Are copper mugs safe for hot drinks?

Answered by James Porterfield

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of drink vessels, including copper mugs. Copper mugs have gained popularity in recent years, particularly for serving like the classic Moscow mule. However, their use is not limited to cold beverages. Copper mugs can indeed be used for hot drinks, but it is important to exercise caution due to the high thermal conductivity of copper.

Copper is an excellent conductor of heat, which means it can quickly transfer heat from a hot liquid to your hands. This can potentially result in burns if you are not careful. Therefore, it is crucial to handle copper mugs containing hot drinks with care and use appropriate precautions.

When serving hot drinks in copper mugs, it is advisable to use a handle or a sleeve to insulate your hands from the heat. Many copper mugs come with handles, making it easier to hold them without direct contact with the hot surface. If your mug does not have a handle, you can use a sleeve or wrap a cloth around the mug to provide insulation.

Additionally, it is important to note that copper reacts with acidic liquids, which can result in a metallic taste and even pose health risks. Therefore, it is recommended to line the interior of copper mugs with a food-safe lining, such as stainless steel or nickel. This lining acts as a barrier between the copper and the drink, preventing any chemical reactions and ensuring the safety of hot beverages.

It is worth mentioning that copper mugs are commonly used for hot drinks in some traditional cultures. For example, in India, copper vessels are often used for serving hot herbal or hot infused with herbs and spices. However, in these cases, the vessels are typically designed with handles and are not meant to be touched directly.

In my personal experience, I have used copper mugs for hot drinks on occasion. I found that using a handle or a sleeve significantly reduced the risk of burns while still allowing the beautiful thermal conductivity of copper to enhance the drinking experience. The warmth of the mug, when properly insulated, can add a delightful touch to hot beverages, making them even more enjoyable.

To summarize, copper mugs can be used for hot drinks, but caution must be exercised due to the high thermal conductivity of copper. Using a handle, sleeve, or lining the interior of the mug with a food-safe material can help prevent burns and any potential reaction between copper and acidic liquids. With proper precautions, copper mugs can be a stylish and functional choice for serving hot beverages.