The holidays are here. Thoughts have turned festive with food, gifts and celebrations. However, one of the best parts of the fall and winter seasons is getting to drink more of those yummy beverages that warm your tummy. While coffee is popular all year round, hot chocolate has a season. It runs roughly from November to February.
To be considered hot chocolate, the beverage actually has to be hot. That can be a problem in the winter because the colder air temperatures can quickly cool the beverage in your mug. Popping your hot chocolate in the microwave every few minutes is one way to keep the temperature high. But a far better and safer way is to use a smart mug.
Drinking a hot beverage is an immersive, mindful experience that helps you slow down and relax. You drink it slower, so you have a moment to yourself, and breathe deeper as you blow across the surface to cool the beverage. As the hot chocolate enters the body, blood vessels expand, circulation improves and muscles relax. Also, the hot mug warms your hands as you hold it, and the chocolate smells so good. Scientists have even performed studies showing that holding a hot beverage in your hand makes you friendlier.
Lastly, it's not just the imagination that makes hot chocolate taste so much better. When the temperature of a food or drink is higher, the taste buds send a stronger electrical signal to the brain. This means hot chocolate delivers a more intense flavor experience.
According to the National Library of Medicine, the preferred drinking temperature of hot beverages, such as tea, hot chocolate and coffee, is roughly 140 degrees. If the temperature drops below this ideal, the beverage will provide less satisfaction when drinking. However, if hot chocolate is served at 140 degrees, it will quickly drop below that optimum temperature. For this reason, hot beverages are often served between 160 and 185 degrees. As it cools down, it becomes the perfect temperature to create maximum pleasure. Unfortunately, 160 degrees is hot enough to cause significant scald burns if you sip your hot chocolate too soon.
A smart mug is more than just an insulated thermos that reduces temperature exchange between your beverage and the surrounding air. A smart mug is a powered device that can keep your preferred drink at a constant temperature indefinitely. The main benefit is you do not have to heat up your hot chocolate and wait for it to cool down, only to then heat it up again. With a smart mug, you can set your desired temperature and know that every sip will be perfect.
If a smart mug doesn't get as hot as you desire, it won't satisfy you. Make sure the model you are considering keeps your hot chocolate hot enough.
Not only is precision important for getting to the temperature you desire, but the mug you choose should be able to hold that temperature without fluctuating up and down.
How do you control the temperature of your smart mug? While it can be cool to select a temperature by tapping your phone, it's much more convenient to have a temperature control right on your mug. However, be warned, this is a rare feature, so you will have to pay extra for it.
Another feature you won't find on too many smart heated mugs is a display. When you can see the temperature on the mug, you know, even before you sip, that your experience will be sublime.
For safety, consider getting a mug that has an auto-off feature.
If you will be taking your mug with you on your morning commute, having a model with a spill-proof lid is essential.
If your mug has its own built-in power source, you want the battery to last long enough for you to consume the entire mug. If you take two hours to finish a cup, but the battery only lasts 90 minutes, you will not have the experience you hoped to have.
The Ember Temperature Control smart mug has a built-in battery that can keep the temperature of your beverage consistent for up to 80 minutes. If you prefer all-day convenience, simply use the included charging coaster. The temperature range of this Ember smart mug is 120 to 145 degrees. In the BestReviews Testing Lab, we noted its high-quality build, accurate temperatures and ease of setup.
This self-heating coffee mug has an LED temperature indicator built into the mug, so you always know the precise temperature of your beverage. Battery life is roughly 90 minutes, with all-day warming when using the coaster.
The Lomi smart mug warmer puts a spin on the mug-warming coaster idea. When you are not using it to keep your hot chocolate at a precise 122 degrees, you can use it as a wireless charging pad to power up your Qi-compatible devices.
Cosori's approach to the mug warmer also gives you a little something extra. While the stainless steel mug is designed to keep coffee hot longer than the typical mug, the warming coaster is actually a hot plate with a maximum temperature of 230 degrees. You can use it to warm up your favorite beverage or to keep a side dish hot.
If budget is your primary concern, this offering from Mr. Coffee does not come with a mug, so it is more affordable. The coaster features an on/off switch with an indicator light, and it can warm up your mug of chocolate in about two minutes.
This 16-ounce travel mug is specifically designed for use in your vehicle. It plugs directly into your 12-volt power port, and a non-spill lid keeps things from getting messy on your commute. This mug will keep your beverages warm for up to two hours after it's unplugged.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.