9 Best Ways To Keep Coffee Warm At Your Desk

I absolutely love my coffee and nothing helps me focus better and makes me happier than sitting down to work with a nice hot cup of joe.

I like to savor my coffee and take my time drinking it while I'm working but I hate it when the coffee gets cold

Fortunately there are ways to extend the time you have to enjoy your hot coffee – and I've tried pretty much all of them. Understanding what the options are will help you decide which is going to be the best fit for you.

Vacuum insulated mugs or powered heated mugs or mug warmers are the best options for keeping coffee hot at your desk for the longer. Pre-heating your mugs and using silicone lids and tea cosies are cheap, non-powered ways to keep your coffee hot a bit longer.

Finding a way to keep your coffee warm while it sits on your desk at work is a game-changer! It will enable you to get through more than just an email or two before being left with half a mug of cold brew to gulp down or toss in the sink.

My coffee used to be cold after about 20-30 minutes and now my coffee stays hot for around 1-2 hours and (most importantly) it's hot until the final sip.

Here I have arranged the best solutions to the problem according to quality, price, convenience and how effectively it keeps your coffee hot.

1. Pre-Heat Your Mug

Regardless of which method on this list you choose you should always pre-heat your mug before filling it up with coffee.

It's one of the simplest and certainly the cheapest way to enjoy a coffee for longer before it gets cold.

See when you pour hot coffee into a room temperature mug the mug will instantly suck heat out of the coffee, bringing your mug and coffee into equilibrium.

However, if your mug is already hot then it won't steal heat from you coffee and can actually make a substantial difference in the starting temperature of your coffee. Especially for barista style coffee's like lattes and cappuccinos.

Fill your mug or tumbler with boiling water and let it sit for 3-60 seconds. This will heat it up to the point where it won’t rob your coffee of any of its heat the moment you pour it in.

This method won’t cost you anything except a minute of your time and it makes a big difference.

However, it is not the most effective method if you want to significantly increase the lifespan of your coffee from 20 minutes or so up to 1-2+ hours. That's where the next methods come in.

2. Battery Powered Heated Mugs

In the last few years a variety of brands have come out with battery powered heated coffee mugs.

These handy devices will keep your coffee at the exact temperature you like it, for as long as the battery lasts.

The major benefit of these devices over something like a vacuum insulated mug is that it will keep your coffee at a constant temperature and it will keep it at that temperature right down to the very last sip.

Mugs like the Ember Mug and Glowstone Mug will work for 1-1.5 hours and use batteries and an internal heater to keep your coffee around 135ºF (57ºC) which is the ideal temperature for most people when it comes to coffee.

The Cauldryn Mug can actually heat up and boil water for making coffee and are vacuum insulated so they can keep coffee hot for 10 hours on battery power alone.

My favorite for keeping coffee warm at my desk is currently the Ember Mug. It's high quality, has a ceramic lining and when kept on its charging coaster it can keep coffee hot indefinitely.

The Ember Smart Mug is a little pricey but one of the best smart mug available (in my humble opinion). It is app-controlled, allowing you to set the perfect temperature. The battery lasts about 1.5 hours when not at your desk or indefinitely when plugged into it's charging coaster – giving you plenty of time to enjoy your coffee while working at your desk. 

See the latest price of the Ember Mug 2 at Amazon

3. Vacuum Insulated Mugs

Vacuum insulated mugs are also one of the most effective choices to keep your coffee hot longer at your desk. They can maintain temperatures for as long as 6 to 12 hours!

Vacuum insulated mugs are designed to have an inner wall and an outer wall, with a vacuum filled space between them. The reason they are so effective is because heat has a very difficult time traveling across the vacuum. 

Thermos and Yeti are long trusted brands when it comes to vacuum insulated tumblers. They both have a range of double walled vacuum insulated desk mugs that come with airtight lids. If you are serious about taking your time with your coffee then these are a great option.

The downside of these cups is they only SLOW DOWN the rate at which your coffee goes cold. They don't control the exact temperature like the powered coffee mugs mentioned above do.

This means in the beginning your coffee tends to stay too hot and can be scalding to drink. You then have a period of time where it's around the right temperature and then towards the end (when there is less liquid) it starts to cool down quicker and so your last sips are usually a bit lukewarm.

This is why I rank it below the battery powered ones because it's not quite as good. But it's still an amazing option and much better if you're making coffee at home and then bringing to drink on your desk at work.

I personally like the Yeti 10 oz Coffee Mug as it has a great design but there are a variety of different options out there. Click here to see the best vacuum insulated Yeti cups for coffee.

See the latest price of the Yeti 10 oz Tumbler at Yeti.com
(or compare to the price of the Yeti 10 oz Tumbler at Amazon)

4. Mug Warmers

Battery powered coffee mugs are expensive, a cheaper option is to get a heated mug warmer.

Electric mug warmers are like heated coasters that keep your coffee warm from underneath.

They generally plug into the wall socket although you can find the ones that have a USB port and use about half the wattage.

Some of them come with cups and some of them are smart and detect when a coffee cup is on them and will otherwise turn itself off to save powered and avoid overheating.

Definitely look at reviews before purchasing one of these as the quality can be hit and miss and if possible opt for one that plugs into the wall over one that is USB powered as they work mug better and are less likely to break.

The Best In Kits Smart Coffee Cup Warmer Set is a good option (linked below) otherwise check out our list of the mug warmer for coffee cups.

See the latest price of the BESTINNKITS Smart Coffee Cup at Amazon

BESTINNKITS Smart Coffee Cup Warmer Set, Auto On/Off Gravity-induction Mug Office Desk Use, Candle Wax Cup Warmer Heating Plate (Up To 131F/55C), 14oz

5. Double Walled Ceramic or Glass Mugs

Double walled ceramic or glass cups are similar to vacuum insulated mugs in that they both have an inner and outer wall with a gap between. Instead of a vacuum however, the space is filled with air.

Since heat can pass through air more easily than it can jump over an empty vacuum, these mugs will only provide you with 1 – 2 hours of hot coffee. However, these keep coffee hot a long longer than regular single walled cups do and they are great for use at home.

Another disadvantage they have is not having a lid. Adding a silicone lid to a double walled mug is a great way of extending the range even further.

There are lots of different double walled glass cups available but if you're looking for a good double walled ceramic mug I recommend the Mora Double Walled Mug (at Amazon).

It's got a great look, is double walled ceramic, comes with a lid and it thin enough to fit in your car cup holder if you want to use it as a travel mug.

See the latest price of the Mora double walled mug at Amazon

Mora Double Wall Ceramic Coffee Travel Mug with Lid, 14 oz, Portable, Microwave, Dishwasher Safe, Insulated Reusable Tall Cup, Splash Resistant Lid - To Go Tumbler for Car Cup Holder, Cotton White

6. Plastic or Silicone Lids or Covers

Believe it or not but a lot of heat leaves your coffee not through the walls of the mug but out the top in the form of steam.

Steam carries with it loads of heat energy and if you can stop the steam escaping then your coffee will start how for a lot longer no matter which coffee cup you use.

An array of these can be found on Amazon for just over $10 or so. They are designed to create an airtight seal over the top of your coffee mug.

Since the steam is unable to escape, all that heat remains trapped in the mug, resulting in a hotter coffee for longer.

I tested a bunch of these lids to work out which was the best lid for the Ember Mug and without a doubt in my mind the best lid is the Portavia Silicone Lid (at Amazon).

It fits a variety of different sized mugs and fits most ceramic mugs. It sits inside the mug (not over the top) giving it a firm seal so you don't have to worry about it leaking or falling off.

You can even push it far enough into the mug that your lips don't need to touch the silicone and you can drink directly from the ceramic.

It's a very affordable option and I highly recommend it.

See the latest price of the Portavia Silicone Lid at Amazon

'Universal To-Go Coffee Cup & Lid (Charcoal)

7. Tea Cosies

Just like how people put tea cosies over their tea pots to keep them warm you can do the same thing with your coffee cups.

They wrap around your coffee mugs providing extra insulation to stop heat from escaping out the walls of the mug.

I suggest combining these with pre-heating your mug like we talked about plus add a silicone lid and your coffee should stay hot for 40-60 minutes.

The best place to get these coffee cup warmers is at Etsy. There are a variety of cute and colorful options to choose from.

8. Phase Change Material (PCM) Vacuum Insulated Mugs

Phase Change Material vacuum insulated mugs combine the insulting power of vacuum mugs with a phase change material to keep your coffee at a consistent temperature (around 140ºF or 60ºC) until the final sip.

These are fantastic at keeping your drink hot for longer but are a little expensive. Lexo and Burnout are the only two brands I am aware of and they both work by having 3 layers of stainless steel.

Between the outer and center layer is a vacuum, just like in the vacuum insulated mugs. But in addition to this, between the inside layer of steel and the middle, is a space filled with a synthetic waxy substance called Phase Change Material (PCM).

Some of the heat from the boiling coffee melts the PCM, cooling your coffee slightly ensuring a scold free mouth. Then as your coffee and PCM slowly cool, the PCM solidifies and expels heat in the process. Click here to learn the details of how phase change material mugs work.

This expelled heat cannot pass through the vacuum so most of it is directed back into the coffee, keeping it warm for longer.

See the latest price of the Burnout Triple Walled Mug at Amazon

BURNOUT Temperature Regulating Travel Mug 16 oz Black - Drink NOW & HeatZorb Tech

9. Immersion Heaters

Immersion heaters are simply small heating elements that you plug in and submerge into your cup of coffee. They can be used for reheating your cup of coffee after it has already gotten cold.

Most immersion heaters incorporate a 300W element that provides instant heat and will bring coffee back up to drinking temperature in a few short minutes – just be careful not to burn yourself.

I'd avoid any of these that claim they work from USB as they simply require too much power to run and these are likely to be low quality. Get one that plugs into the wall.

These can be a little messy in coffee but if you keep a cleaning cloth at your desk as well then you can use these to warm up your coffee as it starts to go cold without having to get up and go to the microwave.

NEW Norpro Instant Immersion Heater Coffee/Tea/Soup Electric Water Portable Reheater

In Summary

The ranking for the above list takes into consideration the cost and convenience as well as the effectiveness of the solution. If we were to rank these solutions purely in terms of how much longer it will keep your coffee hot then this is the order it would be:

  1. Battery Powered Heated Mugs
  2. Phase Change Material (PCM) Vacuum Insulated Mugs
  3. Vacuum Insulated Mugs
  4. Double Walled Ceramic or Glass Mugs
  5. Plastic or Silicone Lids
  6. Pre-Heat Your Mug

Mug warmers will work as long as they are plugged in but are not powerful enough to keep your coffee piping hot. Immersion heaters made the list but are mainly for reheating a cup of coffee that is already cold.