Suffice to say, Americans love their coffee. But it’s not just selecting the best coffee that you should think about. Increasingly more Americans are enjoying cups of coffee from home and hunting for mugs made in the USA. Americans are becoming more selective about their coffee. Case in point? Specialty coffee sales continue to grow, even amidst financial hardships and a global pandemic.
While specialty coffee sales account for under 10 percent of the market, those sales are increasing by 21 percent per year. And according to data from the International Coffee Organization, the US is already spending over $4 billion per year on coffee alone.
But just as Americans are becoming more selective about coffee, they’re also thinking more about how and where they consume it. While there’s a push towards quality coffee, the pandemic did change how it’s being enjoyed.
A 2020 National Coffee Association report found that, while more than 40 percent of Americans were trying a new coffee, 85 percent of coffee lovers now have at least one cup at home. That likely remains true, even as coffee shops have reopened.
But if Americans are being choosy about their coffee and enjoying it from home, what about the mugs they’re using? While many of us don’t think about it, mugs from China are raising concerns– and leading more to find a mug made in the USA.
That task isn’t easy. This guide will tell you how to select the best coffee mug made in the USA. I’ll tell you about the different materials used, and why many want the USA-made mug in 2021.
What is the Best Material for a Coffee Mug?
Have you ever thought about what you drink your coffee from? If not, that’s understandable. For many of us with busy schedules, it’s easy to just be focused on getting a morning or afternoon cup of coffee made. But the material of your mug can impact the quality of your coffee, both at home and on the go. While there’s no one best material for a coffee mug, each one presents distinct pros and cons.
Is a Ceramic Mug Good for Coffee?
Ceramic mugs are the most popular choices for enjoying coffee at home. Ceramic is a solid and sturdy material well-equipped for heat. It also happens to be neutral, meaning ceramic doesn’t add any flavor to what you’re drinking.
It’s easy to see why they’re a favorite choice, not to mention that they’re also affordable and available in a wide variety of colors and styles. The biggest downside to a ceramic mug is that it can chip, crack and break. It’s also not practical for enjoying your coffee on the go.
Is Ceramic and Stoneware the Same Thing?
Stoneware is a type of ceramic. As such, all stoneware is a form of ceramic, but not all ceramic is classified as stoneware. Stoneware is made by firing at a high temperature, thus making mugs more durable. Like ceramic, stoneware isn’t porous, but it is more resistant to chipping.
Are Stainless Steel Coffee Mugs Safe?
Stainless steel can be not only safe but practical for traveling. You can find stainless steel mugs that are BPA and lead-free and an excellent, practical choice. Stainless steel is typically neutral, though poor quality stainless steel could transfer light flavors.
Insulated stainless steel mugs can keep coffee at a steady temperature for up to a few hours and are durable and lightweight. The biggest downsides– both flavor and safety concerns– are tied to poor quality options. The issue is that the majority of stainless steel options are imported– so finding quality, USA-made options can be tricky.
Are Wooden Mugs Good for Coffee?
A unique option for a coffee mug is wood or bamboo. Many may be drawn to this for the aesthetic or feel it is more eco-friendly. Truthfully, wooden mugs are a poor choice. Wooden mugs will not only crack with heat and warp with moisture but also give off odors and flavors. Short of plastic cups, wooden mugs are about the worst choice for hot coffee.
Why are Glass Mugs Better for Coffee?
Glass mugs are an unexpected choice, and at first, they seem like terrible ones. But there’s a difference between typical glass and tempered glass. Tempered glass is far stronger and more durable; it’s been processed to control temperature and tension. Glass mugs don’t stain and clean more easily. It can become moldy if you don’t clean it often, and it’s also not a practical choice for traveling.
Are Coffee Mugs from China Safe?
But even if you’ve decided on the right type of coffee mug for you, you have another choice to make: where the mug is made. If you shop for a coffee mug and don’t pay attention, you have a high probability of buying a mug from China. Mugs from China tend to be affordable and widely available, but some concerns have been raised about how safe they are.
American potteries ban the use of lead in the production and paint of mugs. But Americans can still buy mugs from countries that don’t follow the same standards. That includes China.
Can You Get Lead Poisoning from a Mug?
The good news is that mugs on mainstream stores have been approved and tested by the FDA. That means that they’ve been tested to not leach lead during use. The bigger danger is when you’re shopping online, where standards may be lax.
And some still have concerns that the minimum FDA regulations aren’t enough. For a mug on the shelf or from a regular store, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get lead poisoning. At the same time, you need to make a decision that’s comfortable for you. And buying coffee mugs from the USA could potentially also lead you to more durable options.
What Makes a Good Coffee Mug Made in the USA?
It’s no surprise that not every coffee mug made in the USA is guaranteed to be the best purchase. The first thing you should consider is the best material for you. Thickness and standard sizes, as well as other features, can make difference in how you enjoy your coffee at home and on the go.
How Thick and What Size Should a Coffee Mug Be?
The thickness of the coffee mug should be in proportion to the size. You want a mug that isn’t so thin it harms insulation and temperature regulation, nor so thick that it’s bulky or awkward to use.
More so, you also want to consider what size makes sense for you. See the chart below for standard size considerations. You can opt for mugs for different types of coffee, or merely go for one that will suit all. If you love specialty coffee drinks, you may want to consider a few, distinct mug types and sizes.
|Cappuccino||5 to 6 oz|
|Coffee, Regular Brewed||8 to 12 oz|
|Espresso||2 to 4 oz|
|Latte||12 to 16 oz|
|Travel Mug or Tumbler||16 to 20 oz|
What Makes a Good Mug Handle?
Aside from travel mugs and tumblers, a good handle also makes a difference. While certainly not the biggest factor, aim for a handle that’s at least one inch thick at the top attachment. Thinner handles can be more difficult to deal with, and potentially easier to break. It’s not unusual for a wider attachment handle to taper some.
USA Made Coffee Mugs: My Picks
Now I’ll give you my picks for some of the best coffee mugs you can buy, all made in the USA. Searching for the USA-made coffee mugs is no simple task, but when you search, you can find some compelling options. I’ve sorted mugs based upon material, and selected mugs from well-regarded companies. All of these mugs have transparent details about materials and sourcing.
Ceramic and Stoneware Coffee Mugs
If you’re not traveling, chances are this is the first type of mug you should start with. Ceramic mugs are handy to have in any kitchen. There are also far more options for ceramic mugs made in the USA than other materials. Affordable, versatile, and handy, keep in mind that cheaper ones may last only so long.
Stoneware can be a great in-between option if you like the pros of ceramic but are looking for something more durable. These will stain, so I recommend washing after each use. Most will be dishwater safe, but also check with the specific mug.
American Mug Pottery Ceramic Square Handle Coffee Mug
This set of four ceramic mugs is priced at $37.95 and comes highly recommended by Amazon customers. These ceramic mugs are a good starting point for a coffee mug made in the USA, useful for having in the average kitchen.
They’re lead and cadmium-free, as well as dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. Made by hand in East Liverpool, Ohio, each mug is kiln-fired and made with a sturdy handle and anti-slip design. Available in cobalt blue, white and black, as well as in sets of 2. The standard size is 17 fl ounces; Buy Here.
Handcrafted Stoneware Coffee Mug
This handcrafted mug is truly special – it may be one of my favorite ideas for a coffee mug made in the USA. Made in Wisconsin, this coffee mug holds up to 16 ounces and is dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe. Lead-free, FDA and California Proposition 56 compliant, it’s a sturdy and attractive coffee mug. Priced at $24; Buy Here.
Oliver Pluff Stormy Blue Coffee Mug
This beautiful stoneware mug is handcrafted in Wisconsin. The stormy blue hue is unique and accompanies a rounded style, designed for a comfortable grip. I also love that this made in USA coffee mug is dishwasher safe and compliant with California Proposition 56 and FDA standards. The lead-free mug can hold up to 12 ounces of coffee or tea. Priced at $27.50; Buy Here.
Go Green Earthenware Classic Mug
This eco-friendly coffee mug is another one of my favorites. The dry glaze features a minimalist, low gloss finish and a natural hue that’s aesthetically pleasing.
Handmade and designed in Virginia, with materials from Canada and the United States, this mug is free of any harmful chemicals, including lead and cadmium. It’s safe for the freezer, microwave, and dishwasher- so you can even use it to serve ice cream! The round mug holds up to 12 oz and is priced at $22; Buy here.
Glass Coffee Mugs
This unusual option can serve a few purposes. If you are relatively careful with your coffee but often get busy, glass mugs may be an option. Decorative and suited for working from home, you can make a cup of coffee and set it aside without fears of staining.
Make sure you only buy genuine tempered glass. Unfortunately, I only have a few recommendations for glass coffee mugs made in the USA– but hopefully, more options will become available shortly. I did “cheat” and include one made in France.
10 Oz Microwave Safe Glass Mug
This simple glass mug is practical and a great addition for coffee lovers. Made in the USA, this mug can hold up to 10 ounces of hot or cold liquids and is available in a vast range of different shapes and styles. A sturdy handle makes for an easy, secure grip. Priced at $12 for a set of four mugs; Buy Here.
BenShot”Bulletproof”- Rocks Glass
It may not technically be a mug, but this glass is a stylish and clever way to enjoy 11 ounces of chilled coffee. The lead-free glass is made of extra durable materials, hand-sculpted, and hard to break. Buy Here.
Stainless Steel Coffee Mugs
Stainless steel coffee mugs are usually reserved for travel mugs and tumblers. The best ones are made without BPA and feature a design meant to optimize insulation to keep your coffee hot as you travel from point A to B, or even for camping. The problem? Almost all stainless steel coffee mugs are made in China. So after some digging, here are a few options I found.
Original Tin Mug
This classic stainless steel mug is modeled after a design used by railroad workers and miners a century ago. Made in the USA, the mug can be used for many types of drinks and is hand-crafted in West Michigan. It doesn’t have as much insulation as other options, but the classic design is charming and durable. You can also order with custom engravings. Priced at $29.95; Buy Here.
Personalized Express Custom Engraved in USA Stainless Steel Bamboo Coffee Mug Insulated with Lid
Need a practical option for travel? I love this stainless steel coffee mug. Made in the USA, bamboo adds a lightweight and unique look to the exterior, but your coffee is safe with stainless steel and an insulated design.
The double-wall interior keeps coffee hot for up to four hours and holds up to 10 ounces. Durable 304 stainless steel is paired with a twisting lid to prevent leaks. You can even custom engrave for a personalized gift. Buy Here.
Functional Art Mug Collection
One-stop shopping for stainless steel mugs all made in the USA? This colorful collection may be your answer. These travel tumblers include an insulated interior for both hot and cold coffee, complete with a secure grip. The colorful, artistic covers are stain-resistant and the design is meant to reduce both slipping and condensation. Priced from $19.95 to $29.95; Shop Here.
Answer: While you can find countless articles arguing that you never need t wash your coffee mug, many say the opposite – so what’s the truth? The argument against washing your mug is that viruses don’t live long on a mug. Some also point out sponges infecting your mug. While both have some truth, they aren’t the full story. With those arguments, we wouldn’t wash anything we eat or drink off of. You should wash your mug every day or every other day – just use a clean sponge if you need to scrub. If it’s dishwasher-safe, throw it in your machine. Bacteria can reside on mugs.
Answer: Another good reason to scrub your coffee mug regularly is to reduce stains. Coffee, like tea, contains naturally occurring tannins, which are responsible for staining. Cleaning your coffee mug after use can reduce or even eliminate stains. If you already have stains in your coffee mug, try soaking your mug in either baking soda or white vinegar (not both at once). After letting it soak, scrub it out.
Answer: There aren’t grooves in all coffee cups, but some popular ones – notably from Ikea – have them. A groove at the bottom cup is a clever design choice known as a drainage gate. A drainage gate helps direct water away when it’s hanging upside down in a dishwasher.
Finding a coffee mug made in the USA is by no means an easy task. The majority of coffee mugs Americans purchase daily are imported, largely from China. The good news is that there are more USA-made coffee mugs than there used to be.
Another possible entry for more USA-made mugs may be the shipping disruptions caused by the global pandemic. With shipping delays and shortages, who knows– maybe we’ll get an even better selection of coffee mugs made in the USA in the not too distant future.
Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in After the Pause, Into the Void, Flash Frontier, and Foliate Oak Literary, among others, and her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Erin has been a coffee lover for many years, and there’s nothing she likes better than high-quality coffee with a layer of crema. She loves helping others find their very best cup.