Coffee Cup Materials

There are several options to choose from in enjoying your morning cup of coffee. If you stop into a café you will most likely be served your coffee in a porcelain cup. This is a staple in many coffee shops as porcelain retains the heat of the coffee for a long period. However there are several other types of materials that can be used to make coffee cups; in this article I will go through the most common types.



Most commonly, mugs for coffee are made from porcelain. Porcelain retains the heat of the liquid and comes in many different shapes and designs. Additionally this type of material is very durable and can used many times over with minimal maintenance. Whether you prefer the classic white look or a more quirky design, there is a mug to suit your needs. The glossy appearance of the mug makes it a regular go-to for cafés and home-users alike. Porcelain cups have a strong sturdy base and fit well to the palm of the hand, making them a staple for coffee users around the world.



Glass is a great option for holding coffee due to its ability to retain heat. Glass cups also offer a transparent aesthetic that is appealing. However, it does not offer as many diverse aesthetic options as its porcelain counterpart. And glass can be a turn-off for some as heat is a bit more unevenly distributed in it; the cup can therefore be hot to the touch.



If you have been to Starbucks then you are familiar with this next type of material. Paper cups are typically coated with wax or plastic to prevent the liquids from seeping out. Depending on the type of paper used, you may feel as though the cup adds an almost cardboard-like flavor to the coffee, which may detract from the coffee flavor. The big advantage of paper cups (as with Styrofoam and plastic) is that they are handy when on the go; it is not uncommon to see a commuter on a train rushing to work with a paper cup of coffee in hand.



While Styrofoam cups are falling off in popularity, they can still be found in several coffee chain restaurants. Styrofoam cups have efficient insulating qualities, allowing you to hold the cup for a longer time without being burned and without the coffee cooling off too fast. However, companies have come under a lot of criticism for continuing its use styrofoam as it is not biodegradable and has a heavy environmental footprint. The recent introduction of the cup sleeve, which can be used over paper cups to give them the insulating quality of Styrofoam, has provided an alternative option and can reduce the use of Styrofoam in the future.



Though more regularly used in households, plastic is a common option for holding coffee. A prevalent complaint from coffee connoisseurs is that a plastic cup can often add an unpleasant taste to the coffee; however this really depends on the type of plastic used. These days there are several special plastics that leave no noticeable aftertaste when used. When drinking coffee from plastic cups, be sure to select the kind that doesn’t have a taste of its own when exposed to hot liquids.



Cups made of steel are more popular with home users who want to have a mug to travel with in the car. Steel is a preferred option because it retains heat extremely well. However, unless the cup has a handle, it is necessary to use a cup sleeve for that same reason. Steel can also be cleaned very easily and does not get damaged with extended periods of use.

These materials are the most common types used to hold coffee. When shopping for your next mug be sure to take these tips into consideration and pick the mug that best suits your needs!