Have you ever walked away from a hot coffee for just a moment only to come back and find that your drink has gone cold? Luckily several products exist to help alleviate this morning struggle. One such product is the Ember Mug 2.
Ember hopes to make your morning coffee more enjoyable by keeping it from getting cold. However, I found that the product had too many flaws to justify its high price tag.
In this review, I will go over the basics of Ember and their smart mugs. The good, the bad, my personal experiences, and even the company’s online presence and branding. All to help you decide if Ember is a company worth looking into. In addition to this written review, there will also be an unstructured unboxing video as well as a full video review.
- Keeps drinks warm
- Nice design
- App lets you know when your drink is at the perfect temperature
- Can be used without the app
- Little capacity
- Charging coaster prone to breaking
- App can be confusing and frustrating to use
- Charging coaster may leave a mark on furniture
- Not machine washable
What Is Ember
Ember is a tech company that produces a line of smart cups all using new technology to keep the liquid inside warmer for longer. Think of this as sort of the next step up from a typical thermos.
Ember’s premier product, and the one I’ll be focusing on for this review, is the Ember Mug, which has received a revised model in the form of the Ember Mug 2. This mug uses a built-in heater and app integration to keep your drink at the perfect temperature, even if you leave it sitting for an extended period of time.
In addition to the mug, Ember produces a smaller cup for espresso and cappuccino, as well as a larger travel mug with a more dynamic and touch sensitive display.
Ember Mug 2 Unboxing
The box the mug came in was rather nice and reminiscent of the minimalist packaging and branding most associated with Apple products. There’s some text around the sides hyping up the product within, one being a quote from the founder and CEO of Ember himself.
A few images also serve to make the product seem very appealing. There’s clearly a lot of inspiration taken from Apple products, which isn’t surprising since you can actually find Ember products for sale in Apple stores.
The box opens up very nicely to reveal the product within, again mimicking that elegance and focus on aesthetic seen with Apple products. The mug itself is the first item presented in the box and looks quite well sitting in the cardboard.
Upon picking it up, I was surprised with the overall heft of the mug. Most of the tech is stored in the base of the cup, making it very bottom heavy. I was also sort of surprised with how shallow the mug was. The electronics being stored almost entirely in the bottom made little room for the actual liquid to be poured into the mug.
Underneath the mug laid the charging coaster. This was a sort of thick plate looking device made to charge and house the mug when you’re not drinking from it. While resting in the coaster, the mug looked very nice and elegant, almost like something from a high end French cafe.
Outside of the mug and coaster, the package included the power adapter, some paper instructions, and Ember branded stickers. Though this was a pleasant unboxing experience, I was still sort of confused about the target market for this product.
I personally prefer my hot drinks to be on the cooler side and I don’t think that there’s a whole lot of customers looking to pay over $100 for a mug. Still though, I do have to applaud Ember for creating a very nice looking product. Functionality, however, is a different story.
The Ember Mug’s main feature and selling point is its ability to keep drinks at the perfect temperature for long periods of time. Even if you step away from the mug for a long time, when you come back your drink will be just as warm as when you left it.
Other than the heating element, the Ember Mug can sense when liquid has been poured into it and tell you the exact temperature of your drink through the app. The mug connects to the app through bluetooth, something I found to be hit or miss, which I will go more in depth into in the test section.
If you don’t want to use the app, you can! Without the app, the mug will keep your drink at 130 degrees fahrenheit, or about 55 celcius. This is very handy as you can use the Ember mug right out of the box with little setup. The mug will also turn off automatically if it senses that it hasn’t been used in a long time.
Without being placed on the charging coaster, the battery of the mug will last roughly an hour and a half, depending on how much liquid you put inside it. If you place the mug on the coster between sips though, the battery will last pretty much indefinitely.
The charging coaster is an issue though, as Ember opted to use metal contacts for connection rather than the wireless charging technology used by many phones and devices today.
While I haven’t experienced this personally, I’ve read more than a few other reviews where the metal contacts break or become stuck in the coaster, rendering the mug unusable. To me, this is a huge issue that needs to be addressed in an updated model.
Ember Mug 2 Test
I tested out the Ember Mug quite extensively for this review. I used it as my primary mug for about a month, both with and without the app. I’m not much of a coffee or tea person, so I mostly used hot chocolate for my tests.
Out of the box and without connecting to the app, the Ember Mug worked very well. The heating element turned on the moment I poured hot water in it and kept my drink warm the entire time. I was especially impressed with the LED and how it indicated both when the liquid was poured in and when my drink reached the ideal temperature.
I did, however, have a few gripes with the overall design of the mug. The shallow drink capacity and heating element being stored in the bottom makes it look like there’s more liquid in the cup when it’s full than there really is.
I found myself multiple times disappointed that I’d come to my last sip as it felt that I should have had more hot chocolate left. The handle also leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very small and thin, making it uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.
More cracks started to appear when I attempted to use the Ember Mug with the app. For starters, when I set the mug up, the app asked me if I wanted to allow it to access my contacts and call history.
Of course I hit “no” because who wants their mug to be able to call their mom. Unfortunately though, the app refused to work for me unless I agreed to this ridiculous term.
So now my mug can make phone calls, great! But how well does the app work? It’s hit or miss. It does keep your drinks to whatever temperature you set it as and notifies you when it’s at the right temperature, which is nice.
It works when you’re using the app, but I found that when I wasn’t trying to use the mug I kept getting notifications on my phone asking if I wanted to pair the mug. I wasn’t even trying to use the mug and often time wasn’t even in the same room as the device.
It was at this point that I gave up on the app and just used the mug on its own. It’s nice that I had the option to do this, but for $130 for this mug, I expected the app to work perfectly and not ask to make phone calls.
After dealing with all this, I decided to test out just how well the Ember Mug did at keeping a drink warm that sits unused for a long period of time. To do this, I simply filled it with hot water, placed it in the charging coaster while plugged in, and left it on the counter, checking in periodically to see if it was still warm.
I let it sit for about 2-3 hours, and while it did keep the temperature of the water warm, this test revealed a major flaw in the design of the product. The coaster actually left a mark on my kitchen counter.
I was pretty upset by this as the purpose of any coaster, smart or not, is to prevent rings from forming on furniture. Luckily, it came off with a quick wipe of soap and water, but I feel that I shouldn’t have had to do that.
In conclusion, while I did have good experiences in testing this mug, there were simply too many minor inconveniences and flaws for me to truly enjoy this product. I would not give this my recommendation.
How Can You Use Ember Products? / Who Is This For?
All of the Ember products, including the Ember Mug 2, are used in pretty much the same way. Simply pour your desired drink in and use it like any other mug. The device charges through the included coaster which the cup fits nicely inside.
I would say that the person who would get the most out of an ember product would be the busy professional who frequently drinks tea or coffee, but also finds themselves becoming distracted with work or other tasks.
If you have the money to spend and want every sip of coffee to be as hot as the last, then Ember might be worth checking out. Though I would wait for an updated model or a price drop.
Web Infrastructure / Branding
Despite my problems with the product, I very much like the Ember website. It’s minimal, once again taking influence from Apple, but has just enough color to stand out from their inspiration.
Everything is set up intuitively and all the links I checked went to where they were supposed to go. On the site you can not only buy Ember products, but also learn more about the company.
Branding once again takes heavy influence from Apple, perhaps too much. The Our Story page features a very Steve Jobs-esque video where the Ember Founder and CEO, Clay Alexander, puffs up the brand and discusses how this technology can change the world, almost to a comical degree.
I would like to see Ember try and be more unique in their branding going forward, though as it is now there aren’t too many problems.
Should You Buy It
As it is right now, I would not recommend buying an Ember Mug 2 for the asking price of $130. While the mug does work well to a degree, there’s simply too many small issues, mainly with the coaster and the app, for me to give this a recommendation.
If you do still want an Ember Mug, however, and you’re willing to overlook these flaws, I still wouldn’t advise buying it for the current price. I would recommend either waiting for a price drop or a revised model before buying an Ember Mug.
Where to Buy
The Ember Mug 2, as well as other Ember products, can be purchased online through the official website or through many other online retailers, including Amazon. You can also get the Ember mug from several brick and mortar stores like the Apple store, Best Buy, Target, Costco, and many others.
If you like the idea of a self heating drink mug but didn’t like the steep price point of Ember, might I suggest the ionMug. This mug costs only $34.99 and is available online at Walmart.com and in many Walmart stores.
The ionMug works very similarly to the Ember mug, both devices using a charging coaster that plugs into the wall. The big difference is that the ionMug does not have a companion app to finetune the settings or temperature.
This is actually a plus for me as I hated using the Ember app. Instead, the ionMug is controlled via a power button on the bottom which cycles between 3 preset temperatures. The ionMug also includes a lid for travel use.
When searching for the Ember Mug on Amazon, the site will also suggest the smart mug from Vsitoo. This mug retails for $99.99 and also does much of the same things as the Ember equivalent.
While the Vsitoo does use a companion app, it’s not required and you can set a precise temperature right from the display on the mug, something that the Ember sorely lacks. This mug also includes a travel lid and can even keep cold drinks cold, again something missing from the Ember.
Part of me wanted to be pleasantly surprised by the Ember Mug, but the product left a lot to be desired. Its main function works well, that being its ability to keep drinks warm. But the other aspects, mainly the charging coaster and companion app, keep this product from greatness.
If you still really want a smart mug that can keep your drink warm, you have other options. Ember really is the Apple of smart mugs in this regard. They got the ball rolling on the market and produce a premium product, but other competing products are cheaper and often have more features than the top dog.