Christmas is the best around the Bassett house. We hunker down in the north woods of Maine, nom on nothing but guacamole and Christmas cookies, and discover new toys.
This years new toy came courtesy of my dad. Meet Ember, “Your new favorite mug.”
My dad is the king of discovering awesome, esoteric, perhaps-yet-untried, items that are often a total score. So far the Ember seems to be one of those items. It started as an Indiegogo campaign and has since spawned at least one additional form factor–the travel mug. It’s been around since 2015, but has only recently reached critical-enough mass to be sold on Amazon and in Starbucks everywhere. In fact it won the Time award for one of the best inventions of 2017.
The Ember is a weighted ceramic mug with a connected saucer that also acts as the charging port and connects to your iPhone or Android (in my case, Android) via the Ember App. You use the app to control and maintain the temperature of liquids that you want to keep warm. It’s the perfect gift for someone like me who has the tendency to get distracted halfway through a cup of coffee and never finish it.
The mug itself is heavy and the ceramic is soft to the touch. It feels good in your hands and the bottom portion where the charging, bluetooth, and heating elements live, is a smooth, almost seamless plastic. The charging saucer is the same ceramic material, with two tiny gold pins that connect to a loop along the bottom ring of cup to charge. Under the plastic edge just below the emblem is an LED light that glows a variety of colors–from red to blue– to indicate if the mug is warm, charged, and/or connected. It’s a really elegant design that is both understated and equally high-tech.
I was a little leery when I unboxed the Ember. I quickly (well, as quickly as I could on dial-up speed WiFi) googled it and found some rather displeased people out there. People complained about everything from connectivity issues to app problems. Despite some rather unflattering reviews in the Google Play store (mainly problems with connecting via Bluetooth), I had no problem immediately downloading the app (despite the afore-mentioned VERY slow Maine WiFi) and connecting to the mug. It did take a few tries to get the LED light on the side of the mug to turn blue but after just a few minutes of fussing, it connected right up.
As happenstance would have, I am currently nursing a rotten cold and had some lukewarm lemon, honey, and ginger tea in a ceramic mug. I decided to try it in the Ember and see how long it would take to heat up. I set the app to 135° and waited. Roughly 25 minutes later, the tea was toasty warm, and according to the app, 135° I decided to boost the temperature to 145° after a testing sip and waited another 10 minutes before it reached the desired temperature. Bonus points for not having to keep the cup connected to the saucer while it heats!
The mug itself is, for obvious reasons, hand-wash only and I was a bit nervous about the combination of liquid and electricity but so far the Ember has been great. I’ll certainly use it at the office (since taking a full-time job in July, I spend 99% of my life in meetings, and my coffee spends 99% of it’s time on my desk…) and it’s the perfect gift for the busy people in your life. The bad news? You have to buy the saucer separately. At least according to the site.
All in, it will cost you a hefty $120 for the Ember–but given my lifestyle, it’s worth it.
*****December 29, 2017 UPDATE–EMBER FAILS TO CONNECT TO PIXEL 2 *****
I got the Ember home to Los Angeles and went to boot up the heater on my Android. Sadly, the mug will no longer pair to my Pixel 2. I’ve restarted both the phone and the mug. Uninstalled and re-installed the app, and added and removed and re-added the mug. Still a no-go, which, is BEYOND frustrating.
I finally resorted to pairing my work phone (an iPhone 8) with the Ember. It connected faster, and appears to be working….so far. It even let me personalize the light color on the mug–a step that didn’t happen in the Android App.
I hate to say it–but Ember still has some bugs to work out with their connectivity, at least, when it comes to their Android app. Let’s hope that the iPhone app doesn’t crap out on me next. I’ll be out of phones to pair soon.