The 6 Best Cup Warmers
This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in April of 2016. Isn't it annoying when you reach for a mug filled with what used to be a hot beverage only to get a mouthful of a tepid liquid? But between checking email and answering the phone, who finishes their coffee in a timely manner. With something from our selection of convenient warmers, your cup of tea, hot chocolate, or soup can be kept at the perfect temperature for hours on end. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best cup warmer on Amazon.
December 15, 2019:
An electric cup warmer is designed to prevent already warm beverages from getting cold and should not be expected to heat up a cold liquid to a piping hot temperature. While it doesn't have the same level of heating capability as a hot plate, these gadgets do still pose a fire hazard and shouldn't be accidentally left to bake indefinitely. For this reason we have limited our selection to cup warmers equipped with some form of auto shut-off.
Some models, like the Bravo Coffee Personal and the Vobaga VOB-10 turn themselves off after a prescribed number of hours of inactivity. Although the Bravo is quite a simple choice, it took the top spot for heating drinks to the most piping hot level of about 180 degrees, which is a must for many users. But the Vobaga is also a top choice for offering three levels of heat for those who want more options.
Another excellent innovation is to design the unit as a tiny induction plate, like the Yibeico 2-in-1, because it will only activate for an induction-compatible mug like the one included, and not if your cat decides to lay down on it.
Why You Need A Cup Warmer
Regardless of your choice in beverage, you probably need one to fuel you through morning emails, phone calls, and meetings.
Most people enjoy starting their morning with a hot beverage, many of which can be beneficial for you, such as warm water with lemon, which can kickstart your metabolism, or the myriad types of herbal teas, which offer a range of health benefits. Even the age-old favorite, coffee, might improve your heart health. Regardless of your choice in beverage, you probably need one to fuel you through morning emails, phone calls, and meetings. Everyone has had the experience of busy work keeping them from their drink until it's become lukewarm.
Not only is your drink simply not as flavorful when it's becoming cold, but it isn't as good for you as the hot version. You could, of course, reheat your drink, but as many people know, most hot beverages can lose their flavor profile once they've cooled down and then been thrown in the microwave. This unfortunate truth causes a lot of people to simply throw their drink down the sink, wasting the money they spent on it -- particularly if it was a fancy coffee shop beverage -- and forces them to take the time to make or to purchase a new one.
A cup warmer can keep your drink at the desired temperature, consistently, until you're ready to drink it. This device is also quite compact so that you can keep it on your desk, and you don't need to return to the break room (where you become sucked into a time-wasting conversation) to reheat your drink. You can also keep other warm treats hot on this device, like cups of soup or chili; it's a remarkable multi-tasking item.
How A Cup Warmer Works
Cup warmers must receive power, whether that is from an electrical outlet or a USB port or other source. These appliances are quite similar to hot plates or electric kettles, which use something called a heating coil to distribute warmth to the surface of the item. Once your cup warmer is turned on, the power source sends electricity to the heating coil, which becomes hot.
Meanwhile, your mug has nothing but the stagnant air of your office, which has rather slow-moving molecules, to keep it cool.
Once your mug of coffee comes into contact with the surface of the cup warmer, an important concept called kinetic energy -- something that powers more of the world around you than you may know -- comes into play. Items with high kinetic energy contain molecules that move around rapidly, while those with low kinetic energy have slower molecules. Your cup warmer has a type of fast kinetic energy called thermal energy. Your mug of coffee has a slow kinetic energy. When the slow-moving molecules of your beverage meet the quick-moving ones of the electric appliance, the two transfer energy.
Your cool mug will slow down the molecules of the cup warmer slightly, and the latter will speed up the molecules of the former. Fortunately, because the cup warmer has such high kinetic energy, it influences the molecules in the mug far more than the molecules in the mug affect those in the appliance. In other words, the warmer heats up the mug far more than the mug cools down the warmer.
Since you keep your cup warmer turned on, its power source continues to generate thermal energy in the appliance. Meanwhile, your mug has nothing but the stagnant air of your office, which has rather slow-moving molecules, to keep it cool. In the battle of the slowly-cooling mug and the rapidly-heating cup warmer, your beverage's molecules do not stand a chance to slow any further.
What To Look For In Your Cup Warmer
If you work in a busy office where colleagues constantly battle for an electric outlet, a cup warmer that plugs into your computer's USB port can take you out of the fight. There are also models that can retrieve power from your car's cigarette lighter. If you're one of the Americans who spends an enormous amount of time in their vehicle each year, this type of cup warmer can ensure you're never without a hot beverage on the road. Some versions even double as full mugs; they plug into an electrical source like a standard cup warmer, but are shaped like a thermos, so they can hold your liquid and can be carried around.
You don't want a coworker who bumps into your desk to send your drink flying.
Some models even have a display that tells you the temperature of your beverage and notifies you when it's hit the perfect heat (which studies say is 136 degrees for coffee). This feature prevents you from wasting time sampling your drink every two minutes to see if it's ready. If you are the bold type who likes their beverage especially hot, make sure your cup warmer can reach high temperatures.
If you plan on heating up bowls of soup or larger items on your cup warmer, look for one with a bigger surface. Since you don't want your cup warmer to harm your dishware, make sure your model is safe to use with ceramic, glass and metal. That way, you won't need to wait until a standard mug becomes available in the kitchen. Having your drink spill on, or even near, your computer can be devastating, so look for a cup warmer with an anti-slip bottom. You don't want a coworker who bumps into your desk to send your drink flying. Most people have a favorite mug, whether it's Disney-themed or a souvenir from the Rocky Mountains. There are several cup warmer models to match your beloved cup. Even this appliance can have a little style.
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