Ember Travel Mug 2+ Review

Ember Travel Mug 2+ (Photo: Alex Kidman)

The Ember Travel Mug 2+ will keep your drinks warm for hours, but some interesting design choices and high price will be off-putting for all but the most dedicated coffee fanatics.

Pros Cons
Can alter temperature on the mug as needed It’s SERIOUSLY expensive
Drinkable from any side Drinking motion is a little odd
Custom message on the cup is a cute feature Tall size makes it awkward for coffee machines

Score: 3/5


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In this review


I like coffee.

That’s not news to anyone who knows me in any way, shape or form.

Not that long ago, I reviewed Ember’s Smart Mug – you can read my review of that over at Gizmodo Australia – or watch the video below:

As you might expect from its name, the Ember Travel Mug 2+ is very similar in approach to the Ember Smart Mug, only pitched more towards folks who want their coffee to go. It’s got many of the same benefit and catches of its smaller sibling… as well as a few quirks of its own.


The Ember Travel Mug 2+ is a tall, essentially thermos-like coffee cup with a removable pop-down lid at the top. Unlike the Ember Smart Mug, this is the Model T of smart coffee cups, in that you can have any colour you like – as long as it’s black.

The big thing about the Ember Travel Mug 2+ is that it’s, well… big. 20cm tall, which might lead you to think that it’s going to contain a huge quantity of coffee. That’s not so, however.

The realities of insulation plus building in an internal heating element means that its liquid capacity is just 354ml (or 12Oz if you’re an American, I guess), or about the same as most of the standard coffee cups I own.

That height does make it hard to miss, but it also can create something of a challenge in use, depending on where it is you get your coffee from.

If you’re using a filter pot or any coffee approach that involves pouring from a jug, it’s just a matter of raising the jug a little higher, but if you’re using a coffee machine, you end up having to tilt it at a very odd angle just to get the coffee in.

Either that, or you make it in a regular cup and then pour it into the Ember Travel Mug 2+ afterwards, at which point you really do start wondering why you dropped $299 on a coffee cup.

Yes folks, like the Ember Smart Mug, the Ember Travel Mug 2+ is not inexpensive. That’s worth bringing up early on, because it’s likely to be the sticker shock barrier for many buyers.

Like the Smart Mug, the Ember Travel Mug 2+ uses inductive charging via a supplied charge plate in the box. Where the Smart Mug has a purely circular charging base, the Ember Travel Mug 2+’s base is oval shaped. I don’t quite get why; cross testing shows that either mug can use either charger, and the circular shaped Smart Mug base plate is a touch more space efficient.

One big difference between the Ember Travel Mug 2+ and its Smart Mug sibling is in the use of display panels and touch sensitive areas. The Ember Smart Mug just has customisable coloured lighting to show which mug’s yours or if the battery is going flat, but the Ember Travel Mug 2+ goes all out with an LED display beneath the Ember Logo that lights up when you tap the logo.

A single tap will show the current temperature, a double tap brings up a slider so you can adjust the internal temperature up or down sans the Ember app and a triple tap will show your choice of customised messages, a much neater approach than just having your own colour of Ember Smart Mug.

The Ember Travel Mug 2+ is a travel-suitable mug, but like Ember's other products, it's not dishwasher safe, with the general advice being to hand-wash it carefully to avoid damage to it. If your travel needs cover off needing something on the rugged side, this isn't exactly right product for you either.


Because the Ember Travel Mug 2+ has that onboard temperature control, you could theoretically just use it without needing the companion Ember App at all, though I’d once again be left wondering why you’d buy a smart coffee cup and only use some of its feature set.

Pairing to the Ember app – available for iOS or Android – is a simple process, and in my case it was a question of adding an extra cup to my existing app. That does invite a small amount of lag because the app just presents your mugs in the order they were originally paired, so each time I want to configure the Ember Travel Mug 2+, I have to specifically select it from that list, with no way to set a “favourite” or “fast launching” cup for preference.

As with the Smart Mug, the core feature of the app is allowing you to experiment with the way that temperature affects your appreciation of coffee or other hot beverages. I’d figured out that my own personal coffee preference sits at 59.5 degrees, but your tolerances may vary, as long as they sit within the 49 to 62 degree range that's supported. As with the Smart Mug, if you’re on an iPhone, you can also feed your estimated caffeine intake through to Apple Health through the Ember app.

When the time comes to imbibe your tasty beverage, it will be through the spillproof lid that allows for drinking from any angle, so while it’s circular there’s no “wrong” way to hold it.

It's hard to drink the coffee within this way, but it does show that it's essentially spillproof.

All of that works well enough, but – and this is truly weird to say – it means that this is a coffee cup with a very slight learning curve when it comes to drinking out of it.

The coffee comes out nice and hot (depending on your preference, naturally), but with quite a wide flow that I’ve found a little challenging to drink at times.

The open lid can deliver coffee in a wider flow than my lips would really like.

I guess that’s better than drenching you in coffee if you were drinking in the car (not to my understanding strictly illegal here in Australia, though you could fall foul of other laws relating to driver distraction), but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Ember advises that the Ember Travel Mug 2+ is good for keeping drinks warm for up to three hours, which is typically way longer than any cup of coffee lasts around me. Having tested this out – as much a test of my drinking patience and caffeine addiction as a battery test – it mostly holds true, though I am struck by the thought that many Australian car trips are far longer than just three hours.

Ember Travel Mug 2+: Alex’s Verdict

The Ember Travel Mug 2+ does deliver on its promises in terms of keeping your coffee warm, but I’m honestly far less besotted with it than the simpler Smart Mug.

The price here is an obvious sticking point, but I’d add to that the fact that it’s physically much larger while not really bumping up its liquid capacity as well as the slightly odd drinking action that’s required to use it.

It’s also not hard to see an argument that if you want or need coffee to stay warm for more than three hours it’s not going to cut it, but a considerably cheaper thermos probably would. You wouldn’t get the absolute temperature control you get here, for sure, but I suspect for many people who want coffee to go on those longer Aussie road trips, that would be a smarter buy.

Ember Travel Mug 2+: Pricing and availability

The Ember Travel Mug 2+ retails in Australia for $299.

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