Porcelain Vs Ceramic Mugs (What’s Best For Drinking Coffee?)

The material used for coffee mugs can actually impact the taste of your brew. If you're someone that enjoys drinking coffee, it's good to know which material is best for a coffee mug.  

Both ceramic coffee mugs and porcelain coffee mugs are popular options. In this guide, we'll delve into the key differences between porcelain mugs vs ceramic mugs and provide some insight on which one's best for your morning cup of coffee.  

Porcelain was invented in China around 600 CE and is typically used for both hot and cold drinks. Porcelain coffee mugs are made from a clay mixture that’s fired in a kiln.

In comparison to other ceramic mugs, however, it’s made from kaolin clay that’s more refined and also fired at higher temperatures - making it denser and more durable than ceramic.  

Porcelain Vs Ceramic Mugs (What’s Best For Drinking Coffee?)

Historically, fancy porcelain mugs were often described as fine china and only wealthy people could afford them.

This has changed over time, and they're now regarded as some of the best coffee mugs. Porcelain mugs are both popular and lightweight. They also do not retain any flavors or smells.

Porcelain coffee mugs also tend to be fancier than their ceramic counterparts and also have an elegant touch to them. They tend to be given as gifts and do come in a good amount of designs.

If you choose to get a porcelain mug, however, it’s important to make sure that the mug is crafted with a quality glaze.  

If you're someone that likes drinking coffee out of a fancier mug, it's highly likely you'll prefer a porcelain mug as they're quite fancy and have an elegant touch to them.

It’s also daintier than ceramic and is typically given as gifts.  

Advantages 
  • Looks nicer  
  • Smoother  
  • Denser  
  • Finer  
Disadvantages
  • Less durable  
  • Pricier  
  • More fragile 

Ceramic Mug Overview (Pros & Cons For Coffee Drinking) 

Similar to porcelain mugs, ceramic coffee mugs also originated in China and was used for hot and cold drinks. They are typically also made from a clay mixture that’s fired in a kiln.

In comparison to porcelain, ceramic coffee mugs are relatively inexpensive and come in a wide variety of forms.

For example, stoneware mugs and earthenware products also count as being part of the ceramic family.  

ceramic mug for coffee

If you're looking for an everyday coffee mug at home, it's likely that the mug is ceramic. The material tends to have a more casual touch to it and doesn’t look as high-brow as porcelain.

Ceramic mugs are popular as they're also on the inexpensive side of things and come in a wide variety of designs and colors.  

Like porcelain, ceramic coffee mugs do not retain any flavors or smells. They will, however, require a good glaze as having a bad glaze could end up affecting the taste of the coffee.

Ceramic mugs are also pretty solid, thicker, and relatively durable - so you won't have to worry about them easily breaking or chipping.  

Advantages 
  • Solid  
  • Does not impart flavors  
  • Inexpensive  
  • Many varieties  
Disadvantages
  • Not as aesthetically-pleasing
  • More susceptible to overheating  
  • Rougher  

Porcelain Vs Ceramic Coffee Mugs (Which Cup Is Better For Coffee?) 

1. Variety Of Looks & Style  

When it comes to variety, ceramic has more variety than porcelain as it comes in a variety of different forms, such as stoneware and earthenware.

Ceramic is also a little more inexpensive to produce and comes in plenty of different styles, designs, and colors.

In some instances, you could even customize your own ceramic mug if you’d like. You can even get some ceramic travel mugs - which make great gifts! 

When it comes to style, if you’re looking for something more elegant, porcelain tends to be the way to go. It also has a glass-like quality to it that individuals tend to prefer.

2. Durability 

In terms of durability of porcelain vs ceramic, they are both relatively dense materials. It does, however, depend on how well made they are.

In some instances, porcelain mugs, for example, could be made relatively thin, making them less durable.  

Overall, however, porcelain mugs are typically relatively smooth and dense, and other ceramic mugs are also exceptionally durable, less fragile, and pretty much last forever - just as long as you don't accidentally drop them on the floor, of course!  

3. Ease Of Cleaning  

When it comes to cleaning porcelain vs ceramic, ceramic mugs are easier to clean than porcelain mugs.

You can easily place your ceramic mugs in the dishwasher with no problems at all.

Just make sure that you’ve turned your ceramic mugs’s handle away from other dishware to avoid damage. 

However, if your ceramic mug isn't glazed, then it doesn't have a protective seal, and you will need to carefully handwash it.  

Some porcelain mugs are dishwasher safe, but it is best practice to handwash porcelain, especially if it is handpainted or has intricate designs.  

4. Heat Stability 

When it comes to retaining heat, ceramic mugs typically do a great job at keeping coffee hot as they’re typically thicker than porcelain mugs.

The reason why ceramic mugs are also great at retaining heat is because they’re heat porous - meaning that conduction occurs at a slower rate.  

While ceramic retains heat better, porcelain doesn't do a bad job at retaining heat as it is also non-porous.

Perhaps the only difference is that porcelain tends to be more fragile than ceramic and is usually also thinner.  

5. Cost 

When it comes to cost of porcelain mugs vs ceramic, porcelain is definitely pricier than ceramic.

It’s a little more difficult to craft porcelain as it needs to be fired at a temperature as high as 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Good quality porcelain also typically has a smooth texture, is thin enough to be translucent when held up to the light, and has a lovely luster.

While porcelain mugs tend to be pricier, they’re worth it if you’re not as concerned about durability and an air of elegance is desired.  

6. Safety  

Both ceramic and porcelain mugs are safe to drink from, but once again, it does depend on how they are made.

Both porcelain and ceramic mugs need to be baked long enough at hot enough temperatures, and painted with a quality glaze.

Most modern porcelain and ceramic mugs have the same glaze so this isn't an issue. 

If not baked long enough at hot temperatures, the lead can leach into the food and cause lead poisoning.

While rare, acidic drinks (such as coffee) and food especially can cause lead to leach out of ceramic mugs, so it’s important to be careful.  

Porcelain styled cup

Porcelain Vs Ceramic Mugs (FAQs For Coffee Drinkers) 

Do porcelain mugs contain lead? 

It's rare for porcelain mugs to contain lead. However, if not baked long enough at high temperatures, that is possible.

You also want to avoid anything with a decal image or logo applied to the surface, as these decals typically contain a high amount of lead.  

Is porcelain similar to glass? 

Porcelain and glass are quite different.

While glass is made by melting sand with a mixture of soda, potash, and lime, porcelain is a white translucent ceramic that's made by firing kaolin at a high temperature.  

Are all ceramic mugs microwave safe? 

Most ceramic mugs out there are microwave-safe, but make sure that you've read through the instructions if you're not sure. The exception is mugs that are lined with a metallic edge or finish.

You'll also want to be careful when removing your ceramic mug out of the microwave - it’s important that you don’t accidentally burn yourself!  

Do ceramic cups get hot when heating them up? 

Yes, ceramic mugs can get quite hot when you’re heating them up - especially in the microwave.

Even though ceramic mugs are generally resistant to heat, it depends on the type of ceramic mug you're heating up.

Your safest bet is to make sure that it's marked for use in the microwave.  


Conclusion

Both porcelain and ceramic mugs are great options for coffee lovers and they have their own unique benefits.

If you prefer something for everyday use, ceramic mugs are probably the way to go.

On the other hand, if you want something that has a more elegant touch to it, porcelain mugs are the best choice.  

Karmy Widjaja

Author

Karmy Widjaja
Karmy Widjaja, holding a degree in Hospitality Administration, combines her academic background with a profound passion for the world of coffee. Her work is enriched with a wealth of insights, not only about the art of coffee making but also about the broader aspects of the coffee industry. Her quest for coffee perfection is a central theme in her engaging articles, as she continues to explore the vibrant coffee scene in Perth. And when it's time for a coffee break? Karmy's all about a laid-back flat white with almond milk – it's her go-to for a tasty coffee kick.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... flat white with almond milk.

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