Steal This Idea: Auto-Temperature Coffee Mug

07/18/2009

Several years ago, my wife and I stopped by Starbucks on our way to church, and got our respective beverages in our own insulated mugs (I’m not a coffee drinker, so I just get hot chocolate). As often happens at Starbucks, the drink I received was much too hot to drink. Because I had it in an insulated mug, it stayed at that temperature for a long time. In fact, 20 minutes later when we arrived at church, it was still too hot, and I ended up leaving it in the car and not drinking any of it.

So all through church I’m thinking about how to solve this problem, and what occurred to me is that what I need is a selectively insulated mug – a mug where the insulation can be broken to allow heat to escape, and then reestablish the insulation to hold it at that preferred temperature. What I envisioned were a series of metal ‘tabs’ inside the insulation layer that would expand when heated, and could be calibrated to connect with the metal exterior of the mug at n degrees, and then contract away from the outside when the temperature drops below n degrees. I sketched what that might look like …