The 9 Best Cup Warmers
9. Salton SMW12
8. Norpro Decorative
7. Mr. Coffee Office/Home
6. Home-X SH794
5. Timcare Hot Plate
4. Bravo Coffee Personal
3. Disney DMP-16
2. Imperial Desktop
Why You Need A Cup Warmer
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.
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.
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.