Easy by Design: Ember Mug
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Easy By Design: Ember

In our Easy by Design series we explore innovative, well-designed products, services, and experiences. This week: Ember.

Read Time: 5 minutes

At Jot, we try to keep our finger on the highly caffeinated pulse of the coffee industry’s newest and most innovative brands and products.

As part of this research, we try out a lot of travel mugs. We’ve become well-versed in mug arcana like: how ceramic vs. stainless steel affects the flavor of iced lattes, the washability of detachable and flip-top lids, and the tactile pleasure of setting a mug with a silicone footer on a tabletop.

One innovative design that has stood out in our research is the Ember mug

The brand Ember has come up with an extremely unique approach. Their battery-powered smart mug makes sure your coffee is never too hot or too cold.

There are two Ember product lines, a classic coffee mug (which retails for $129.95) and a travel version (which retails for $179.95). Both feature a dual-band microprocessor-controlled heating element, precision sensors for detecting temperature and liquid level, and a lithium-ion battery that stays charged for roughly an hour and a half, at which point you can set the mug on the included wireless “charging coaster.”

For the past few months, Jot's VP of Growth, James, has been using an Ember mug for drinking his office Ultra Coffee, so we asked him for his thoughts for our Easy by Design series.

James describes the fundamental problem that the Ember mug sets out to solve this way:

“I don’t like coffee or tea that is too hot, so I always make a cup and then leave it for a few minutes. Then I try a sip and it burns, so I leave it a bit more. Then my kids need me so I go and do that for a bit, then I come back to my mug and it’s cold."

Ember travel mug

“The Ember mug stays at my desired temp. for about 90 minutes. I can now make a cup and just walk away and get things done, knowing that it will be my ideal cup of coffee when I get back. Or, I keep it in the office, so I can make a cup and bring it to meetings.”

Quality Score: 8/10

Overall, James loves the Ember experience.

“The typical coffee drinker probably gets to enjoy their optimal coffee temperature for roughly 25% of the drinking experience. I’m hitting that 100% of the time, all the time.”

A nice design touch is the smartphone integration, which allows you to set your desired temperature, create presets for different drinks, track your caffeine intake, and even customize the color of the mug’s LED light.

“I get a push notification on my phone when the drink reaches my desired drinking temperature. No more blowing on it before tentatively taking a sip only to burn myself.”

However, James dings the Ember a couple of points for the quality of the charging coaster. “The mug is great, but the plastic base doesn’t match the quality.” 

Convenience Score: 8/10

When it comes to convenience, the Ember is incredibly easy to use. “The mug has a little robot inside that can maintain any temperature level. So I tell it via an app, and then it gets to work.”

One downside to the Ember, however, is that it can only keep a drink hot. So, for the occasional (or always) iced-coffee drinkers, that’s likely a dealbreaker.

The charging experience, as well, could use some improvement. The battery life is roughly 90 minutes, which has prompted James to use his Ember only at the office, where he simply keeps his mug on the charging coaster whenever he’s at his desk.

“Longer battery life would be nice,” he says, “so that I could charge it at home in the morning and then bring it to the office, without needing to bring the charger. I now just keep the mug and charger at work because of this.”

Ease Score: 10/10

It’s often the case with smart hardware that any innovations in product design get undermined by a clunky and over-complicated app experience. That is definitely not the case with the Ember mug.

Ember’s designers seem to understand that something like a smart coffee mug really just needs to do one job and do it perfectly. It should become something that the user doesn’t even need to think about because it performs its role so well.

That has been James’ experience with Ember. He set his app preferences one time and that was it. Now, at Jot, even though there are test mugs literally all over the office, James sticks with his tried-and-true Ember.

While the price tag will obviously be a roadblock for many customers (especially for iced-coffee and cold-brew drinkers), for others, it will be well worth the splurge.

Our Takeaway

At Jot, we understand that, when a product that provides what may seem like only a minor convenience is creatively and beautifully designed, it can become a source of true joy.

Ember is one such product.

While the price tag will obviously be a roadblock for many customers (especially for iced-coffee and cold-brew drinkers), for others, such as desk workers with an all-day coffee-sipping habit, it will be well worth the splurge. Because it may not seem like a big deal for your coffee to always be the perfect temperature, but at the same time...wouldn’t it be pretty cool if it were? 

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