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

If you're someone that enjoys drinking coffee, it's likely that you're wondering which material is best for a coffee mug.  

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

Porcelain was invented in China around 600 CE and is typically used for both hot and cold drinks. Porcelain mugs are made from a clay mixture that’s fired in a kiln. In comparison to ceramic, however, it’s made from 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?)

Porcelain mugs are both popular and lightweight. They also do not retain any flavors or smells. Porcelain 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 mugs also originated in China and are typically also made from a clay mixture that’s fired in a kiln. In comparison to porcelain, ceramic mugs are relatively inexpensive and come in a wide variety of forms. For example, stoneware and earthenware 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 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 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 designs and colors. In some instances, you could even customize your own ceramic mug if you’d like.  

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

2. Durability 

In terms of durability, both porcelain and ceramic are 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 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, 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 retaining heat 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 might be 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, 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.  

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 and high temperatures.  

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 ceramic and porcelain mugs are great options for coffee lovers. If you prefer something for everyday use, ceramic mugs are a great option. On the other hand, if you want something that has a more elegant touch to it, opt for porcelain mugs instead.