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11 best tea and coffee mugs for work

We have sourced the best mugs around after taking them for an office road test, to arm you with the perfect cuppa

This essential beverage accessory guide is indispensable for coffee and tea lovers ( The Independent/iStock )

The search for the perfect coffee break companion is over. Whether you want to stand out from the work crowd and make a statement with your mug, or you’re a stickler for functionality and features, we have searched high and low so you can sit back and put your feet up with the best mug on the market.

You may be an espresso fan, a hazelnut latte lover or insist only on the finest builders tea around during your precious work time-out, but the vessel you choose to retreat with twice a day (or more if you’re lucky) should make it a pleasure.

The first pit stop is to ask yourself what is really important to you during your working day. When it comes to size, it can really matter in the coffee break world. The last thing you may want is to be running back and forth from the kitchen to refill an inadequately sized mug.

Then it’s worth considering the dishwasher versus hand wash debate, which is more important to you? Then there’s the size of the handle, and whether you like your brew from a bone china cup or rough and ready, earthy stoneware? The choices are endless.

We have sourced the best mugs around after taking them for an office road test, to arm you with the perfect cuppa. This essential beverage accessory guide is indispensable for coffee and tea lovers out there – afterall, who doesn’t love a tea break?

SeaSalt Cornwall leach mug: £19.95, SeaSalt Cornwall

This mug is guaranteed to transport you to a sun-soaked Cornish beach and what’s better than that on the nine-to-five grind? Created from locally sourced clay from St Agnes beach in Cornwall this glazed mug is made at the world famous Leach pottery.

Each one is individually hand thrown and we love the rustic, earthy feel of it. It has a sturdiness without ever feeling clunky and has a lovely wide handle to grip. If you want a hard wearing yet stylish stoneware pottery mug to sip from, this is great buy. Highly covetable, as we discovered from the many compliments we got during the day.

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Emma Bridgewater London at night half pint mug: £19.95, Emma Bridgewater

Eponymous British ceramic designer Emma Bridgewater does not disappoint with this London at night mug. Beautifully illustrated with the modern London skyline, the whole office had fun trying to name all the images during our test. It's microwave safe, which makes it handy for cups of soup, and the chunky design means it coped with the office dishwasher with ease. We would have liked it to have been a bit bigger perhaps, but that is the only downside to this modern classic.

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Oliver Bonas tamma orange porcelain mug: £12, Oliver Bonas

Give tea time an upgrade with the stylish detailing of the tamma mug. Made from porcelain we found it lovely and refined to drink from. It features an elegant standout stem base and rounded body which makes it a pleasure to wrap your hands around. Hand painted and stamped with metallic dots, the minus is that it isn’t dishwasher or microwave safe, but we loved it for its sheer beauty. It is also bang on-trend, sporting the orangey hue of Pantone’s colour of the year, "Living Coral".

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Anthropologie mimira mug: £14, Anthropologie

This is a giant amongst mugs – much bigger at 470ml than the picture gives away. We loved the mimira mug for the huge amount of caffeine it was able to hold and its general sturdiness, combined with the glamour of its pretty metallic flecks. This is a stoneware ceramic that is hand wash only, but was a nice talking point during tests, being a collaboration between Anthropologie and North Carolina based ceramicist Lindsay Emery. It comes in cream and navy and at £14 is good value for a designer mug.

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Heals hammershoi mug: £22, Heals

This sleek mug is beautifully made with an elegant, slim handle that’s a pleasure to hold. The iconic furrow design dates back to a 1904 original by Svend Hammershoi. Understated and pleasingly light to pick up, this reworking of a 20th century design classic by artist Hans-Christian Bauer is a great choice for those who like their coffee to come with a nod to designer heritage. A gloriously glossy, hand glazed ceramic, it may not be dishwasher suitable, but it’s an utterly charming coffee break companion.

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Suck UK my cupper tea mug: £10, Trouva

This mug really tickled our testing panel, and all who came into contact with it during the day. This one is designed for tea lovers who crave the perfect strength every time the kettle is boiled. With a handy built in colour-match element, you can give your cup to whoever's making the round and know they’ll come back with the perfect cup every time. Genius we think. From shades of builders brew to milky tea, we loved this kooky and weirdly practical mug. Plus, it is safe to throw in the dishwasher or microwave.

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National Theatre Bookshop Shakespeare mug: £14, National Theatre Bookshop

This William Shakespeare bone china mug is a wonderfully whimsical way to start (or finish) the day. It features a funky illustration by James Barker on the front, an inspiring quote on the reverse and the famous Yorick’s skull from Hamlet on the inside, which appears when you’ve emptied your mug.

Made from the finest bone china sourced in Europe and hand decorated in Stoke-on-Trent, we found it a lovely addition to any desk. At just over of 11cm in height it was quite small, but being dishwasher and microwave safe was a real plus.

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Emma Lacey everyday mug: £36, The Conran Shop

This one really is what it says on the tin. London based ceramicist Emma Lacey brings us this hand thrown stoneware clay mug finished with a tactile satin matt glaze. A lovely little quirk is the dent in each mug, giving it a sensual aesthetic and shape that is highly ergonomic to use.

The wide handle enables you to get a good hug around a warm drink, and with 450ml capacity it is a super size, making our coffee last the longest of the lot. It comes in eight pastel colour ways and is also dishwasher safe, this one gets a big thumbs up from us.

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Heals Myer Halliday mug: From £24, Heals

The motto of this Edinburgh based company is "making things you’ll love to live with" and that ethos stands out in this collection by ceramic designer Myer Halliday. A graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, he combines a mixture of textures and patterns in his mugs. We loved the braille-like feel, and although it’s only hand wash, it is fine for the microwave.

The mugs are crafted from parian, a self-glazing porcelain prized for its marble-like qualities. Each mug is hand sanded and hand painted, making your coffee break mug a real statement. We struggled to get a large latte in ours, so it's not the biggest of mugs which is a downside, but highly stylish nonetheless.

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Sass & Belle ziggy the chevron tropical flamingo mug: £7.50, Sass & Belle

Livening up our coffee break test was this quirky mug by Sass & Belle. We loved this kooky cup because of the fashionable flamingo motif, which was surprisingly comfy to grasp – although less easy for those with bigger hands we found. But it never once got mixed up and lost with all the other office cups.

Nice and deep at 12.5cm tall and teamed with an on-trend chevron print, it raised a lot of smiles. We think it could be quite a marmite mug (you’ll love it or hate it) but we found it perfect for brightening up that morning meeting.

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Quirky Bird tea infuser glass mug: £16, Yours Sustainably

This tea infuser is ideal for the eco-conscious tea break lover. Did you know that tea bags are not biodegradable? Due to plastic in the seal that holds them together. Step forward the Quirky Bird, easy to use and a great conversation starter over the office kettle. It's very easy to use: pop in loose tea, pour in water and go.

The T-bird is easily removable, you can then flip the lid to create a drip tray. We tried it with fresh mint leaves too which worked a treat. Obviously this isn't the mug for coffee-lovers, but the sleek and clever Scandi design is about as environmentally guilt-free as it comes for tea making. It's a lovely 400ml big size too.

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The verdict: Best mugs for work

The competition was tough but for us SeaSalt Cornwall’s keach mug came out on top. Not only is it hand thrown with Cornish clay and hand painted, it has a good sturdy feel and great heat retention. All of these features make it our top favourite for combining style and sustainability for under £20. If it is cheap and highly cheerful that you’re after then the my cupper tea mug from Trouva at £10 is a bargain, a great fun buy for the office that’s also highly practical.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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