Your morning cup of coffee is a cultural moment-- and an irresistible target for innovators and entrepreneurs. Coffee mugs come in an endless variety of designs, and are increasingly loaded with features of amusing, if not entirely practical, value: There's the Dunk Mug which includes a special compartment for holding cookies, and the Plug Mug which comes with, you guessed it, a removable plug-- so no one but the owner can use it. Two particularly delightful recent innovations in coffee muggery are featured below.
The first is a paternalistic cup called Nohot that won't let you drink until your beverage has cooled to a safe temperature. The top is made from a heat sensitive material that swells at high temperatures, obstructing your ability to sip, and flattens out once your coffee reaches 86 degrees. Cool as a concept; surely annoying as a product.
The second innovation is a heat harnessing coaster that turns your coffee mug into an alternative energy source. The Epiphany onE puck (currently raising money on Kickstarter) collects the dissipating heat from a hot drink (or the waning chill from a cold one) and uses it to charge your iPhone:
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.