One of the biggest sins to me as a journalist is taking credit for other people’s work. So I should be upfront and say that I actually asked my wife to review Ember’s new second-generation Travel Mug. Her TL;DR take on the $180 precise temperature control drinking vessel? It looks great and is easy to set up and use, but the battery was a real bummer, at least in her real-world scenario.
Let me take a step back. I asked my wife to do the heavy lifting on this one because she drinks a lot of hot coffee, travels more than I do and her non-techie background provides a more approachable, everyperson view of the device.
But first, the basics. Released this fall, the Ember Travel Mug2 is a connected thermos that talks to your phone and lets you set the exact temperature of your coffee. Obviously $180 is a lot of cheddar for a coffee mug, especially for something that a lot of people might scoff at (a Bluetooth cup!). But as my wife learned with the first-gen Ember Mug a couple years back, precisely heated coffee from first sip to last actually makes your morning java more enjoyable.
Ember made a number of design changes to its new Travel Mug. The temperature control wheel at the base of the mug is replaced by LED + and – touch controls. In a neat bit of design, these controls stay hidden until you tap the Ember logo on the device. Ember Travel Mug2 also promises more battery life, saying it could hold a drink at 135 degrees for three hours (more on that in a minute) and comes with a redesigned charging coaster.
The first thing you notice with the mug is that it looks and feels great. It holds 12 fluid ounces and is easy to grip. The matte finish feels good and the LED controls give it a nice high-tech flair. The lid features a push-button, 360 degree (circular, not temp) accessible “spout” so you can drink from any angle, which is helpful when you’ve got one hand on the steering wheel.
Setting up the mug and pairing with the phone was easy and straightforward for my wife. She had no issues charging the device or getting it connected. The controls were intuitive and easy to adjust as she found her temperature sweet spot.
I should interject a note here to say that we actually tried out two different Travel Mugs. During her first go ’round, my wife found that the battery on the device drained pretty quickly. Even though she was pouring hot coffee into the mug and kept the temperature at 140, the battery was completely drained after around 45 minutes.
Thinking that perhaps we got a bum unit, I reached out to Ember and replaced it with a new one. This one held up better. Keeping her coffee at 140 degrees, the battery lasted two hours. I’m no battery expert, but this could fall in line with the expectations Ember set. On its website, Ember says that the Travel Mug will last three hours at 135 degrees, less if the temperature is hotter. So it doesn’t seem ridiculous that a five degree difference could result in an hour loss of battery.
Other things can drain the battery faster, like having to bring coffee up to temperature (i.e. adding cold coffee to the mug). Coffee added from the carafe made in the morning was only at 120 degrees, so sometimes the Ember had to a lot of extra work to get it up to 135 or 140.
Still, my wife’s biggest complaint is that when she is, you know, traveling, she’s out for the entire day on the road, and it’s not uncommon for her to enjoy coffee across a span of five or so hours. Having to bring the charging coaster along seems silly for a portable device (and not something she’s going to pull out and plug in during a meeting). However, my wife commented that if the coaster could fit inside the cup holder of her car, that would actually be quite useful as she traveled around to her appointments.
If your travel schedule is different, allowing for regular recharges throughout the day then this might be an (extremely expensive) way to you to caffeinate up throughout the day. It’s hard to say whether I recommend it or don’t. It’s a pretty device and if you have $180 to spend on a coffee mug, then you might be fine with any battery shortcomings. Just know that depending on your type of travel, your mileage may vary with the Ember Travel Mug2.