When you are trying to brew a perfect cup of coffee, many factors will play a role in exactly how close to perfection you come. To begin with, there is the type of coffee you use. Instant coffees lack the deep, rich flavor and aroma that, say, a filter coffee from Southern India or your favorite blend will have. The next thing is using only fresh, clean water, which is why most coffee makers come with a built-in water filter. A clean coffee maker and carafe will ensure there is no stale flavor hints to your coffee. Not only the brewing process, but also the mug you pour your coffee into affects its flavor.
Usually ceramic or porcelain coffee cups are the best when it comes to keeping the original flavor of the coffee in tact. Porcelain is more natural in its composition. This means there are no harmful chemicals leeching into your coffee. They not only alter the flavor, but are dangerous to health as well. As long as porcelain mugs do not use glazes to create designs, they are pretty safe to use and easy to buy.
Glass coffee mugs are every bit as safe and good as ceramic mugs. They do not keep coffee hot as long as a porcelain mug can, but when has perfectly good coffee lasted for hours, without another hot refill? Their transparency affords you a look at the rich brown color of the coffee in your cup.
Stainless steel coffee cups are also good. Some say that they give coffee a bit of a metallic taste. Their main advantage is that they do not break when accidentally dropped (which shouldn’t happen if it’s in the right drink holder). Also, most mugs have an insulated design that helps keep coffee warm longer. Some even come with lids that prevent spilling and keep it warm.
Plastic, Styrofoam, and paper are the worst materials for coffee mugs. They are made using chemicals, which will leech into your drink, if it is adequately hot. This not only adversely affects flavor, but also poses a health hazard. Plus, these cups are bad for the ecosystem.
And finally, the taste of even the most perfectly brewed coffee can be affected by the coffee residue that clings to mugs. Clean your mugs regularly to prevent this kind of a build-up. If the mug has stains, then plain soap and water may not be sufficient to clean them. Pour vinegar into the mug and let it sit. This will have your mug looking as good as new. Vinegar is natural and non-toxic and, thus, safer than chlorine-based cleansers.
Maybe not the most critical factor affecting the flavor of your coffee, but the type of mug does play a small and subtle role. And if it is a perfect cup (and cup holder) you are looking to brew, then every bit will matter.