Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Coffee Mugs: What’s Best?

We all know that coffee mugs are essential for coffee lovers. This article gives you the key differences between porcelain vs. ceramic coffee mugs.

Porcelain vs. ceramic coffee mugs
Porcelain vs. Ceramic Coffee Mugs

When choosing a coffee mug, you may grab the wittiest one off the shelf. However, I recommend also paying close attention to what the mug is made out of. In most cases, porcelain and ceramic aren’t going to perform much differently.

But they do have some key differences. We’ll take a look at those differences below.

What Are Porcelain And Ceramic Coffee Mugs?

Porcelain is an expensive type of ceramic. However, pottery, earthenware, and stoneware all fall into the ceramic category as well. In other words, porcelain is just a “fancy” type of ceramic.

The finer, smooth texture characterizes porcelain. Both ceramic and porcelain mugs are usually covered with a glaze. Porcelain should feel pretty glass-like when made right, while ceramic can vary from smooth to rough.

Often FancierMany varieties
Can come with any glazeAvailable with nearly any glaze; “Casual” 
Smaller wallsThicker walls
DenserMore susceptible to overheating
SmoothCan have rougher walls

What Porcelain And Ceramic Have In Common

A person making clay pot.
Porcelain and ceramic mugs are made out of clay

Both of these materials are made out of clay. They are the result of firing clay at a specific temperature.

The exact temperature and technique do differ for both, though. That’s what makes them different! Neither of these materials is glass – arguably the best material to drink coffee out of. 

The glazes used on both mug types will be the same. If you get any leftover flavor in your coffee, it’ll be from the glaze. The coffee never actually touches the material – just the glaze.

If a stoneware and a porcelain mug have the same glaze, they’ll “taste” the same. You might also be interested in our ideas for hanging coffee mugs.

Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Coffee Mugs: The Differences

Porcelain is daintier than ceramic. It also tends to be crafted in a “fancier” manner. Porcelain mugs look nicer.

However, you’re unlikely to find them in a coffee shop. That’s because most coffee shop owners prefer ceramics or stoneware mugs due to their price point and durability. These materials are more casual-looking and not as “high-brow” as ceramic.

They’re your average coffee cup, while porcelain mugs are cut above – if only in how they are designed. Porcelain is often described as smoother and denser.

However, they are sometimes made very thin, which makes them less durable. Porcelain can be made thick, though. It just depends on the design.

What’s Better About Porcelain?

coffee, cup, porcelain
Porcelain mugs are fancy

The main benefit of porcelain is that it tends to look nicer. You can find some very fancy porcelain mugs. If you’re looking for a nicer mug, it’s probably going to be made out of porcelain or glass. 

This trait isn’t necessarily because it’s better, though. Porcelain has just always been considered a “fancy” material. It wasn’t easy to make in ancient times – though that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. 

What’s Better About Ceramic?

Ceramic is cheaper and comes in many different forms. Stoneware and earthenware both count as “ceramic,” for instance. If you’re looking for a more casual mug, ceramic is probably the way you want to go.

There isn’t necessarily anything “better” about ceramic when compared to porcelain. A high-quality ceramic mug will perform similarly to porcelain. After all, it’s mainly about the glaze – not the material of the mug.

Who Should Get A Porcelain Mug?

If you want something fancy, you should probably aim to get a porcelain mug. You will probably end up spending more, but the porcelain will look nicer. These can also be great gifts since they are often a step above your average ceramic mug.

However, be sure you invest in a porcelain mug with a quality glaze. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with a fancy mug that makes your coffee taste bad!

Who Should Get A Ceramic Mug?

I recommend ceramic mugs for those looking for an “everyday” mug. Ceramics is the way to go if you want something functional that will cost you an arm and a leg. Ceramic mugs also come in many more varieties.

They can take on a wide variety of looks. Sometimes, you want a mug that porcelain can’t give you. In these cases, look to ceramic.

Again, be sure you buy a mug with a good glaze. The glaze will affect the taste of the coffee. Ceramic may be cheap, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy one of the higher-end options. 

FAQs About Porcelain vs. Ceramic Coffee Mugs

Are ceramic coffee mugs safe?

Ceramic coffee mugs are generally safe to use. However, there are ceramic mugs that are glazed with lead which can cause lead poisoning. Additionally, the acidity of coffee can increase the chance of lead leaching into your mug.

Can you laser engrave ceramic coffee mugs?

Yes, you can laser engrave ceramic coffee mugs. In fact, you can buy laser-engraved ceramic coffee mugs online or on Amazon. You can order from ANY TEXT Custom Engraved Coffee Mug for a mug with a custom engraved text of your choice.

Do porcelain coffee mugs contain lead?

Lead glazes and paints are banned in the U.S. due to lead poisoning concerns, so porcelain coffee mugs don’t generally contain lead. However, you should still double-check the manufacturing detail.

Are porcelain coffee mugs recyclable?

Ceramic and porcelain coffee mugs cannot be given to recycling facilities, but there are still ways you can recycle your broken mug. If it is not completely shattered, you can use it as a plant pot. You can also donate them to facilities that use recycled bricks.


  • Kristin Hitchcock

    Kristin first fell in love with coffee on a trip to Brazil - where she learned that the ground coffee found on American shelves was not the end-all. Today, she loves educating other coffee-lovers on how to make the best cup of coffee, no matter what you enjoy. Find Kristin on LinkedIn.