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Hands down, a cool mug design

Can a coffee mug change a life? This is the intent of Allen and Diana Arseneau, a husband-and-wife team who have reengineered the coffee mug to create the Jamber, a ceramic cup with a wide handle shaped like an elephant ear, making the mug especially easy to pick up and comfortable to hold. The handle slopes downward and puts your hand in a “functional rest” or neutral position, letting you hold the mug with your full fist instead of with a thumb and two fingers. A stabilizing nub at the base of the handle helps prevent spills. The idea came to the Hull couple after a lunch with Allen’s 82-year-old grandfather, who was having trouble holding his cup of coffee because of arthritis. “When we saw him struggling we realized how uncomfortable mugs could be,” says Allen. The two also recognized how people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS, other physical challenges or hand injuries all find it difficult to hold a mug. The Arseneaus both worked in biotech and pharmaceutical industries — Allen has a biochemical engineering degree and an MBA and Diana, a degree in chemistry. From their research they discovered the design of the standard cup hasn’t changed in 5,000 years. “We wanted to create something that could improve people’s lives,” says Allen. They worked for 2½ years to develop the mug. “It was a scientific and creative process,” says Diana. First they tested it out at senior living centers and were told by staff that because the mug was so comfortable to hold, the residents were drinking more liquid and staying more hydrated. They found similar results with children. “We love the idea we’re a small company that can have an impact on people,” says Allen. The Jamber mug, with it’s color sweeps of blue, turquoise, and red, has a cool, modern look and is also just fun to hold to savor a cup of coffee or tea ($25 for a set of 2). For Diana, using the mug is analogous to running a race in flip-flops and then putting on a pair of Nike Airs. “Jamber is the Nike Air of coffee cups,” she says. Available at