What Are the Different Types of Mugs?

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

Published: February 19, 2019

Updated: April 22nd, 2019

No matter what the occasion, we all need easy access to our favorite drinks. Maybe you’re driving across the country to move and want a travel tumbler full of coffee to keep you company. Perhaps you’re looking for the perfect ceramic mug as a Mother’s Day gift. In these moments, it’s helpful to have a variety of options to choose from.

What are the different styles of mugs? Which one is best for your event? Grab your favorite drink and let’s dive into everything you need to know about mugs.

A Brief History of Coffee Mugs

A Brief History of Coffee Mugs

During prehistoric times, our ancient ancestors used bones, metal, or wood to hold their coffee. Fast forward to 3000 BC and the invention of the pottery wheel allowed for clay mugs to be created by hand. This change in material led to a whole new world of mugs never before available to the public.

A Brief History of Coffee Mugs

By the 1800s, every diner in America used ceramic Victor mugs to serve their patrons. From there, the wheels were in motion to make mugs more modern, innovative, and unique. Today, mugs are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

What’s the Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Mugs?

Ceramic is a popular choice for mugs since it retains heat and is more environmentally-friendly than other materials. When compared to porcelain, ceramics are less expensive, more accessible, and have a bigger capacity. They are made from firing a non-metallic mineral, usually clay, at a high temperature.

Porcelain, on the other hand, is more elegant and fragile than ceramics. Popular for dinner parties, it’s considered “fine china,” which also makes it more expensive. These mugs are usually made with kaolin clay and heated at temperatures as high as 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

While both options are great, there are notable differences between ceramic and porcelain mugs. For instance, porcelain tends to have a smaller capacity than ceramics and breaks easily in certain environments. Still, those aren't the only differences, as indicated in the chart below.

Porcelain
Ceramics

Porcelain

  • More expensive
  • Less common
  • In the ceramics family and includes fine china
  • Elegant
  • Smaller capacity
  • Usually available in white
  • Customizable with image/text
  • Thinner walls
  • More fragile
  • Best to handwash

Ceramics

  • Less expensive
  • More common
  • Includes porcelain, earthenware, pottery, and stoneware
  • Casual
  • Larger capacity
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Customizable with image/text
  • Thicker walls
  • Less fragile
  • Usually dishwasher safe

Learn more about how ceramic coffee mugs are made!

Which Materials Can Be Used to Make Mugs?

A majority of the coffee mugs in your kitchen cabinet are either porcelain or ceramic. This earthenware has a glazed finish that makes your drinkware more vibrant and eye-catching. However, there are also a variety of other materials available including:

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Acrylic
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Polypropylene
  • Metal
  • Stone
Acrylic Mugs

Acrylic Mugs

Transparent, acrylic mugs are great for juice, water, or soda. They are also cost-effective giveaways for trade shows and conventions.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Ceramic Mugs

Ceramic Mugs

Most of the mugs in your kitchen cabinet are made from ceramics. These mugs have a smooth, glazed look that’s impossible to resist.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Glass Mugs

Glass Mugs

While this drinkware isn’t ideal for warm beverages, it’s a great choice for cold brews. These mugs are more commonly known as steins and work well for restaurants, pubs, or bars.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Plastic Mugs

Plastic Mugs

Obviously you shouldn’t pour your coffee into plastic mugs. They are more suitable for juice or soda, making them great for picnics or backyard barbeques.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Polypropylene Mugs

Polypropylene Mugs

Built with double wall insulation, you can serve warm tea or hot coffee in these stylish mugs.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Porcelain Mugs

Porcelain Mugs

Porcelain mugs are perfect for evening tea or holiday parties with the entire family. They make every event a bit more elegant and tasteful.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Metal Mugs

Metal Mugs

Metal mugs have a stylish flair that’s impossible to resist. Moscow Mules in particular are great company gifts for the entire office!

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks
Stone Mugs

Stone Mugs

If you’re looking for an extra durable mug, you can’t go wrong with stone. These mugs have thick walls for holding your favorite beverage.

  • Cold Drinks
  • Hot Drinks

If you're curious to learn more, check out this chart! It tells you which type of drink is best and whether or not the material is safe for the microwave.

Acrylic

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold

Microwave Safe: No

Ceramic

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold & Hot

Microwave Safe: Yes

Glass

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold

Microwave Safe: Yes

Plastic

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold

Microwave Safe: No

Polypropylene

Cold or Hot Drinks: Hot

Microwave Safe: Yes

Porcelain

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold & Hot

Microwave Safe: Yes

Metal

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold

Microwave Safe: No

Stone

Cold or Hot Drinks: Cold & Hot

Microwave Safe: No

Material
Cold or Hot Drinks?
Microwave Safe?

Acrylic

Cold

No

Ceramic

Cold & Hot

Yes

Glass

Cold

Yes

Plastic

Cold

No

Polypropylene

Hot

Yes

Porcelain

Cold & Hot

Yes

Metal

Cold

No

Stone

Cold & Hot

No

Mugs for Any Occasion

The world is your oyster once you’ve narrowed down the material. You’ll find mugs of all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. From long commutes to dinner with friends, you’ll never go thirsty again with any of these excellent choices.

Travel Mugs

Travel Mugs

Hit the road in style with your favorite travel mug. The attached lid helps you avoid spills, move around from place to place, and keep your drink at a hot temperature.

Trendy Mugs

Trendy Mugs

Products with a modern touch bring your branding to the next level. Cork based mugs are memorable and perfect for setting down on the table during meetings.

Unique Mugs

Unique Mugs

Stand out from the average joe and offer something with a distinct touch. The two handles make this mug a bit more exciting than its one-handled cousins.

Soup Mugs

Soup Mugs

You don’t always have to use your drinkware to hold beverages. These thick mugs are perfect for chicken noodle soup on a cold winter’s day!

Espresso Mugs

Espresso Mugs

These cute, pint-sized mugs pack a serious promotional punch. Use them to sample imported coffee beans at your fancy bistro.

Eco-Friendly Mugs

Eco-Friendly Mugs

These mugs have the same visual look of a to-go paper cup, without being harmful to the environment. They are great giveaways for large crowds at trade shows or conferences.

Mugs with Spoons

Mugs with Spoons

If you like your coffee with a bit of sugar, or want to add a touch of honey to your tea, you can’t go wrong with these mugs. The mini spoon is perfect for stirring in extra flavor.

Novelty Mugs

Novelty Mugs

Stick with any theme by handing out mugs in an unconventional shape. A Tiki mug is an awesome way to hold frozen drinks at a summer luau or during any other trip to paradise.

What Are the Different Handles for Mugs?

Of course, a mug is only a cup without its trademark handle. Whether you want a unique look or something more traditional, there’s a handle for every occasion!

  • C-handle
  • D-handle
  • O-handle
  • Open
  • Curved
  • Mini
  • Shaped
  • Oblong
C-handle

C-handle

This aptly named handle is shaped like a “C” and is the most popular style for mugs. The rounded shape makes it easy to grip the mug without it slipping from your hands.

D-handle

D-handle

With its rectangular shape, the D-handle is easy to hold. You have more space for your fingers without worrying about any uncomfortable squishing.

O-handle

O-handle

This round handle has the whimsical look of a wind-up toy without the annoying sound. It’s a less expected look than the typical ceramic handle.

Open

Open

Get a grip on your mug with the open handle style. This option is good for storage since it can hang right on a cup rack.

Curved

Curved

Basic mugs get a more stylish flair with curved handles. These are often thinner than other styles and give the mug an elegant look.

Mini

Mini

Latte and espresso styles often have a smaller capacity than other mugs. Their quaint appearance is rounded out by the tiny handle.

Shaped

Shaped

Some mugs go off the beaten path with unusual, creative shapes. This style is a perfect fit for a wide variety of events.

Oblong

Oblong

Your favorite mug is more eye-catching with a handle in an unusual shape. The warped, twisted appearance is a modern alternative to traditional drinkware.

Why Are Mugs Great Gifts?

Why Are Mugs Great Gifts?

Why Are Mugs Great Gifts?

Mugs, like the ones featured here, are amazing giveaways for a number of reasons. With the endless variety, you’ll find the perfect one for any occasion. If you want a casual, simple look, then ceramic is the way to go. Porcelain, on the other hand, is great for sophisticated events. Plus, let’s not forget about the shaped, travel, and espresso options. No matter what, a good mug will stay with your guests for a long time!

Stats for Success

Roughly 54% of Americans enjoy a good cup of coffee.

60% of people have an emotional attachment to their favorite mug.

Americans drink an average of 400 million cups of coffee a day.

The Bottom Line

Variety is the name of the game when it comes to mugs. We’re willing to bet you have a personal favorite for one reason or another. Maybe you got it as a gift or it’s personalized with a trendy design. Either way, it’s hard not to feel attached with so many colors, shapes, styles, and sizes.

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world’s first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC’s logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.

References

Coffee.org. (2018). Different Types of Coffee Mugs. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.coffee.org/Different-Types-of-Coffee-Mugs

Planet Mugs. (2018). Porcelain Mugs VS Ceramic Mugs. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from http://www.planetmugs.com.au/porcelain_mugs_or_cerramic_mugs

Andrews, L. (2016, February 02). 6 Reasons We’re Emotionally Attached to Our Favorite Mugs. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201602/6-reasons-were-emotionally-attached-our-favorite-mugs

Carry Your Cup. (2018). Get the Facts. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from http://www.carryyourcup.org/get-the-facts

WikiHow. (2018). How to Test if a Dish is Microwave Safe. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from https://www.wikihow.com/Test-if-a-Dish-Is-Microwave-Safe