My 700-square foot apartment has more smart home appliances than an episode of the Jetsons. The light bulbs, music, and even the air conditioning can be controlled by voice without even leaving the couch. At first I dismissed this high-tech gear (procured by my roommates) as frivolous. Now I think it’s fun to live in the future (Except for when my roomies receive a text alert when I set off the fire alarm).
But did I really need to bring a smart coffee mug into my already hyper-intelligent home? At first, I thought, absolutely not. When I was tasked with reviewing the Ember Mug, I balked at the idea of a temperature-controlled electric caffeine delivery system. Who needs that?
Apparently I do.
Over the past couple of weeks using it, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my hot beverage needs, and my device dependency. For one, I learned that I fall into the camp of slow coffee drinkers. I will enjoy a hot beverage for an average of 75 minutes. Two, I like to drink coffee at 135° F. And three, I prefer tea at 125° F. The mug doesn't just keep beverages hot as an insulated carafe or thermos would—it allows you to set them to a precise optimal drinking temperature, meaning you'll also avoid burning your tongue on coffee that's too hot. Overall, this revelatory mug has transformed how I caffeinate and allowed me to bring a scientific precision to my warm beverage consumption.
Here's how the mug of the future works: The sleek ceramic cup keeps beverages at a preselected temperature. The mug syncs to an iOS app, where preferred temperatures can be pre-set and saved for various drinks (so you too can learn detailed facts about your warm beverage preferences, like that your ideal tea and coffee drinking temperatures are slightly different). When the desired temperature is reached, users can opt to get a notification via the app and/or an Apple Watch. The Ember app even pairs with the Health app on your iPhone for those looking to track caffeine intake.
I brought my Ember—and my futuristic lifestyle—to the office. I can get through my inbox at my desk in the morning without having to make multiple trips to the kitchen to swap out cold coffee for a new cup. And my afternoon slump is cured with a cup of Earl grey—the Ember app sets a timer for optimal steeping, and I get a ping on my Apple Watch when it’s ready. Magic.
The smart mug is, well, smart. It knows when liquid is inside and will enter sleep mode when its empty. It communicates through a small light at the base—a solid white light means that the temperature has been reached; red and green lights indicate the battery level. The most fun light, though, is the personalized color users can choose in the app. When my mug is powered on, it flashes a cerulean hue.
When put to the test, coffee in one of my regular ol' mugs dropped 5 degrees every 4 minutes. It needed to be rewarmed after half an hour. The Ember Mug, however, stayed at my preferred 135° for nearly two hours. The mug can be placed on its coaster charging station, which cleverly looks like a tea saucer, to prolong the temperature maintenance and—thankfully—it will automatically switch off after two hours of no activity. There’s no worry of electrical fires or, if you're me, group texts from your smart fire alarm system.
Aesthetically, the Ember Mug far outranks the animal-shaped mugs that usually inhabit my cupboards (I have a llama paraphernalia problem. That's another story). It’s elegant and comes in two colors: black and white. Still, it doesn't look offensively like a piece of high-tech gear. It could pass as a regular, if extra chic, contemporary mug. Most importantly, it aces the crucial mug comfort test—it feels nice in hand, thanks to a sturdy handle and some added weight from the lithium-ion battery at the base.
There are some downsides, though. Most notably, the price: the mugs, which come in 10-ounce or 14-ounce sizes, normally start at $80 (NOTE: It's currently on sale for $62 on Amazon). The extra pretty copper mug will set you back a whopping $130. If this sounds like more than you'd ever want to pay for even a coffee mug that'll do your kid's homework, I completely understand. The Ember Mug is also hand wash only. And hand washing it is extra tedious. The bottom of the mug can’t get wet—or else it won’t be able to connect to the charging coaster, meaning you can't just stick it under the sink and let the hot water and soap run all over it. You have to delicately wipe down the interior and the top, without getting any water on the base. I’ve also found that it needs to be charged after each use, and it takes approximately an hour and a half to fully juice up. Having to remember to charge one more thing in my life is difficult enough—it would be great if it held a charge longer, through multiple uses. And it doesn’t have voice-control capabilities...yet.
Still, if you are the kind of person who aims to bring scientific precision to all aspects of your life, including your morning caffeine consumption, this mug is absolutely for you. Drink your coffee and tea at the perfect temp. Receive a notification on your watch that your coffee is perfectly warm. Track your caffeine consumption via a connection to your health app. It's 2019 and you and your java are living in the future—now.
If this all sounds fussy and seems like more money than you want to spend on a mug, read our search for the best regular coffee mug to keep your coffee warm:
An obsessive journey for piping hot coffee.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious