Does Your Coffee Cup Affect the Taste?

Does Your Coffee Cup Affect the Taste?

When you sit down with you favorite coffee mug, is it standing in the way of the best tasting cup? Most of us don’t think about what we’re drinking out of, but rather just the coffee itself. To help you make the most of your coffee drinking days, here are some tips to make sure each cup tastes as good as it should.

– Use a porcelain coffee mug – These are the best of the best in terms of allowing your coffee to taste as good as it could. Because it’s not porous, it holds the warmth for longer which preserves the flavor. These mugs are also reusable so they’re environmentally friendly too. They’re easy to find in any store and can even be picked up at a thrift store for pennies.

– Avoid plastic, paper, and Styrofoam coffee cups – Each of these cups can add the flavor of their materials to your cup of coffee, altering the taste. While you might not realize it at first, the flavor is slowly eroded by these kinds of cups. Even worse, there is some debate as to whether these cups will release some of their more toxic ingredients into your coffee because of the high temperature of the water as it sits in the cup.

– Wash your coffee mug regularly – We all know that you can get rings around your coffee cup if you don’t wash it out regularly, but this also affects the taste. The oils in the coffee can adhere to the sides of your cup and then be deposited into your next cup. Instead, be sure to scrub out your coffee mug with hot water and soap each day. If you forget and can’t seem to remove a coffee stain ring, use a little vinegar in warm water and let the cup sit for an hour or so. Rinse the cup out and then wash with warm soapy water. The ring will be gone and your flavor will be back.

– Use a stainless steel travel mug – Because stainless steel is not porous and holds heat well, these are the best mugs to use for travel. While porcelain is best, the stainless steel mugs don’t seem to remove any of the flavors of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. These do need to be rinsed before you use them to prevent any metallic taste in the first cup.

In answer to the question of whether a coffee cup can affect the taste of your coffee, only your taste buds can decide. Some people are more sensitive than others while others can’t even tell the difference. But if you’re looking for the purest flavor you can get, try some of these tips to see if you notice a difference.

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  1. Christopher Rushlau says

    My grudge against stainless steel containers came, I think, from my s.s. thermos, where, after a few hours, the coffee would taste burnt, bitter and barely coffee-like at all. I was just reading the Corelle website and it’s glass of some sort, which would be the least chemically active of any container–like lab glassware.
    I have not seen glass-lined thermos liners in stainless steel mugs. Starbucks for a while had ceramic mugs with steel cladding outside, which worked very well for both taste and heat retention, but I guess it’s hard work to make all that stick together. I have to repeat my confession up above that now I can take an hour drinking my coffee, with cream, out of my s.s. mug and not notice any deterioration in taste.

  2. Bry says

    I find my Corelle cups have a strange aroma. I don’t know if this makes sense but I find them to smell chalky and dry. I wish I could come up with better terms because chalky and dry aren’t really aromatic qualities. Christopher- I agree about scum buildup. Doesn’t your stainless mug use a glass vacuum bottle inside (w reflective coating on outside later of glass) so coffee only touches glass?

  3. Christopher Rushlau says

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the bad flavor from the vacuum bottle results from coffee scum building up in there. It’s hard to wash a “thermos” bottle. If the vessel smells like coffee, it’s not clean. But I’m generally sure that steel reacts with coffee more than ceramic–but “generally” doesn’t get you to Cleveland.

  4. Christopher Rushlau says

    I started this line with my denunciation of stainless steel cups in 2008. I reread the article and it said the steel apparently doesn’t react with the coffee. I have to agree. No substitute for experience. My stainless steel mug, which I’ve had for years, and which I changed back to after years of ceramic mugs, keeps coffee hotter longer and it doens’t seem to affect the taste. I formed my opinion from my stainless steel vacuum bottle. Seven hours in there leads to serious flavor deterioration. But an hour or so doesn’t. So I apologize for arguing beyond my facts.

  5. Dave says

    Any second-hand shop will be full of mugs. I’ve been using a 10-ounce cobalt glass mug for as long as I can remember. I reckon I’ll keep using it until I’m called home.

  6. iqbal says

    Hey I’m brand new to this site – just curious what kinds of coffees others have found that you really enjoy. I’m a big fan of Peet’s and use their home delivery service now. What has anyone else here discovered worth checking out?

  7. Brent says

    Christopher –

    Thanks for the tip – local Starbucks didn’t have the tumbler so I ordered on line, looking forward to having hot, pure tasting coffee.

    Hey I’m brand new to this site – just curious what kinds of coffees others have found that you really enjoy. I’m a big fan of Peet’s and use their home delivery service now. What has anyone else here discovered worth checking out?

  8. Christopher Rushlau says

    High Wave makes all-ceramic travel mugs, over the internet. Starbucks has one now in shops, double-wall, 12 oz.

  9. Brent says

    YES to Cal Watkins comments – thank you for the validation. I want a mug that will keep my coffee hot, but I don’t like my current stainless steel mug, because I can taste the metal. Does anyone know where I can actually buy a glass or ceramic lined travel mug, so I can enjoy hot coffee without affecting the taste.

    • rlichter says

      Chinese stainless is notoriously poor quality. The case of my Gaggia Classic under the drip tray rusted out completely. It was alloyed without enough chromium to prevent rusting. Would it be far fetched to factor this in when evaluating stainless thermos bottles and cups? (My large HydroFlask was returned once for rusting. Their (free) replacement is also rusting.)

  10. Christopher Rushlau says

    Ceramic is better because it does not react chemically with the coffee. The main idea, then, is that coffee is a chemical. I read the Aeropress instructions, and the two points there are the ten seconds of stirring, and the lower temperature (175 degrees, for less “acidity and bitterness”). One point against is the doubling of the normal amount of dry coffee used (four tablespoons for 10 ozs. instead of two; two scoops instead of one), but that is also applicable to Dunkin Donuts and perhaps for many coffee lovers. I.e., one way to make a cup of coffee have more coffee flavor is to use more coffee.
    Thanks. Stir for ten seconds, which opens to the general point of longer dwell time of contact between grounds and hot water. Slightly cooler water.

  11. jaypetoskeymi says

    Best cup of coffee bar none is from a little device called the Aeropress. It brews one expresso cup around 5oz at a time. and is alot better than the french press. Drink it from ceramic cups. Use bottled water and decent coffee. 25 dollars you will never go back to drip coffee. Thanks

  12. AlexMMR says

    A stoneware pottery mug. Definitely. Coffee is a personal experience if you use a quality handmade mug every morning.

  13. Cal Watkins says

    Or what I wish would happen! I actually found a “double walled” ceramic cup shaped like a “to-go” cup – great idea – but – it had a lid made of a flexible silicone material – I could smell the silicone as I was drinking the coffee! Yuck. Also glass walled thermos coffee – I can taste some bitter taste also – maybe its the plastic lids used to seal the thermos….ahh tribulations of a coffee person… – I have used a bit of salt on the grounds before brewing also – I find it tends to smooth out the coffee..Usually only do this when making large urns of coffee for groups…

  14. Christopher Rushlau says

    I may have said it above, but “eccentric” provoked me: I think many coffee-drinkers don’t know/like the taste of coffee. Like beer drinkers who don’t like the taste of beer.
    If you’re paying attention, you’re by definition not eccentric. You’re centered on what’s happening.

  15. Cal Watkins says

    As some of the previous commenters eluded to – a stainless steel type cup and/or pot definitely for some reason puts a metallic taste or effect to the coffee. Unfortunately Stainless steel vessels are the rage although some places are selling Ceramic mugs and travel mugs which is a great option – Unfortunately – again they miss the point by including them with plastic or silicone lids which add an unfortunate taste to a good coffee. I am surprised that more “experts” don’t notice this – especially the high end coffee experts…
    I say only glass or ceramic should touch coffee at all….including the lids and pots and muggs…but I guess I am an eccentric minority….

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