The days of paper cups and plastic straws are, if not entirely behind us, certainly not what they used to be. I know when I walk into any coffee shop, I’m bound to see at least a handful of people asking for their morning brew to be poured into their own reusable vessel instead of something disposable. And trust me: Baristas are more than happy to oblige. Every single one of the pros I talked to for this story said that not only are ceramic, glass, and stainless-steel options better for the environment, they actually make your coffee taste better than paper or plastic (same goes for tea). Most important, though, they keep your drink hot or cold for longer.
All of the travel mugs on this list have temperature retention for at least a few hours, if not longer, with the exception of two, which I’ve noted and explained. While all of them work well, if you’re going to invest in this long-term good habit, you want to find the one that best fits your coffee habits and, of course, aesthetic preference. Read on to help determine which reusable cup, mug, or tumbler is best for you.
What we’re looking for
Size: Most of these travel mugs come in various sizes, but that’s naturally an important feature to pay attention to when buying. Eight or 12 ounces is on the smaller side, both good for standard cappuccinos or cortados or if you don’t consume that much coffee or tea. Twenty ounces is pretty big — useful if you’re going to be toting your drink around all day without the chance for refills. And then, of course, 16 ounces is somewhere in between.
Lid type: The type of lid on your travel mug can make a fairly big difference in how you experience drinking. Some have bigger openings, some smaller. Some snap shut; others twist open and close. This can come down to personal preference — meaning the literal mouthfeel of each one. It’s also important to consider when and how you’ll be using your travel mug, whether that’s commuting by train or car, sitting at a desk, or running errands around your neighborhood.
How to clean: Some travel mugs on this list are dishwasher safe; others need to be cleaned by hand. Take note if that’s an important factor for you.
The MiiR Flip Travel tumbler is “super-sleek, retains heat and cold really well, and never leaks,” says Allie Caran, product manager at Barista Valet in New York City. The lid screws on tight with a small piece that flips up when you take a sip then locks back in when you’re done. Multiple other experts echo her praise. Jerad Morrison, co-founder and co-CEO of Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco, explains that the temperature retention is thanks to the double-walled interior, which also means it’s never too hot or too cold to the touch. “It’s stainless steel, so it washes really easily,” he adds, “and doesn’t hold on to any flavors.” Will Pratt, founder and owner of Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, Maine, agrees that its material makes it a breeze to clean — and says if you have one, you can even just throw it in the dishwasher. “Coffee has sticky oils that leave residue, and there’s nothing worse than a mug that holds that flavor over time,” he says. The final bonus, Morisson says, is it fits into cup holders in both cars and bikes, which “is not always the case.”
Reusable Coffee Cup
KeepCup was also mentioned by many of our experts. The small glass vessels were originally designed by two former baristas in Melbourne, Australia, making it easier for people like Joanna Lareau, coffee manager at Stumptown,to do their jobs. “I like KeepCups because they’re made for baristas to pour into, so they’re the easiest for us to make latte art in,” she says. She also notes that, because of their small size, they’re easier to use when making cortados or cappuccinos. “Some reusable cups are so big they don’t fit into the espresso machine,” she says. Samya Said, former barista-training manager at Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, likes that they’re made with an inner slope, which she says “allows baristas to pour amazing art every time.” The lid here functions pretty much the same as the MiiR, which means you can sip from the hole or take the whole thing off if that’s how you prefer to enjoy a cappuccino. One note: The glass body means that there’s not as much heat retention going on as some of the others. For Ryan Fisher, director of coffee and roasting at GoodBoyBob Coffee in Santa Monica, California, that’s actually a benefit instead of a problem: The glass gets his coffee to the exact temperature he likes quickly.
Fellow is generally a favorite brand among industry folks. As with all their products, the travel mug has a streamlined look. Even though you can’t throw it in the dishwasher, Morrison says the stainless-steel interior makes it easy to clean. And it retains hot and cold temperatures with the best of them. But the coolest feature of all? “There’s a small guard insert at the top,” Morrison says, “so if you’re drinking iced coffee, the cubes don’t fall back onto your face when you get toward the bottom.”
The Zojirushi comes with a lot of the same perks as many others: fantastic temperature control and a slim, sleek, and lightweight body. But according to tea consultant Sara Shacket, its most impressive quality is that it’s the most airtight one she’s ever owned. “It really doesn’t leak,” she says. “I’ve used it during many commutes on the subway, thrown in my bag, and was never worried. Same if I was hiking on a trip. It could be upside down and it wouldn’t leak.” View on Amazon
Recommended by multiple experts, MiiR also makes a sweet travel mug that mimics an actual handled mug. Em Orendorff, former manager at Intelligentsia Coffee, likes it because “it’s shaped just like the mugs we use in the café (short and wide with a great handle), so it’s a breeze for baristas to make your drink in it as well as easy to clean and to drink out of.” Caleb Chauncey, former barista at East Pole Coffee Co. in Atlanta, likes that its insulated interior keeps drinks warm or cold for long periods of time, and it keeps a consistent temperature on the outside too. “It won’t burn your hand if you have a hot beverage inside, and it won’t sweat when you have a cold one,” he says. To me, it seems like the perfect camping companion. It’s also worth noting that it comes in the largest range of sizes of any of the mugs we’ve listed.
Hydration on the go
They're pretty much the perfect pair: our 21 oz (621 ml) Standard Mouth Bottle and our insulated Sport Cap. Together, they're your go-anywhere hydration companion. It stashes easily in a small shoulder bag, your pack’s side pocket or your car cup holder, and holds enough to keep you going for hours without weighing you down.
Kinto’s travel mug has a very small but always open sip hole, which means it’s best suited for when you’re sitting at a desk or on a walk holding the tumbler in your hand. This means your drink will stay hot for about an hour and cold for several hours — but it’s not going to retain its temperature all day long. That said, it’s still a favorite of a couple of our experts. For Haley Boyd, a designer and sustainability enthusiast, this is mostly because of the aesthetic. “It’s an attractive, simple shape in a solid color without a huge logo, which is surprisingly hard to find,” she says. But for Noah McKeown, general manager at Go Get Em Tiger in Los Angeles, who uses his nearly every day, it’s more than just looks. “I like the small-hole sip lid,” he says. “I think the flow-out of it is really nice. It never spills, but you still get a lot of the coffee aromatics out of it.”
Frank green Ceramic Reusable Cup with Push Button Lid
Not only does this ceramic-lined mug hit the mark on functionality, it also allows you to customize way beyond size. First, you can choose the lid type you want: one with a button release or one with a built-in straw. Then, you can design it so the entire thing is monochrome — you get to choose from a bunch of very pretty, muted colors — or so the body, lid, and button are all different colors. It’s quite fun to play around with.
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