for us.
The Tomotime Ceramic gets props for its uniqueness and flair. If you are an avid tea drinker, this mug is a great way to jazz up your tea routine. Our favorite aspects are its ceramic tea infuser and fitted ceramic lid. This feature set is unique and gives it a solid, timeless feel. It is also well-insulated and doesn't get too hot when filled with boiling water. The handle is positioned such that it keeps your hand away from the sides of the mug anyway, so accidentally touching scalding ceramic is not a concern with this mug.
It's aesthetically unique, which also means it's not for everyone. The Tomotime Ceramic has a wooden handle and an all-ceramic construction. We liked the ceramic aspect of its design but were not totally sold on the wooden handle. Dishes with wooden elements are typically not dishwasher-safe. We also found that when filled with water, the ceramic infuser actually takes up quite a lot of space inside the mug, which reduces its liquid capacity by a lot.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our lead tester, Jane Jackson, loves hot drinks and has a unique perspective when it comes to the minute features of a mug. Additionally, she is a household ware guru, testing other kitchen items from mixing bowls to roasting pans to soup bowls. This review, especially, is close to Jane's heart, as she is rarely found without an array of mugs strewn across her desk. She was not on her own in assessing the performance of these items, though. She included feedback from friends, roommates, and her fiancé to finalize the results of this review.
To test the performance of these vessels, we drank a lot of tea and coffee. We made sure to use each contender in a variety of settings, from a morning espresso drink to an after-dinner cup of tea to see how each one performed in an array of diverse applications. Testers with varying hand sizes and personal preferences assessed the functionality of each mug's handle and overall shape. We then weighed each model and compared their heat-conduction properties, using boiling water and a timer. Finally, we assessed the ease of cleaning for each set — both by hand and using the dishwasher, depending on the vessel's design. Hours of research and hands-on testing allowed us to confidently deliver our assessment of the best and worst mugs on the market.
Analysis and Test Results
To assess the performance of these drinking vessels, we used the following five metrics: thermal conductivity, handle size and shape, weight, ergonomics and feel, and ease of cleaning. These categories allowed us to narrow in on the features that make or break a cup.
We use the same method for testing cups as we did for our bowl review in this metric. Both mugs and bowls are meant to do the same thing in terms of thermal conductivity — keep heat in, while simultaneously keeping the outside surface from getting too hot to touch. To standardize this test, we poured boiling water into each one and let it sit for two minutes. After two minutes passed, we checked the outside walls and the temperature of the water. This simulates hot tea or coffee in a standardized way. Surprisingly, the double-wall glass mugs, like the Epare, Sweese, and JoyJolt performed the best in this metric. Their double-wall design proved to be the best in keeping the heat in without transferring to the outside of the vessel.
In terms of ceramic mugs, the top performers were the W&P Porter, which has a ceramic body with a silicone sleeve, and the LIFVER set. The Fellow Monty is fairly substantial and also claims a double-wall design, but because it is so small, heat escaped fairly quickly. The Sweese Porcelain Stackable set also lacked in terms of insulation, and our hot beverages often felt lukewarm after a few minutes.
Handle Size and Shape
The design and shape of the handle dictate a lot about how a mug performs. The handle protects one's hand from touching the scalding side of the mug and provides a convenient way to pick it up. We tested each one's performance in this metric by getting opinions from folks with lots of different-sized hands. A handle that works for a small-handed person may look like a toy in the hands of a giant. We assessed how many fingers each tester could fit through the handle and whether or not it protected the user's hands from the sidewalls of the mug. In general, we preferred mugs that had larger handles since they are more versatile for a wide variety of hand sizes.
Our favorite handles are found on the Epare glass mugs. These handles are rectangular in shape and provide plenty of room for three or four fingers. The handle on the Tomotime Glass is large, but made from thin glass; its elegant feel was one of our favorites. The LIFVER mug has a rounded, more traditional handle which we also liked. On the other end of the spectrum are the smaller cappuccino mugs that have equally small handles. The JoyJolt Savor has a small handle, but it is spaced far enough from the mug that two fingers still fit through it easily. The Tomotime Ceramic has a massive wooden handle that is fairly unique and ended up being a bit of an acquired taste among our testers.
The feel of a drinking vessel has a lot to do with its weight. Many people are drawn to their favorite mug simply because of how satisfying the weight feels in their hands. This metric was simple to test. We placed each individual mug on a scale and recorded its weight in ounces. The range is great since there is a wide variety of liquid capacities among these mugs. The lightest options out there typically have a double-wall glass design. The very lightest mug we reviewed is the JoyJolt Savor, weighing in at 4.66 ounces. Close behind is the Fellow Monty, at 5.15 ounces — but this little espresso cup has a much smaller capacity than the JoyJolt. The full-sized double-wall glass mugs from Epare and Sweese both weigh in just above eight ounces.
In terms of full-sized mugs, the Tomotime Glass tea infuser set weighs in at 9.45 ounces. This is extremely light in comparison to its ceramic counterpart — the Tomotime Ceramic, with a measured weight of 16.76 ounces. Similarly, each one in the LIFVER set weighs 15.06 ounces.
Ergonomics and Materials
The final set of features that separate one's favorite everyday drinking vessel from the forgotten mug in the back of the cupboard are its shape and materials used in its construction. For this metric, we assessed how each one felt in our hand — its shape, size, and the materials used in its construction. After grilling our fellow testers on what they like and don't like about each option, we were able to come up with a few criteria that separate the top-tier products from the bottom-shelf options. First is the texture of the mug, how it feels in the hands. Our testers liked the smooth, delicate feel of the double-wall glass mugs a lot, especially the Epare, which has a slightly thicker lip than the Sweese, which more people preferred to drink from. The W&P Porter feels very satisfying when held with its textured silicone sleeve and smooth ceramic lip.
For a classic, cozy tea mug, our testers preferred the LIFVER to the Lifecapido because of its shape and the subtle lip that protrudes from the rim. The DOWAN was a polarizing option among our testers — some people loved the mixed materials and cork bottom, and others did not.
Ease of Cleaning
For this metric, we cleaned the mugs by hand using the dishwasher. Some are easy to give a quick rinse, while others take a bit more attention to detail to get fully clean. Again, the double-wall glass options excelled in this metric, since they were easy to clean by hand and always came out of the dishwasher gleaming. The wide mouth of the Sweese Glass and the Epare made them easy to clean with a dish brush. The ceramic mugs, like the LIFVER and the Lifecapido were also easy to clean due to their simple design.
As the design gets more complex, the ease of cleaning score goes down. This became evident when we washed the W&P Porter and the DOWAN mugs, which both come with lids. We found it challenging to get into all the nooks and crannies found on the lids of these to-go mugs. We also ran into a major issue with the DOWAN after a trip through the dishwasher — the cork bottom of this mug completely detached after a wash cycle. It is recommended that this mug only be washed by hand.
Though much of this review comes down to the personal preferences of our testers, we feel that we were able to gain a good understanding of the pros and cons of each mug based on a compilation of each person's impressions. The objective tests we performed, that of thermal conductivity and weight, were able to give us hard numbers to compare, while the more subjective tests allowed us to assess the feel and ergonomics that are more challenging to put numbers to. In the end, we hope this review gives you some clarity on what to look for in your search for a new drinking vessel.
— Jane Jackson