Ember Mugs, Tumblers, and Cups! - Full Review
If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet searching for the perfect coffee mug then you’ve surely come across an Ember mug.
You may even have seen these in Apple stores.
At a whopping $100 for the 6z version and up to $200 for the travel version, are these smart mugs worth the coin or is it yet another needlessly “smartified” product?
Before we get started, some quick disclaimers.
Now you might be wondering, “wait a minute, didn’t you just do some sponsored content with them” to which I’ll say yes, I did.
However, this review is not within the scope of that sponsored content, obviously,
So while I have done work with them in the past and some of these products were sent to me for free, this video is my completely honest and unbiased opinion.
Actually, these mugs here were purchased by myself long before I’ve worked with Ember.
So with that being said, take that for what you will and let’s move on with the review.
Okay so Ember claims to be the world’s first temperature controlled mug. And there are 3 main types of products that Ember produces at the time of this video.
The first being the mug, the second being the travel mug, and the third being this recently introduced cappuccino sized cup. Which is basically the regular mug with a handleless design and a smaller 6oz capacity.
As with any review, let’s first start with the build quality of each of these products.
All of the products are made of mostly a premium feeling metal build quality. The metallic versions of the mugs do feel the same as the non metallic versions with a more gloss like finish and obviously the metallic like look to it.
All of the mugs have a noticeable heft to them due to the electronic components being in the bottom of the mug.
The power buttons are also located on the bottom with a rubber coating and metal rings surround the button which act as contact points for the charging coasters.
Also, the mugs do seem to be interchangeable between the different coasters.
Here I have the older v1 coaster, the newer v2 coaster, the coaster that comes with the new Ember cup which does seem to be the same as the v2 coaster, and the coaster for the travel mug which is a different design.
Weirdly enough, all the products seem to work with all of the chargers. Which makes me wonder why this was done since from a manufacturing perspective, I’d assume it would be easier to stick to one design that fits all.
Anyway, moving on from that all the coasters are color matched to the mug that comes with it. For the travel mug, that just means black only.
The travel mug also has a unique feature that is different from all the other products and that is the LED matrix display and touch functionality.
It works very, very well. With a single touch to the Ember logo to turn on and see the temp, a second touch allows you to then adjust the temperature, a third touch let’s you see the name of the mug which can be modified in the app, and a fourth touch let’s you see the battery life.
The touch has a little audible click that almost gives the sensation of something akin to apple’s haptic feedback on their trackpads, weirdly enough.
One thing I don’t like about the travel mug is the lid. For a $200 mug, this lid feels oddly cheap. Being a simple piece of plastic with a little push functionality.
Because of the materials and design choices used here, the black products are a bit fingerprinty. The white and metallic ones, not as much. However after nearly 2 years of use, there is a noticeable discoloration inside the white mug that I managed to mostly get clean with a cafiza soak.
In terms of usability, these mugs are on the easier side of smart devices to use. Pairing is made simple with pressing the button underneath the mug til it glows blue, putting it into pairing mode.
Once connected on the phone the app automatically shows the product connected (down to the correct color which is nice) and immediately allows you to use the temperature control feature.
The app has a very clean and modern UI that lets you control the temperature easily in either fahrenheit or celsius and also indicates whether or not there is any liquid in the cup.
Since owning one of these mugs for 2 years now, I have had no issues with software or glitches to date.
The mug works perfect for what it is, a mug. One thing to note though is that the advertised capacity does mean filling until it is nearly at the very most top of the mug so realistically if you have a 10oz mug like I do, I’m filling more to like 8-9oz just to give a little bit of headroom and prevent spillage.
Moving onto the cup, the cappuccino sized capacity is great and ergonomically feels fine to hold when pouring latte art into it. However there is one thing to note with regards to milky based drinks in these mugs and its that the additional heating does cause you to lose texture faster.
Take a look at this comparison between flat whites poured as close to at the same time as possible and set on the table.
In a few minutes you can see the one in the Ember mug losing its texture and basically turning into a much more water-like feel but does retain temperature.
The other cup maintains the texture better but of course loses temperature faster.
So it is a bit of a give and take with regards to milk based drinks. Given that the mugs are designed to maintain a perfect drinking temperature it is interesting that with a milk based drink, you would also potentially have to consume it faster than you would normally.
Seems a bit counterintuitive given the point of retaining heat would be to allow consuming the drink for a longer period of time. Or in this case, at a more preferred temperature.
Now moving onto the travel mug, as mentioned earlier the touch functionality here does work surprisingly well. Compare it to say something like those Sony or Bose headphones with touch functionality on the earcups - I’ve just never found those to work particularly well in my opinion.
One thing I have noticed is that if you are grabbing the mug out of a bag or in a darker environment you can be prone to misclicking the logo - I’ve grown accustomed to just grabbing the mug by the lower half only to avoid that.
Another thing to note about this one is that it is designed for traveling. I brought a fully charged mug with me to a flight from Boston to Florida and the battery lasted about the duration of the flight plus and an hour or so prior within the airport. In total, about 3 to maybe 3.5 hours.
I would assume with the added insulation this mug offers that it has a prolonged battery life due to not losing as much heat through an exposed top like the mugs would.
Another thing to consider with this is that it is designed for travel which also means you need to bring the charger and coaster along with you if you’re intending to use it beyond your initial means of transport.
That can be a little annoying and it would have been nice to see maybe the option of USB-C charging protected by a little rubber flap or something along the bottom. But that’s just me personally.
Okay so in terms of temperature control, these mugs are outstanding, nothing short of magical for your morning coffee drinking experience.
In all mugs I have noticed since the heating element comes from the bottom, your last sips generally are just a little bit warmer than the rest of the cup.
In terms of precision, I have noticed about a 1-2 degree fahrenheit variance in the cup but accounting for that variance in the app is easy enough to just increase or decrease temps by a degree or so.
All the mugs here perform equally well and I would be happy owning any one of these products.
No product is without its faults and there are a few things I would like to see in future iterations of this mug.
Firstly I think the ergonomics of the handle could be improved on the mugs. I have noticed they are a little thin and on the smaller side, with me being able to only fit 3 fingers comfortably through the grip.
Second, specifically for the tumbler, I think a redesigned lid that matches the quality and price tag of this mug would be better. This plastic lid definitely takes away from the premium feel.
Finally, having a standardized charging coaster would be great between the travel mug and other products - but that’s really just being nitpicky since your average consumer probably won’t have every version of the Ember mug out there.
Is it worth it?
So finally, is the Ember mug worth it? Let’s go through it one product at a time and discuss their strengths and downfalls and if I think the product might be for you.
Okay so starting with the new cheapest addition, the Ember Cup, at $100 for a 6oz handleless - do I think its worth it?
I’m going to say no on this one if your intention is a cappuccino, flat white, or other milk based drink where the texture is important.
While the mug does what it is designed to do very well, constantly heating a milk based drink does destroy the nice texture you try to achieve through steaming the milk.
So while the intention is to allow you to drink your beverage at the perfect temp for much longer, it also takes away from the texture aspect making you want to drink it much sooner.
Unfortunately it does seem like there is no good way to prolong both the temperature and texture of a milk based drink where the texture is important to the beverage.
If however you are a tea drinker or prefer smaller cups and pouring into it with a carafe, then I can definitely recommend this size Ember product.
Next, the mug. The mugs are absolutely worth it in my opinion. They are Ember’s best products and it is nothing short of magical having a consistently warm cup of coffee 2 or even 3 hours into the morning.
And finally, the travel mug. This one I have mixed feelings on. I do like the convenience of it holding a hot drink at the perfect temp throughout something like a flight, but the annoyance of having to bring the charger and coaster around is a big downside in my opinion.
If let’s say you do have this and you commute to work, use it at your workplace, and commute home - it may be worth having a second coaster at the workplace which will set you back another $40 on top of a $200 mug already.
They do also sell a sipping lid and halo lid for the travel mug, although if they are the same build quality as the included lid then I do see that being a bit pricey for what it is.
There is also the 24K gold halo lid but I feel like that one is self explanatory.
So while a nice convenience to have on commutes, I think for $200, my money is better well spent on a solid insulated regular travel thermos.
So anyway, that is going to be my review of all of Ember’s current product offerings from the cup to the mug and travel mug!