Stephanie and I got matching Ember cups for Christmas. I’m generally happy with mine, but there are some things that folks should know to avoid frustration.
First, here’s what this cup is not:
- It’s not a way to warm up a chilled drink. It can warm Chemex coffee that has been cooling on the counter, but it will take 60+ minutes and isn’t worth it. In fact, the heating elements won’t start the warming process until they detect warm liquids. If you want to pour some milk into your Ember to get a head start on warming it up, you’ll have to trigger the warming process from the phone app.
- It's not designed to keep a cup of coffee warm when away from the base station indefinitely. Maybe our house is colder than average or I like my coffee warmer then average, but the battery doesn’t last long enough to support an extended trip away from the charging base. On a fully-charged battery I can easily drink one hot drink while sitting outside, but the battery will die pretty quickly into the second cup.
- The battery does not quick charge. I haven’t timed how long it takes, but getting back up close to 100% isn’t a casual thing, you can't just throw it into the charging coaster for a few minutes to top up the battery. When you get the low-battery warning, you're going to need to leave it sitting there for at least 30 minutes to get a decent charge up and well over an hour to fully charge the battery.
This may sound like I’m kinda down on the cup, but that’s not the case! For my use case, it’s actually just fine. I bought this to sit at my office desk and keep my drink toasty while I ignore it for long periods of time. In this use case, I would have the charging base on my desk and the cup would be charging most of the time. If I want to work outside or in another room, I can have a hot drink for 45 minutes or so, which isn’t too bad.
This cup replaces a HydroFlask mug that I’ve been using. The HydroFlask is still expensive for a cup, but it's a lot cheaper than the ember and does do a pretty good job keeping drinks warm, but it’s got a few downsides. While it does a great job keeping drinks toasty, it doesn't keep them warm forever. Second, it’s a little too insulated; if you put boiling hot water in it, the water will be too hot to drink for a long time. The trick is to keep the the lid off for a while, until it hits drinkable temp and then slap the lid on to preserve the temperature. Get this timing wrong and you scald your mouth or end up with a lukewarm drink. Second, it’s a metal cup with a plastic lid, so it gets a bit of the weird travel-mug tastes. I don’t know what the Ember is made out of, but it doesn’t taste or smell any different then a ceramic mug. Also, since the Ember has no lid, it very quickly cools down to the perfect drinking temperature and stays there.
Would I recommend that someone buy an Ember mug? Maybe? It’s $130, so it’s not a trivial purchase. If you get your coffee from a already-warmed source (i.e. not a cold Chemex) and you spend most of your time drinking from a place where you can plug in a charging puck, then I’d consider it.
If Ember releases a new model with a quick-charge mode and a robust heating element that can reheat my cold coffee in a reasonable amount of time, I would reccomend the cup with no reservations.