how to choose the best coffee mug
The Waka Life Blog

What Mug is Best for What Type of Coffee?

Want to make your coffee drink like a barista? Make sure you serve it in the right mug. Checkout our full coffee-to-mug guide to learn more.

For some odd reason we prefer a certain mug over another when making coffee at home. For certain drinks we choose the tall glass mug, whereas for others we struggle to find that ceramic mug hidden in the back. Is there any difference in what mug or cup we serve our coffee at?

It might purely be psychological or it can be a proven fact, but the material a certain mug is made out of as well as its shape will have an effect on our overall drinking experience. We know to leave the China for special occasions, but when are appropriate times to use the glass and ceramic? Is there a specific scale that determines when to use which material? 

Shopping for coffee mugs? Check out our Amazon coffee mugs guide.

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When it comes down to mugs there are endless possibilities in terms of what they can be made out of. There’s paper, styrofoam, plastic, glass, ceramic, metal, and stainless steel. Even when you narrow the options down to the most common forms, there is still a difference in shapes and sizes. 

Maybe you have a specific mug that you got as a present a couple of years ago from someone who moved across the country. Or a mug that has pictures of all your children and grandchildren. Each mug serves a specific purpose in your home, whether it may be the material or the size. 

Can the mug choice affect the taste of your coffee?

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Based on a study posted in Flavour, we can say that the answer is yes. The color and material of a mug has an effect on the taste of your coffee. The study suggests that:

1. When the color of the mug and the coffee itself contrast each other, people tend to associate the coffee as being bitter.

2. When the mug color pairs nicely with that of the coffee, people are less reluctant to think of the coffee in terms of being bitter and think of it as being sweeter instead.

It is not the color per say that causes us to choose one mug over another. The reason behind this perception is more psychological than not. We tend to associate white mugs with giving the coffee a strong intense taste, whereas if it were a glass mug we would perceive it as having a warm and sweet taste. Oddly enough, blue mugs do not have a specific effect on our coffee tastes. Instead, blue mugs cause us to feel comforted in our own homes with the coffee we made. 

In another study, it was shown that the color of the mug can also affect the perceived temperature of a warm beverage. To test this hypothesis, one hundred and twenty students were given warm coffee served in mugs of different colors (blue, green, yellow, and red). After the coffee was served, they were asked to indicate what beverage they think was the warmest. The results showed that the red mug was evaluated as containing the warmest beverage (38.3%), followed by the yellow (28.3%), the green (20.0%), and the blue (13.3%) mugs.

More often than not we have a favorite mug for our drinks because we associate a happy time with it. The mug might make us reminisce of the location we got the mug at, be enlightened by the inspirational quote, think of our college life, or simply enjoy it because it is the one you use most often and seek consistency (or the one that is usually clean). 


Espresso - Glass Espresso Mug

You don’t want to have too much of an espresso to begin with as they have a reputation of being a very strong brew. When you order an espresso (and actually stay to drink it in the coffee shop) it is served to you in a small ceramic mug to preserve the strength of the beverage. Try using the same type of glasses at the comfort of your home as well. 

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Café au lait - Bol


In France, it is common to drink Café au lait from a bowl and not your typical mug that you would find in the US. The special bowl is called a bol and usually made out of porcelain. When drinking Café au lait one would hold the bol with both hands and drink its contents as if it were a soup. Although this may seem to be the more messier approach to drink coffee it is truly the most authentic and intriguing. 

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Cappuccino/Latte - Jumbo Ceramic Coffee Mug


Cappuccinos and Lattes are best known for their coffee art. How can that art be created to its best without a big platform to work with. Cappuccinos and lattes are best fit with a round ceramic mug since they both contain a lot of milk and there needs to be room for the milk to air out, plus we need all the room possible for that art! The large round mugs are perfect to wrap your fingers around on a cold winter day. 

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Cortado/Turkish Coffee - Ceramic Turkish coffee

A Cortado is an espresso where the strength is cut in half by the addition of warm milk to the brew. The more milk that is added, the weaker the espresso will become. Cortados and Turkish Coffees are usually poured into a 4.5 oz mug.

Typically this type of mug does not have a handle so the person can warm their hands (and bodies) up without having to maneuver around a handle. These coffee drinks are not meant to be drunk very quickly but rather to be savored until the very last drop. With these mugs the drinks can be drunk in sections since it is easy to see how much is left in the cup and if the contents have mixed with each other or not.

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Iced coffee - Highball Glass

We all love a good iced coffee, but how can we enjoy that iced coffee if it is not paired with the perfect mug. For iced coffees, the best way to pair the drink is with a highball glass, or a tall glass. The purpose of the highball glass is to provide the person with a large amount of their favorite drink. It is also good for adding ice cubes to the glass as they have plenty of room for both the coffee and the ice cubes.

When the ice cubes begin to melt they start to form extra water in the brew, causing the drink to need more room to expand. With a highball glass plenty of water, milk, and coffee can be added as needed later on. The glass is also great for cold drinks since it will preserve the temperature of the coffee inside for a while. 

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Instant coffee - Your Favorite Mug/Traveler Mug

Instant coffee is a great way to make fast and delicious coffee at home or on the go. Most of the mugs in your kitchen cabinet are made from ceramics, so choosing one should be the easiest choice for you -- fast and easy just like making instant coffee. These mugs have a smooth, glazed look that’s impossible to resist. 

In addition, most of them have your favorite phrase or picture on them, so there is no better way to start the rather day than drinking coffee from your favorite mug. If you want to take your quality instant coffee on the go, make it in an insulated medium-large double wall, stainless steel traveler mug. It will keep your coffee warm for longer and fit into your car cup holder.

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Mo matter what mug you are using, try our quality instant coffee. Get it here.