Starbucks Now Carries an $80 Smart Mug: What it is and How It Works
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What’s a Smart Mug?
LAST YEAR, STARBUCKS BRIEFLY CARRIED THE ORIGINAL $150 EMBER SMART TRAVEL MUG before it rapidly sold out.
What’s a Smart Mug, you ask? Well, in the case of the Ember mug, it can keep your drink at a desired (hot) temperature for “approximately two hours”, eliminating the everyday annoyance of your coffee or tea being either too hot or too cold 90% of the time you’re actually drinking it. It will not heat up your beverage if you don’t pour it in already hot, read how it works below.
The original Ember Smart Travel Mug was a 12oz. capacity black thermos with a digital temperture readout on it. It comes complete with an app that will notify you when your beverage reaches your desired temperature, allow you to remotely change its temperature, etc.
If you’re interested, you can buy the original Ember Travel Mug on Amazon here. I confess that I’m curious:
The New Ceramic Mug, Now at Starbucks
ON THURSDAY (NOVEMBER 9TH), STARBUCKS LAUNCHED THE NEW EMBER CERAMIC SMART MUG FOR $80 in most of its stores.
This one is white (pictured above), has a capacity of 10 ounces, and looks quite aesthetically pleasing. The battery life, according to a review, should be around 1.5 to 2 hours I couldn’t find battery life information from the manufacturer at all, which is a little odd, considering it sounds pretty on-par with their previous Travel Mug product.
I’m not sure how I feel about having a glowing light on my drinkware, but you can change the color of the light to better suit your taste, and I’d use one regardless. The idea seems to have taken off, so I’m sure competitors will provide us with many different options in regards to capacity, battery life and looks in the near future.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Well, not exactly how you might expect. In doing research on the original Ember Travel Mug, I came across an enlightening bit of information that may reduce the amount of confusion around what this product is actuall good for. I assumed the mug countained a simple heating element with excellent sensors, temperature control and heat distribution. I was wrong.
According to Amazon reviewer Ed Harris:
“It looks like many people think that this is a battery operated/heated mug – not an unreasonable asasumption since you do, after all, have to charge the battery.
What really happens is much more interesting. Inside the walls of the mug is something that is called a Phase Changer Material (PCM).
When I brew a cup of coffee in my Keurig coffee maker directly into the mug, the initial temperature is about 175 degrees with a target of 140 degrees. What the Ember mug does is to extract the heat from the coffee and store it in the PCM. In this case, the material starts out in a waxy form and liquifies as it absorbs heat.
This fairly quickly cools the coffee down to the desired temperature, but in the process the PCM becomes a heat storage “battery”.
Once the coffee reaches 140 degrees and starts to cool, the mug senses this and extracts heat from the PCM “battery” and uses that to maintain the temperature rather than directly heating the coffee using normal battery power.”
For my purposes, the way this technology works would not be a problem at all.
I brew my coffee at 200°-205°F, and Starbucks makes its lattes standard at 180°F. At those temperatures, the Ember products would work great. Cappuccinos are around 140°F at Starbucks, but those are meant to be consumed quickly.
I may pick up one of these products at some point, and it could be a game-changer for the right fan of hot beverages.
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