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What’s Your Mug Selection Criteria?

Over the weekend my mate Nikki posted a picture on Facebook of her favourite mugs from Anthropologie.


Obviously, they’re gorgeous but the first thing I noticed was how tiny the handles are. In my household, that just simply would not do. And I told her as such…

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 12.05.37 am

And yes there bloody well is a blog post in that! Because everyone is very fussy about what kind of mug or cup they drink their tea from. Here’s my Hot Beverage Vessel Selection Criteria.

1. Must be big. I like a bucket of tea thank you very much.

2. Must have big handles. I need to go full fist on my mugs.

3. The rim cannot be too thin. It doesn’t have to be like a plank of wood in my mouth but bone china freaks me out.

4. I lean towards white mugs with some kind of minimal or meaningful design on it.

5. I hate textured, grainy, sandy or rough mugs. Not okay.

Here are a few example of Good Smaggle Mugs… if they applied for the job, they’d definitely get an interview.

Moustache Mug $16

moustacheTea Lover Mug $16

tea loverDwight Mug $16

dwight mugBoss Mug $16

boss mugJohn Snow Mug $14

johnsnwoBeemo Mug $16

beemomughYou’re Really Pretty Mug $16

prettymugLeslie Knope Mug $16

leslie knope mugTina Mug $14

bob's burger mug

Here is one of my actual favourite mugs. It’s from Bison – I have a set of four and they are just about as perfect as mugs get. I have a few others but these fit my selection criteria so perfectly, it’s rather difficult to waste my time on anything else.

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 A very fist-able mug if I do say so myself. 

So tell me… what’s your mug selection criteria? Big? Small? Thin? With a saucer? Is anyone else as obsessed with fist-sized handles as me?

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  1. Monica 9 years ago

    I too like white mugs but mine can be thinner, shorter wider. I only need two fingers to fit. I have also always loved how strong milky tea looks in a glass mug.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Oh I love glass mugs! I want a double insulated one with out handles one day!

  2. Tahlia Meredith 9 years ago

    You’re so random :p but also totally onto something! I like a good-sized mug without being too big – I don’t want my beverage to get too cold before I finish it. Also must be smooth, must be able to fit at least two fingers through the handle, and not too dainty feeling. Otherwise I’ll get nervous and clumsy and awkward. Sounds like we could be mug friends 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      We could be mug friends! Although 2 finger ins’t enough… enough I can cope with 3 but I really need 4.

  3. Christine 9 years ago

    For fun last Christmas I bought my kids each a Mr Men or Little Miss mug – son got Mr Strong cos he’s a bit of a gym weightlifting junkie, daughter 1 got little miss brainy (cos she is), daughter 2 got little miss chatterbox (cos she is).
    One of my daughters loves mugs WITHOUT handles. I have to wait till my tea is half cold before I can pick it up – pout. I like to drink my tea scalding hot, I love the little tiny burn as it goes down. So, needless to say all the mugs in my house have handles – and yes you have to be able to fit at least 3 fingers through the handle. Don’t mind ones with funny or quirky sayings – but I don’t like rude ones. I think there’s a Little Miss Fussy ???? xx

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      My auntie bought me the Little Miss Chatterbox one last year and I LOVE it! Mr Smaggle and I tend to fight over it… he really likes it. I think a Little Miss Fussy mug should definitely be a thing! I like cups without handles but they have to be properly insulated. Otherwise very ouchie and burny.

  4. Fiona 9 years ago

    I too am fussy! I like the inside of the mug to be white so that I can see the colour of my tea properly. I like GIANT cups (more like a bowl) for coffee but for tea I just like a large mug, often with a sarcastic/punny slogan on it.

    My husband likes plain white matching mugs, I like big mismatched mugs. So we have both.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      We have both in my house too! Although Mr Smaggle likes those short fat hotel and conference room types cups and he’ll have about 4 cups of tea a day in them. Weirdo.
      P.S – Does it feel awesome saying husband???

      • Fiona 9 years ago

        It does feel awesome! I was never comfortable with fiancé (sounds to ladeeda!) or before that partner (did we really have to steal that from the gay community? Why can’t they have a thing?) or boyfriend when he is 40+. . . So it is a relief to have a label that fits!

        We also are investing in no handled insulated glass mugs. This will be a new mug era!

  5. Alex 9 years ago

    I saw this conversation on Facebook and had high hopes that it would translate to a post! I’m with Nikki though, love my Anthro mug.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      They’re totally gorgeous – I just handle that handle. Do you like what I did there?

  6. dr stumpy 9 years ago

    I am also very particular about my mugs. I don’t like really big mugs for coffee, a perfect stumpy mug needs to be about 25% smaller than a tea mug – I have a set of 4 that was a 21st birthday gift from my parents (from an op shop because my mother does do first hand shopping – that could be a blog post)

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      You have very small hands though so I feel that’s swaying your selection criteria quite heavily! x

  7. Aitch 9 years ago

    I tend not to use mugs these days, I always make my cuppa in my KeepCup, even if I’m at home. I have the largest size one so it holds a nice big drink, and the lid keeps the heat in so it stays hot for ages.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      I had a keepcup but I felt like it made the drink taste weird? I’m very keen on getting a china version from Tea2 though!

  8. Nic 9 years ago

    I need Tea cups and coffee cups to be very different. Tea is bone china and I prefer plain? Coffee must hold 2 cups and be thicker with huge handles. I like minimalist. . White, Chevron or stone but not rough. If the cup sucks so does the drink.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Totally! It’s all in the mug. I don’t drink a lot of coffee at home but I do prefer a smaller mug for coffee… or whatever Mr Smaggle hands it to me in!

  9. I’m on Team Carly when it comes to mugs! I think we would quite happily sip together, side by side. My fave is the Tea Lover mug – too cute!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      I know! How cute is it? It does not surprise me at all that we are mug twins! 🙂

  10. merilyn 9 years ago

    lol … thanks smags!
    some of them are so funny I like the boss one!
    for my decaf coffee, I am happy with a nice mug with decent handle!
    but for my tea I want a fine bone china smaller mug … bit fussy there! … it has to have the right balance of aesthetics and weight!
    btw my paintings are at … red poles gallery restaurant and b&b, McLaren vale SA on consignment … it’s an interesting venue!
    I’ve been showing my work there for quite some time! … I will send a couple of photos!
    i like my work to evolve so they are diverse and varied genres! thanks for your interest!
    cheers! love m:)X

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      If you have a website pop it here! I’d love to check it out! x

  11. Laney 9 years ago

    I have a collection of mugs that completely mismatch and all have ‘special meaning’. Most are from different places I travelled to in the uk back in my hey-day. My favourite is a Wizard of Oz mug from Brighton and I also love my Disneyland Paris mug. I am actually really surprised they have lasted this long. I also find Starbucks do some nice mugs. Alas, I have no room in my cupboard for more mugs as I cannot part with any.

  12. Noneya Bidness 9 years ago

    I like HUGE mugs. I only drink out of mugs that are 500mls – my grandma on the other hand drinks her tea out of 1L mugs. She also has a 2L mug for tea drinking emergencies. I like to drink a lot of tea and hate getting up to make more over and over again! Sometimes if all of the big mugs are in the wash I will make 3 cups of tea in one go with varying temperatures and drink them one after the other. I’m dedicated like that.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Whoa. That IS dedication. I do think that bigger is better with tea but coffee I like to keep it small.

  13. Erin 9 years ago

    I completely agree about mug and handle size. Stability and capacity are important. Texture is more important to me, though, and material. It needs to be smooth, but some ridging is okay as long as it’s smooth and evenly glazed. I like hand-thrown pieces the best, with gentle transitions between colors. The rough bit on the bottom is okay (because it’s so much better than the sharp, instability-creating ridges if glaze pools around the things that lift them off the kiln floor when firing), but I don’t like interacting with it. Natural materials are highly preferable to me, and I value craftsmanship and the knowledge that purchasing something handcrafted benefits a creative individual.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      I NEED GLAZED MUGS! I cannot handle this trendy sand blasted thing that’s happening. Nope. I love a hnadcrafted mug too – I have a gorgeous one from a restaurant supply store and I’m gutted that I didn’t get more!

  14. My mugs need to be big. When it comes to cups of tea, size definitely matters. None of that bone china for me neither, I like to sip from something substantial. At home, I like to keep collections of matching mugs so that when we drink together, we are cuppily co-ordinated. At work, I keep a cute puppy mug because cute puppies make everything better! I think that’s a splendid selection of mugs you’ve collected there, Jon Snow for the win!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      What is with all the bine china lovers? I could quite happily never drink out of bone china again. I love the Jon Snow one!

  15. Caz 9 years ago

    Oh I am so fussy about my mug. I only drink tea out of this one HUGE mug that’s purple with Eeyore on it ( yes it’s slightly daggy but my Grandma gave it to me for Christmas at least 8 years ago and I’ve moved it from Vancouver to Australia and back again. If I ever break the thing I have no idea what I’ll do. I love it because it’s so big I can drink vats of green tea at a time and it sits on my desk at work because I pretty much mainline tea all day. The handle is huge so I can fit my whole hand (4 fingers) through it and hug the cup if it’s not too hot.

    As for coffee, 90% of the time I’m drinking it out of a disposable Starbucks cup, but at home I use a plain white ceramic mug. Nothing remarkable about it, I don’t have room for a mug collection but if I did I probably would. If I have brunch do’s at my place, all my mates know to bring a mug because I only own 4.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Oh I love it! One of my best mates bought me a mug that had ‘princess’ written on it and my dishwasher ate it. I was very sad. My Bison ones are amazing though – they’ve really stood the test of time!

  16. Rachel Ann 9 years ago

    I have certain mugs for certain things. A little one for tea on the weekends where I can make a pot of tea and keep going back for refills. A massive bowl of a mug for tea in the evenings to sip on whilst I get ready for bed. The handle should be in proportion to the mug (bigger the cup, bigger the handle), and I prefer the inside to be white so I can see the color of my tea. But that’s not a deal breaker.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      That’s a great criteria and one I didn’t even think of! Too true.

  17. Marsha 9 years ago

    Most important, absolutely most important, is the design that prevents contact between fingers and the super-hot part of the mug that is holding super-hot liquid. One must be able to hold the mug poised just so in respect to drinking while reading the newspaper, and if one finds one’s finger (usually the back of the middle finger, which too often is forced into contact with the hot bowl of the mug) starting to sting and then burn, the mug is badly designed and must be abandoned. There is no negotiating this.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      Oh yes! That’s so true! And something you can’t really test until you’ve bought the mug and filled with a hot beverage. Risky.

  18. Nicole (@dorkabrain) 9 years ago

    I like mugs that are more short and stout than tall and thin. It’s a strange thing to place a feeling to this, but the former just feel more cozy to me than the latter do. My current favourite mug is from Starbucks, I’m sad they’ve recently discontinued them.
    Also, if it’s a character mug, it needs to be shaped like a regular mug inside. Something about my coffee going into a side tunnel shaped like Santa’s foot is weird to me.
    I haven’t got any yet, but I’d like to get some of those mugs that are see-through and double walled. So chic and simple.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 years ago

      I love those mugs! Been wanting one for ages. I love specific you were about the tea going into santas foot. Like that’s something you’ve experienced and it’s left you with lasting trauma!

      • Nicole (@dorkabrain) 9 years ago

        The only brand I’ve found them in didn’t have the greatest reviews, so the quest for double walled mugs continues!
        Haha! That would actually be a fun trauma to talk about at parties. No, I think it just comes down to my imagination. And the idea that you’d have to hold the mug at ridiculous angles to get all of the liquid out and then it might be weird, cold, “cave” coffee. I just think coffee isn’t meant for nooks and crannies.

  19. Alisa Muir 9 years ago

    Agree… must be big. I purchased some cute mugs a year ago… but never use them because they are too small. Who has time for small amount of tea or coffee.. Not me.
    Agree handle must be big enough for full fist action (so many not ok thought popped into head).
    Yes must be kinda thick. no teeny thin mugs.
    I also hate weird texture on mugs.
    I do like colour though.. but do prefer the inside to be white.

    Not fussy at all.. lol

  20. Erika 9 years ago

    The bone china fetish has two main reasons. Very very finegrained, which means heat loss is kept to a minimum. And being so smooth, there’s a lovely feel on the lip.

  21. Juliette 9 years ago

    I love the Tina mug! Her character is so awesome. Personally though, I need my stuff to match so it’s a set of white mugs at my place.

  22. Bec 9 years ago

    I don’t mind a bi of a sandy natural stone clay grain type thing going on.. I have some lovely Robert Gordon mugs that I can fist and have great handles but a slight grain. Usually I go wiht a larger, thicker rim. No to bone… to skinny bleh!

  23. Mish 9 years ago

    I am a fuss pot when it comes to my mug – my current favourite is a Noritake mug that is painted with yellow stripes & a gold rim. It’s big enough to fit my morning coffee & all of my fingers fit through the handle, so it’s perfect for curling up on the lounge with a book!

  24. nessbow 9 years ago

    I think that you and I have similar mug selection criteria. Although I adore mugs and I buy loads of them, the ones I use the most often are large, with thick rims and big handles. I’m extremely clumsy, so I like a mug with a handle that fits all my fingers in it so that I can get a good grip. If I can only put a few fingers through the handle, chances are I’m going to spill it on myself.

    I also dislike mugs with grainy textures. Smooth is best. I like a mug that’s big enough to wrap my hands around. And all of my favourite mugs have geeky designs on them. My current favourites feature a Hogwarts crest, The Dunder Mifflin logo and the words “I met Lil’ Sebastian at the Pawnee Harvest Festival”.


  1. […] time though we ended up finding 7 Eleven’s and getting our tea from there. You could make a big cup of milky tea for $1 that really hit the spot when it was late at night, we’d been travelling all day and […]

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