How to Keep Coffee Warm Outside

Nothing is better on a cold day than that a hot cup of coffee. Not only does it keep your hands warm as you hold it, but it keeps you all toasty inside. Unless you like to gulp your coffee down, your coffee is sure to get cold on you, especially if you take it outdoors. 

So, how do you keep your coffee warm when you go outside? 

There are quite a few ways to do so, some being better than others. These include using a temperature-controlled smart mug, electric beverage warmer, insulated travel mug, immersion heater, coffee dispenser, or styrofoam cup. But which is easiest and will keep your coffee warm the longest?

Now, some of the most effective ways of keeping your coffee warm outside are going to cost more than the other options. We’ll start with the more expensive ways first and work our way down to the most cost-effective ways to get the job done. 

Temperature Controlled Smart Mug (Ember Mug)

The temperature-controlled smart mugs are by far the coolest thing I’ve used to keep coffee hot and ensuring that the temperature of my first sip is the same as my last sip. I purchased the Ember a while back, and it did not disappoint. 

So, how do these temperature-controlled mugs work? The material inside the walls of the mug is called Phase Changer Material. This is what allows the mug to sense when your coffee is cooling off and then pulls heat from the Phase Change Material battery to maintain your coffee’s temperature. It’s genius!

When you are not using your mug, store it on the charger for your next cup of coffee. I have found the battery life reasonable and lasts me a few hours. The newest Ember actually comes with a charging coaster that will keep your mug charged and your coffee warm ALL day. You can’t beat that. It comes in a variety of colors for everyone in your family. Below you’ll find the latest Ember on Amazon. 

Electric Cup Warmer

Another electric option is an electric beverage warmer. It’s a small hot plate that heats the bottom of your mug to keep the coffee inside hot. If you get a good one, it should keep your coffee warm for about three hours without scorching it, creating an unpleasant flavor. These work similar to candle warmers.

If you decide to go this route, I recommend the Nicelucky Coffee Mug Warmer. This device has excellent reviews from thousands of people on Amazon. I like the Nicelucky Coffee Mug Warmer because it fits a variety of sized coffee mugs on it. Also, depending on what model you purchase, there are 2-3 different heating temperatures to choose from. You can have you can keep your coffee nice and warm or piping hot. There’s also an auto shut-off, so no need to worry about forgetting about it and causing a hazard. 

Insulated Travel Mug (Like a Yeti Tumbler)

An insulated travel mug, or thermos is probably one of the easiest and simplest ways I’ve found to keep my coffee warm when going outside. I’ve tried all different kinds, and some worked well and others not so well. Depending on what you buy, your experience may be different.

If you are looking into purchasing a high-quality insulated mug, I would definitely recommend the Yeti Tumbler! Over the last few years, I have bought two for myself and some for friends and family. The one I bought five years ago is still in perfect condition and keeps my coffee warm for hours longer than other brands I’ve tried.

The Yeti Tumbler Mugs are double-walled and vacuum insulated and advertised to keep your coffee hot for up to twelve hours. They come in different sizes, shapes, and colors to fit everyone’s needs and preferences.

Thermal Carafe with a Pump

A coffee dispenser, or thermal carafe with a pump is another great way to keep your coffee warm when outside. These dispensers can often be found in hotels or restaurants that want the ability to serve many people at a time. These insulated dispensers are great if you have family or friends over for an evening or early morning outside.

Depending on which product you buy, the amount of time they keep your coffee warm ranges from 8-20 hours. The one below is the TOMAKEIT Airpot Coffee Carafe Thermal. It’s highly rated, holds 3 liters of coffee, and keeps coffee warm for up to 20 hours.

As your cup of Joe gets cooler, simply top it off with your coffee dispenser for a warm-up. A typical-sized coffee dispenser with a pump can hold about 12.5 servings of coffee, so it’s large enough for a small group of friends.

The only downfall to a coffee dispenser with a pump is that it doesn’t keep your individual cup of coffee warm, so that is something to consider when deciding.

Immersion Heater

Up next, we have an Immersion Heater. This little device is great for heating your coffee on the go. It uses 120V and can heat your favorite coffee in minutes. The only downfall to this is that it has to be plugged in when using it. So unless you can go inside for a couple of minutes to use or have an electrical plug outside, this option may not be for you.

I included it in our list because of its relatively small size and portability. It’s easy to throw in a purse, bag, or suitcase and take with you. I’ve used the Lewis N. Clark Portable Immersion Water Heater + Electric Kettle for Coffee, and it worked well with a smaller coffee mug. If you have one of those gigantic coffee mugs, it does take quite a bit longer to heat up.

Styrofoam Cup

Along with being the least expensive alternative, a styrofoam cup is the most classic way to keep your coffee hot. These cups have been around for a while because they are inexpensive and disposable.

Styrofoam cups are great at keeping things insulated and warm for about 30 minutes. They are suitable for what they are, but lower on our list because they only get the job done for a short amount of time.

If you are looking for something that won’t break the bank, this is a great option. Although, keep in mind you will have to be using a different one each time. So, in the long-run, you may actually spend more money on styrofoam cups.

Below is a table of the items discussed comparing how long each will keep your coffee warm along with a guide to see how they compare in cost.

ItemDuration of WarmthAverage Cost
Temperature Controlled Smart Mug (example: Ember)80 mins. off full charge
All day w/ charging coaster
Electric Beverage Warmer All day if on warmer$$
Insulated Travel Mug (Example: Yeti Tumbler)Up to 12 hrs.$$
Coffee Dispenser with a Pump8-20 hrs.$$
Immersion HeaterAll day if plugged in$
Styrofoam CupUp to 1/2 hr.$
Coffee Warmers

Last Resort Options to Keep Coffee Warm

If all else fails, below are some other options to try.

  • Scarf or Thick Piece of Fabric: Grab that scarf your grandma made you for Christmas (or any thick piece of fabric) and wrap it around your coffee mug. This may sound silly, but it will help a bit.
  • Mug Cozy
  • Metal Coffee Beans
  • Flask

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve gone over some great options on keeping your coffee warm outside, determining which one suits you best is next. Some things to consider: Are you going to have access to electricity? Is cost a huge factor? How long do you want/need your coffee to stay warm?

After pondering these questions, check out some of the options pictured above for the products we recommend, and enjoy your next cup of hot coffee outside!

The last thing you want to do if have to rewarm it in the microwave.

Do you enjoy hiking or backpacking? Check out “How to Carry Coffee When Hiking and Backpacking.”

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