The Definitive Best Mug Shape For Drinking Coffee

Coffee is a subject of much scrutiny and research in the culinary world, and it's easy to see why. It's an essential part of many people's morning routines, with 49% of American adults drinking coffee daily, according to a 2016 study published in The Journal of Nutrition. It should come as no surprise, then, that the search for the perfect sip is a serious venture undertaken by casual drinkers and coffee snobs alike. But have you considered the role your coffee cup plays in shaping your drinking experience?


There are plenty of tips and tricks out there to help you track down that ideal cup of joe, and if you take coffee seriously, you may already practice some of these. For example, you may know the ins and outs of how tap water affects your brew. You may know your preferred roast of coffee bean. You may even know how to taste coffee like a true professional. But you might not have considered that your mug's shape is crucial in achieving that ideal sip, and what's more, differently shaped mugs will either help or hinder your coffee-drinking satisfaction.

Finding the perfect cup

On one hand, a narrow-walled mug may be ideal for your coffee because it highlights the brew's aroma; on the other hand, a wide mug that leaves plenty of space between the liquid and the mug's brim (known as headspace) will extract the essence of your coffee most effectively. This may seem like a paradox, but remember, these aren't mutually exclusive traits. While you may think of a stout, round diner mug as an example of a wide-brimmed cup, some coffee mugs out there have relatively wide mouths, even though their sides are considerably taller and narrower than any bowl-style latte mug.


A tulip mug, for example, has tall, sloped sides and a small base relative to its mouth. This gives you the best of both worlds: a balanced combination of narrow sides, allowing for optimal aromatics, and a wide brim, giving your coffee plenty of headspace so it can properly breathe. Of course, this doesn't mean that coffee in any other type of mug will be bad, but if you're seeking that coveted perfect cup, it's important to consider just how much the shape of your mug will affect your morning brew.

Your mug is more than just a vessel

The notion of your mug affecting the taste of your brew may seem strange, but if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. You need only visit the world of wines to discover that the shape of your glassware is paramount to your drinking experience, and wine enthusiasts have experimented for years to achieve the optimal sip. It's only reasonable, then, to apply a similar methodology to mug choice. According to a 2018 study published in Food Quality and Preference, coffee has between 200 and 400 more aromatic compounds than wine, making it extremely sensitive to your glassware choices.


At the end of the day, while the tulip mug is an ideal choice for maximizing aroma and headspace, you can try different types — it's worth knowing how different vessels will affect your coffee-drinking experience. With this knowledge, you're one step closer to achieving the perfect cup every time. Also, if you want to level up your brew even further but only have instant on hand, consider this trick that will make your instant coffee taste café-made.