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Are ceramic travel mugs good? Top 5 Benefits.

Are ceramic travel mugs good? Top 5 Benefits.

Yasmina Guemar Yasmina Guemar
8 minute read

Are ceramic travel mugs good and are they worth it?

Summary:

If you want a travel mug that doesn't taste of metal or plastic, then YES! Specifically, if you're after better taste, smell, mouth-feel, aesthetics and easier cleaning when compared to uncoated metal or plastic tumbler alternatives, then a ceramic internal mug is an excellent choice. But there are just a couple of caveats. Still, we think they are worth the (usually minimal) extra cost for upgrading your on the go hot drink experience. Are ceramic travel mugs good? Read on and let us know what YOU think. 


 

Introduction

In the evolution of reusable coffee cups, travel mugs and tumblers, the last couple years have seen an increase in ceramic coated options. These usually claim improved flavour and aroma, retaining the unadulterated flavour of your drink whilst preventing the off smells and flavours associated with plastic based cups and some metal ones. They are also marketed as being easier to clean and less likely to stain, all a welcoming thought for coffee-enthusiasts.

Sorry. Did we say 'CERAMIC'? Ok- that's a lie! These cups are not actually ceramic. They are usually stainless steel cups coated with a thin layer of 'ceramic' internally. The internal coating may extend all the way to the top lip of your tumbler or it may stop a fraction of the way below, showing the stainless steel underneath, it all depends on the individual design.

'Ceramic'= not actual ceramic like the kind your kitchen mugs, plates and bowls are made from. The ceramic material coating on the inside of travel mugs has silica (quartz sand) as the main constituent applied via a process called Sol-Gel, which is then cured with hight heat. The name 'ceramic' refers to the coating's glossy, enamel-like appearance. 

The same ceramic-coatings are also currently used as safer, more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional non-stick pans like Teflon. (make sure you put Dark Waters starring Mark Ruffalo on your WATCH list if you don't yet know about PFAS in non-stick and waterproof surfaces!)

While it is possible to purchase fully ceramic (as in, fired clay) coffee cups which are more like kitchen mugs with a silicone lid, we'll leave the comparison between ceramic coated cups and fully ceramic mugs to delve into in a separate article.


Are ceramic travel mugs good?

Top 5 Benefits of using a Ceramic Travel Mug.

1. Unaltered Flavour:

The inherent inert nature of ceramic travel mugs is a standout feature, guaranteeing that your coffee or tea remains untainted by unwanted flavours. This quality ensures an unadulterated beverage experience, free from any risk of the mug altering the taste (as long as you keep it clean of course). The non-porous composition of ceramic prevents the absorption of odours or flavours, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate the pure essence of their favourite drinks. Whether sipping on a robust coffee blend or a delicate tea, ceramic travel mugs provide a clean and uncontaminated palate, allowing you to relish the true and uncompromised flavours of your chosen beverages, enhancing the overall enjoyment of your drinking experience. 

On the other hand, alternatives like plastic, bamboo, or un-coated stainless steel can compromise your beverage experience by introducing unwanted flavours through chemical leaching. Plastic is relatively porous and so both absorbs other flavours as well as imparting a distinct plastic-like aroma. Bamboo and other natural fibre-based cups, are more eco-friendly, but still tend to absorb flavours over time, impacting the taste of subsequent drinks. Stainless steel, though more hygienic than plastic and fibre based cups, as well as being durable and dishwasher-safe in it's uncoated form, may still impart a slight metallic taste to beverages.


 

Easy to Clean:

Ceramic travel mugs stand out for their exceptional ease of cleaning after enjoying coffee, tea or any other drink that is apt to stain surfaces. The slippery smooth, non-porous surface of the ceramic coating resists the lingering effects of stains, making them a breeze to wipe or rinse off. This effortless cleanup ensures that each subsequent use offers a fresh, untarnished taste, enhancing the overall experience for avid coffee and tea enthusiasts on the go. 


 

No Smell:

The ceramic coating has a non-porous structure, meaning its surface doesn't have microscopic openings or pores. This means that smells from previous drinks are less likely to linger and taint subsequent drinks. However, this should not be confused with meaning that drinks can be regularly left in these tumblers without washing, with no consequences.

When liquids or substances come into contact with a porous material, like plastics or even metals, they are absorbed in varying amounts, leading to the retention of odours. Since ceramic coating are non-porous, it doesn't allow molecules from beverages to penetrate its surface. You can even see this happening visually when drops of liquid separate on the surface.

This characteristic has significant implications for maintaining the purity of flavours in your ceramic travel mug. Without the ability to absorb or retain odours, the mug essentially remains neutral after each use. This ensures that, whether you've enjoyed a bold coffee, a fragrant tea, or any other beverage, the ceramic surface won't trap residual smells. As a result, the next drink you pour into the mug is not influenced by the history of its use, providing a consistently fresh and unaltered taste experience.


 
Aesthetics:

The ceramic coating, is usually an off white colour or it can be coloured, it looks super smooth, clean and silky and so it's absolutely more visually pleasing than looking down at a dull, stained metal interior or equally, a stained, scratched plastic one. 


 

Indirect Benefits:

Seeing as ceramic coated travel mugs are almost always double walled, vacuum insulated, stainless steel cups, they also boast temperature regulation of your drink, no condensation on the outside of the cup with cold drinks and no burnt hands with hot drinks. These ceramic coated steel cups are also more durable than plastic and fibre alternatives as well as the glass tumbler options.


 are ceramic travel mugs good?

Are there any downsides to ceramic coated cups?

Stirring Utensils:

Because the ceramic coating is only a thin layer, you want to be careful not to scratch it. This means that if you tend to stir your drink you should consider investing in a set of wooden cutlery which will prevent scratches and increase the life of your tumbler. Technically, there's no harm if the coating gets scratched but it won't look as nice.


 

Cleaning:

Even the most solid structured, non-porous materials will stain and absorb smells if they are strong enough and left in-situ for long enough. This is no different for ceramic coated cups which are so easy to clean due to their smooth slippery surface that really, you have no excuse not to!

Of course, we all sometimes end up getting busy and forgetting to clean our reusables and in that case, there's no need to panic. If you notice some staining or lingering smells, simply put 1Tblsp of bicarbonate of soda and fill boiling water to the top, keep the lid off and leave overnight. In the morning, wash with soapy water and a bristly brush and voila- it should be back to new (ok not quite, but close enough!).


 

In conclusion...

Ceramic travel mugs boast an unreactive nature, ensuring an unadulterated beverage experience free from unwanted flavours. The non-porous composition reduces the absorption of odours, making them ideal for purists wanting to savour the taste and flavour of their drinks. The nature of the ceramic coating gives stains and odours less chance to settle in and makes cleaning is a cinch. The coating is very durable provided you limit your use of metal spoons inside them, ensuring a lasting, aesthetically appealing travel buddy. Additionally, with their double-walled construction, ceramic-lined mugs excel in temperature retention, providing a consistent drinking temperature regardless of external conditions.

Overall, ceramic (coated) travel mugs are good as they offer the internal aesthetic and functional appeal of ceramic kitchen mugs with the durability, insulation and lightness of stainless steel travel mugs. They provide a practical and stylish option for enjoying hot (or cold) drinks on the go.

Are ceramic travel mugs good? We think this upgrade has enough going for it to make it worth spending a little bit more money on.


 

While you're here...

You may want to check out our range of ceramic travel mugs.

bru Ceramic Travel Mug

bru Ceramic Travel Mug

£21.95

Vacuum insulated, stainless steel travel mug with an innovative ceramic lining, made for enjoying drinks on-the-go.  Choose between the compact and portable 8oz ideal for your flat whites, the versatile 12oz, or the generously sized 16oz travel mug. Get ready… read more

We don't have sponsors or affiliate links so our content is unbiased. Instead, we generate funds via our own brand bru, if you want to support our writing check out our products that help fund our research and writing.


 

Interested in delving into a deeper coffee topic?

Read our article 'Is Coffee Good For You? What the experts have to say.'

Here you'll find out about the numerous benefits of drinking coffee, why caffeine exists (vegans cover your eyes!), what exactly is "moderate consumption" and are there any side effects.

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