The Ember heated coffee mug is one of the best and most popular heated coffee mugs on the market. It works to keep your tea or coffee at the perfect drinking temperature for hours at a time by using a battery and a heating element.
As a coffee lover myself I actually think this is a really great product. Because who wants to get to the end of their coffee and have that last delicious sip of goodness be stone cold? Not me!
But while this is a good product it's not perfect and given how expensive it is I feel it's important to understand its downsides and limitations before you spend your hard earned money.
That way you can know what you're getting (and what you're not) and so you can ultimately be happier with your purchase if you do decide to get one.
You can also read my Ember Mug 1 vs Ember Mug 2 comparison review if you want to learn more about the positives of the Ember Mug and what it can do.
1. Struggles To Heat Things Up
The Ember is great at keeping your drink warm but ideally you want to put a warm drink into your Ember rather than putting a cold drink in it and hoping the Ember will heat it up.
It's slow at bringing things up to temperature and it chews through a lot of battery when it decides to do so.
So it's best to make your coffee, tea or whatever beverage hot first and then pour it into your Ember mug.
2. Poor Battery Life
The Ember can keep your drink warm all day if you have it plugged into the wall via the saucer charger but as soon as you take it off it's charger and it's running on battery power you haven't got that long to drink your cup of joe.
The small 10 oz Ember coffee Mug has a battery like of 1-1.5 hours and even less if it's trying to warm up cold drinks. The larger 12 oz travel mug has 2-3 hours of battery life when disconnected from the charger.
After the battery dies there is some insulation to keep your coffee warm but it will start to cool down, especially in the smaller mug which has no lid.
A vacuum insulated bottle or tumbler like the Yeti Tumbler would actually do a better job at keeping drinks warm all day for a much cheaper price or if you're going off grid or away from power all day then the Cauldryn heated coffee mug has 10 hours worth of battery life and would be a better option for you.
3. Limited Drink Capacity
While it may look like it is a good sized mug a fair bit of space in the bottom is taken up by the battery, heating elements and the computing system.
The mug is 10 oz in size which is fine for a small cup of coffee but a “large” or a “regular” cup of coffee that you would get from a cafe is usually 12 oz and some people like even larger cups of coffee.
It's also 10 oz if you fill it completely to the brim. Given most people aren't going to want to do that for fear of spilling their coffee you're really looking at an 8.5 oz mug.
The Ember Travel Mug is larger at 12 oz and so it can handle a regular sized coffee and has a lid so you don't have to worry about spilling, but that version is more expensive so you need to weigh up if the extra cost is worth it.
4. Limited Heat Range
You would think that the Ember would be able to keep drinks at whatever temperature you want but this isn't the case.
Ember is all about keeping your drinks at the right drinking temperature and for them I guess they have decided this is 120-145ºF (49-62.5ºC).
Above 145ºF starts to become too hot to drink but some people do like their drinks, especially their tea, at quite hot temperatures so I wish Ember had the ability to go a bit hotter if you wanted.
Going hotter would also give you the ability to make things like noodle cups or soups in your ember, but at this lower temperature it's a bit difficult to do that. I guess I'll have to just keep using it for my coffee.
5. Not Vacuum Insulated
The Ember mug is not vacuum insulated but rather but rather just has a thin bit of insulation between the inner stainless steel layer and the outer layer.
This means when the heating element isn't turned on either because the battery has died or you're not using it then your drinks will cool down quite quickly in the Ember.
Vacuum insulated mugs tend to keep drinks hotter for longer. See which type of cup keeps coffee the hottest for longest.
6. Ceramic Coated, Not Ceramic
Most people prefer to drink their tea or coffee out of a ceramic mug. It tastes better and doesn't impart flavors into your drink like stainless steel sometimes can.
However, it's important to note that the Ember is made from stainless steel. However, it has a ceramic coating over the stainless steel.
This isn't a deal breaker as it means your drink and lips are only touching ceramic. However, some people have said that over time the ceramic can scratch off. So that's something to be aware of.
Let's get to the super obviously problem with the Ember Mug and that is the price.
This thing is EXPENSIVE.
There is no two ways to spin it, this is one of the most expensive cups on the market. At around $100 for the small mug and around $180 for the travel mug this does not come cheap.
It is out of a lot of people's budget to spend this kind of money on a coffee mug and I wish it was more around the $40 range so I could compare it to things like the insulated Yeti Tumbler (which people already feel is too expensive for a cup).
But alas it isn't. This is an expensive cup and if you drink a lot of coffee at the office and can afford it then is it worth it? Yes it is.
But if you're strapped for cash you might not be able to justify it.
8. Not Dishwasher Proof
Because of the way they have designed the charging port at the bottom and because of all the electronics and computing elements the Ember cup is NOT dishwasher safe.
This isn't a huge deal but it does mean that you'll need to hand wash it every time.
Some people have thrown them in the dishwasher and the cups have been fine, but really it's not worth the risk.
9. Saucer Can't Get Wet
The Ember Saucer (aka the charging station) can't get wet otherwise it can break the charging dock and also means the Ember mug won't charge properly.
This kind of defeats the purpose of a saucer which is to catch spills from your cup.
Not a huge deal and most of us won't be spilling our drink everywhere, but something to be aware of.
10. Saucer Has Live Electricity
The Ember Mug charges because the saucer has 2 gold plated prongs that connect with 2 gold plated rings around the bottom of the Ember.
I would have thought they would have used some Qi wireless charging dock but instead they opted for this charging strategy.
However, the 2 gold prongs are actually always live. They aren't turned off until they detect the mug, they are always live.
There is a transformer which brings it down to a safe voltage for humans, but this seems like an odd feature that could cause sparks if it comes in contact with metal.
11. Problems With Travel Mug Lid
Quite a few people have complained about the design of the travel mug lid.
Because this is being used with hot liquids pressure naturally builds up. This causes 2 problems with the lid.
Firstly, it sprays a big when you pop it open so you have to be careful not to spray yourself.
Secondly, the firm pressure needed to open the lid causes the stopper to break. Some people have been through as many as 4 lids in a single year because they just keep breaking.
12. Cannot Be Put In The Microwave
Because of the computing and electronics in the cup itself it cannot be put in the microwave.
The microwave can fry the circuits and completely ruin your cup.
This is annoying if your cup of coffee has cooled down and you want to give it a quick buzz to bring it up to temperature.
Instead you need to rely on the Ember mug to warm it up and this can take some time and chews through a lot of the battery.
Is The Ember Still Worth Buying?
Despite it's problems and downsides the Ember is still a beautiful mug that does exactly what it promises to do, it keeps your coffee or tea a a nice drinking temperature for hours, or even all day if you've got it plugged in.
For those that have the money and hate drinking cold coffee or tea then this is absolutely worth the investment.
If you're in an office and sitting at a desk then the ability to slowly sip your coffee throughout the day without having to worry about it losing temperature can be a great way to get through a hard days work.
If you're at your desk all day and can have it plugged in then that's perfect.
So no the Ember isn't perfect, but yes it's still a great product and one I happily recommend if you feel it's right for you.