What Is the Best Material to Use for Coffee Cups?

Most people wonder if the material of the coffee cup influences your coffee experience. What is the best material to use for coffee cups? Read on to learn more.

Best Material To Use For Coffee Cups
Coffee cups makes a huge impact on how to enjoy your coffee

It is normal for coffee junkies to invest heavily in the coffee beans of their choice and coffee maker or any other brewing machine. However, most forget about the coffee mugs. As such, people settle for any coffee mug as long as it serves the purpose of holding coffee.

This should not be the case; the thing is, the material of your coffee mug makes a huge difference in how you enjoy your coffee.

So what is the best material for coffee cups? First, notice that our market is currently flooded with coffee cups made of materials including; glass, ceramic, plastic, stoneware, melamine, china, paper, enamel, and Styrofoam. Out of all the materials mentioned, the best material for your coffee cup is Ceramic.

Why? To start, all these materials but ceramic affect the taste of your coffee. Therefore, if the taste of your coffee is altered, what good is it brewing? For the best coffee, consider using a ceramic coffee cup.

This article will look at each of the material mentioned above in details. Keep reading to learn more about why ceramic is the best material, other factors other than material to consider when purchasing a coffee cup and other coffee cup related questions.

Why Is Ceramic The Best Material For Coffee Cups?

One of the main reasons that make ceramic coffee cups the best for your brew is that ceramic is a neutral material. As such, when the hot brew is poured into the cup, the ceramic material does not release or absorb flavors from your coffee. This means that you will enjoy your drink, as you wanted it to be.

Other than flavor, a cup made of ceramic-like this will retain the heat of the coffee for longer as compared to other materials. Therefore, you do not have to stress about topping your coffee for it to remain hot. Still, on heat, ceramic coffee cups disperse the heat well throughout the coffee.

If you are looking for a durable coffee cup, then the ceramic ones will do you justice. The coffee cups made of ceramic material hardly break and they often outlast other coffee cups made of different materials. Also, due to their toughness, you can always be at ease when placing your cup of coffee in a microwave without having to worry about it chipping.

This toughness also makes the cups dishwasher-friendly.

In terms of style and design, ceramic coffee cups come in different designs to fit your personal preference. However, the shortcoming of ceramic material for coffee cups, is that it tends to stain easily

What Are Other Materials You Can Consider For Coffee Cups?

Other than ceramic, which as mentioned above is the best material for coffee cups, you can consider using coffee cups made of the following materials

  • Glass
water, glass, liquid
Coffee mugs made of glass are considered fashionable and stylish

Unlike the popular opinion that glasses break when exposed to high temperatures like those of coffee, this specific glass does not. The reason is the glass used to make coffee mugs is treated. Therefore, you can use the glass to serve your favorite hot brew.

Coffee mugs made of glass are considered fashionable and stylish since they allow you to see the layers of your coffee. Other than fashion, these cups are also good if you do not want the taste of your coffee altered. Moreover, coffee glasses hardly stain, so you do not have to worry about the tedious process of cleaning them.

Just like ceramic coffee cups, glass coffee cups like this have their challenges. For starters, since the material is glass, it tends to heat up quickly which means if you do not use the handle you may burn your fingers.

Other than that, the temperature of the coffee poured into a glass, tends to decrease quickly. Therefore, if you are looking to take your coffee slowly, a coffee glass is not a good idea.

Another shortcoming is that the glass material is fragile. It can break when it falls, when placed in the dishwasher or when exposed to extremely high temperatures beyond its capacity.

  • Stainless Steel
Coffee and Cup
Coffee mugs made of stainless steel can retain temperature for a long period of time

Coffee mugs or cups made of stainless steel mostly travel coffee mugs or thermos. Stainless steel is made of iron mixed with carbon and chromium. This combination makes it resistant to rust and enhances its strength making it hard to break.

Using stainless steel has its advantages. To start, stainless steel coffee cups retain the temperature of the coffee for a very long time. This is because steel is an insulator.

It also explains why stainless steel is used to make travel mugs.

That said thou, stainless steel mugs are more expensive as compared to mugs made of other materials. However, the cost can be explained by the fact that they come with a handle and a lid to prevent spills.

Other than the cost, another downside to coffee cups made of steel is that these mugs alter the taste of your coffee. Coffee experts attribute this to the metal material leeching into the coffee. Other experts believe that the change in flavor could be because of the steel metal reacting with a compound of coffee. 

  • Hard Plastic

If you are looking for the best material for recyclable coffee cups, hard plastic may be very useful to you. Other than being renewable, coffee cups made of plastic are durable since plastic cannot be corroded and it takes hundreds of years for it to break down into elements 

However, using coffee cups made of plastic is not a good idea and it is highly discouraged. Firstly, plastic is not environmentally friendly, this means it will pollute the environment which is one of the greatest menaces in the world today.

Also, plastic cups significantly impact the taste of the coffee. Listen, if you are keen on the fine notes of your coffee, then stay away from plastic coffee cups. They also do not retain the temperature of coffee for long.

  • Stoneware

Did you know there are coffee mugs made of stoneware? Stoneware consists of a blend of clay, flint, and stone. It is a rare material and is very different from other materials used to make coffee cups.

Coffee cups made of stoneware are preferred due to many reasons. One, these cups appear to be made by hand, therefore, bringing out a touch of exotic in their appearance. The coffee mugs are also very durable.

It is very hard for a stoneware coffee mug to break or even chip

The cups are also made to withstand very high temperatures of coffee. As such, you can rest assured you will not have to warm your coffee if you are using a stoneware mug. When it comes to cleaning these cups, it is a walk in the park.

The stoneware material does not stain hence it is easy to clean the coffee cups made of this material.

  • Melamine Material

In case you are working on a tight budget, which is normal, you may want to consider coffee cups made of melamine. These coffee cups are one of the most affordable yet functional in the market today.

Melamine coffee cups will keep your coffee hot for a long since the melamine material is an insulator. This also means that the cup does not become hot with time making it uncomfortable for your hands.

These coffee cups are built for durability. They are resistant to any type of breaking. As such, they are dishwasher friendly making your cleaning job easier.

Just like any other material, melamine has its struggles. In this case, the coffee cups are not suitable for use in the microwave since the material is susceptible to break when reheated

  • Paper
Coffee and Cup
Paper Coffee Cups

Paper coffee cups are made for mobility where a travel coffee mug is not suitable. Other than mobility, these are among the worst materials to use for your coffee.

First, the paper absorbs the odors and flavors of coffee. Second, a paper cup does not maintain the hotness of your drink for long. It is also fragile and may spill your coffee with the slightest accident.

  • China

If you are looking for a classy presence on your next coffee sitting, then you should consider purchasing China cups. A China cup is what I would describe as a charmer, they are attractive, and carry an ambiance of state-of-the-art material.

However, these cups are not durable, the slightest accident may cause them to chip and sometimes break. Therefore, you want to be extra careful when handling them. The china material is highly fragile and therefore needs intense maintenance.

Factors To Consider When Selecting A Coffee Mug

Selecting a coffee mug of your choice does not end at the materials. Sometimes the process may seem long and daunting. Do not worry we have done all the hard work for you.

The following are factors you may consider when selecting a coffee mug.

  • Volume

How much coffee do you take in a single sitting? The size of your coffee mug will range from small to medium to big. Typically, coffee mugs hold 12- 30 ounces. Therefore, whatever mug you settle for it should fit your coffee intake in a day and a sitting.

For instance, if you prefer to take your coffee as you attend to other activities, like office work, you should opt for the small size of a coffee cup, probably one that can hold 10 ounces. This will ensure you take your coffee within a short period without having to take it when it gets cold.

If you are a heavy coffee drinker, it is recommended you get a bigger cup of coffee. This will save you the trouble of having to refill your cup now and then.

Still on volume, for iced coffee, you may need a bigger mug to hold the coffee and the ice.

  • Features 

Features look at the construction of the coffee mug. An example if you prefer your coffee cup or mug without a handle, you might have to select one with a double wall. This ensures that your hands are safe from being burnt by the high temperatures.

Other features include a footed coffee cup and a coffee cup with a lid among others

  • Intended Use

Choose a coffee cup depending on your intended use. A coffee cup to be used for espresso is different from one to be used for regular coffee. 

If you are looking for an espresso coffee cup, consider one with thicker walls to retain the heat of the drink. The ideal capacity for espresso coffee cups is 3.4oz and the cups should not have decoration, especially on the inside surface.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a traveler coffee mug, consider a cup that has high heat retention capacity and a cup with a lid to avoid spills.

  • Special Function

Some coffee mugs have special features that enable them to perform special functions. Therefore, depending on the special function of your liking you can choose a coffee mug. A good example is the pour-over coffee cup that allows you to brew coffee in it and take your coffee from the same cup.

Other special function coffee mugs include cups that embrace the latest trends with an example of the coffee cup that resembles a camera lens

When picking the latest trending design, or novelty, make sure the design you pick is realistic, durable in terms of functionality, and will be easy to clean

Related Questions

Does coffee in a white cup taste better? 

Coffee in a white cup does not necessarily taste better. The thing is, there is a slight difference in taste between coffee poured into a white cup and coffee poured into a cup with a darker shade.

According to extensive research done by experts, coffee poured into a white cup is bold and more intense. The coffee can easily pass for a bitter taste. On the other hand, coffee placed in a mug of darker color has a sweeter taste, and the intensity if coffee is mild as compared to that of the coffee in a white cup.

So depending on your preference, choose the color of your coffee mugs wisely.

Can coffee mugs be toxic for use? 

Yes, coffee mugs regardless of the material of the mug can be toxic. This is because most materials used to make coffee mugs contain lead and cadmium. Lead is used to make the mugs look shiny and smooth while cadmium is best for giving the dishes a brighter color. Therefore, these toxic metals are unavoidable.

Coffee, on the other hand, is acidic, making the process of leaching cadmium and lead quicker. Eventually, we end up consuming these toxic chemicals in our hot drinks. Another way of making the leaching process quicker is by placing these cups in a microwave.

If you can, avoid using coffee mugs with lead or cadmium. However, since it is almost unavoidable you may opt to avoid the means to quicken the leaching process.

Does a coffee glass mug contain these toxic chemicals? 

Yes, even your coffee glass may contain lead and cadmium if they have painting decorations or colors. Therefore, when it comes to a coffee mug made of glass, choose the glass without any writing or decoration. It is the only way you can be sure that you are safe from ingesting toxins.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.