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The Best Travel Mug (For Coffee)

IMAGEPRODUCTFEATURES
hg-table__imageStanley Classic One Hand Travel Mug
  • Retains heat very well
  • Leak-proof lid
  • You can use one hand to drink from it
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hg-table__imageContigo Autoseal West Loop Mug
  • Leak-proof, easy-clean lid design
  • Designed to suit all kinds of commutes
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hg-table__imageCamelbak Forge
  • Excellent lid design
  • Good insulation
  • Impact cap means you don't need to worry about breaking it on the go
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hg-table__imageContigo SnapSeal Baron
  • Well-engineered design
  • Good insulation
  • Affordable
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hg-table__imageKeepCup Glass
  • Glass looks good
  • Microwaveable
  • Recyclable
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hg-table__imageZojirushi SM-SA60-BA
  • Smart design and features
  • Good heat insulation
  • Spill-proof lid
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hg-table__imageEllo Campy Mug
  • Classic outdoors look
  • Leakproof travel lid
  • Keeps coffee hot up to 5 hours
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hg-table__imageEspro Travel Coffee Press
  • Brew and travel in one mug
  • Leakproof cap
  • Keeps coffee hot 4-6 hours
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1. Stanley Classic One Hand Travel Mug

"Best for hiking and the outdoors"

Stanley Travel Mug

The Stanley Classic One Hand Travel Mug is a reliable option for the more outdoorsy type. It's constructed from double-walled stainless steel and topped with a thermal lid. It can keep your coffee hot for hours, making it perfect for long hikes.

This heat-insulating mug resembles the full-size Stanley Classic thermoses but is more portable. The largest size is 20 ounces, which should just about satisfy even the thirstiest coffee drinkers. The larger the size, the better the heat insulation is as well - the 20oz mug promises to keep your drink hot for 9 hours, while the smallest 12oz version retains heat for a relatively modest 4.5 hours.

Because the Stanley Classic travel mug has a leak-proof lid, you can put it in your backpack without worrying about ruining your change of clothes.It’s also good for driving, as you only need one hand to drink from it.

PROS

  • Retains heat very well
  • Leak-proof lid
  • You can use one hand to drink from it

CONS

  • The smallest sizes don’t retain heat as well
  • The lack of a handle might make it awkward to hold

Specifications:

  • Volume: 16 oz.
  • Construction: double-wall 18/8 stainless steel
  • Keeps hot for: 6 hours
  • Lid type: screw-in, press to drink

2. Contigo Autoseal West Loop

"Best for commuters"

Contigo Coffee Mug

The Contigo Autoseal West Loop is a sleek mug that can brighten any morning commute, no matter what your mode of transport may be. Constructed with insulated stainless steel, the Contigo West Loop can keep your coffee hot for up to 7 hours.

The main attraction of this stainless steel portable mug, though, is its lid design. You can’t get much better than this: the West Loop has a spill-proof and easy-clean lid. The lid seals automatically once closed, and the mug can easily be kept in your bag - letting it double as a water bottle for trips to the gym. It can be opened completely for cleaning and is machine-washable. It's designed to fit the average car's cup holder. Because you only need one hand to open the lid, it’s a good choice for drivers as well.

PROS

  • Leak-proof, easy-clean lid design
  • Keeps your coffee hot for hours
  • Designed to suit all kinds of commutes

CONS

  • Easy to burn yourself if you overfill the mug or don’t wait for the coffee to cool
  • Exterior paint gets easily scratched

Specifications:

  • Volume: 16 oz.
  • Construction: Vacuum-insulated stainless steel
  • Keeps hot for: 5 hours
  • Lid type: Auto-lock/push button
  • Special feature: Completely machine washable

3. The CamelBak Forge

"Best for cyclists and motorbike riders"

CamelBak Forge

The CamelBak Forge travel mug is a great option for cyclists. Made from double-walled stainless steel, it is vacuum-sealed and will keep your drink hot for hours. At 16 ounces, the Forge is quite small and has a finger carry loop, which makes it easy to carry on bike trips.

The Forge has a well-engineered lid which is easy to open with one hand. After use, it can be removed and washed in the dishwasher. It also has an “impact cap” on the bottom preventing damage if you drop the mug, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it on the move. A great way to transport coffee, fast.

PROS

  • Excellent lid design
  • Good insulation
  • Impact cap means you don’t need to worry about breaking it on the go

CONS

  • Expensive for its size
  • Lid has a narrow opening which only allows for small sips

Specifications:

  • Volume: 16 oz.
  • Construction: 18/8 stainless steel
  • Keeps hot for: 6 hours
  • Lid type: Leak-proof closure
  • Special feature: One-handed, self-sealing drink opening

4. Contigo SnapSeal Byron

"Best budget travel mug"

Contigo SnapSeal

The Contigo SnapSeal Byron is basically a more affordable alternative to the West Loop (although it has most of the same features). With a leak-proof lid and Thermalock vacuum insulation which promises to keep your coffee hot for 7 hours. It's a steal for its price.

All-in-All: The Snapseal is a decent mug with an attractive price and a lifetime warranty.

PROS

  • Well-engineered design
  • Good insulation
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Lid is not as spill-proof as West Loop’s
  • Lid can be awkward to drink from

Specifications:

  • Volume: 24 oz.
  • Construction: Stainless double-wall
  • Keeps hot for: 6 hours
  • Lid type: One-piece screw type
  • Special feature: Lid dishwasher-safe, cup handwash

5. The Kee​​pCup

"For the trendsetters"

KeepCup Travel Mug

Glass coffee cups are all the rage now, and you can be on-trend with this KeepCup travel mug. Although it might intuitively seem that glass and travel mugs don’t mix well, the portable KeepCup features a holding grip made of cork.

The KeepCup is constructed with tempered soda-lime glass, which is an environmentally friendly option as it is easily recyclable. The lid is made from BPA-free plastic and is splash-proof. The KeepCup was designed to reduce waste from takeaway mugs. It’s a barista standard coffee cup, with the target demographic being people who regularly get their caffeine fix from a café.

PROS

  • Glass looks good
    Recyclable
    Microwaveable

CONS

  • Not the most durable mug
    Heat insulation is lower than many competitors

Specifications:

  • Volume: 16 oz.
  • Construction: Tempered soda-lime glass
  • Keeps hot for: Less than 1 hour
  • Lid type: Press-fit BPA-free polypropylene
  • Special feature: Microwave-safe

6. The Zojirushi SM-SA60-BA Stainless Steel Mug

"Best for the multitaskers"

Zojirushi Travel Mug

The Zojirushi SM-SA60-BA is a good all-rounder that will satisfy the most discerning users. It is available in three different sizes and a variety of colors, all of which have the same features. It has the standard spill-proof lid, meaning you can carry it in your bag safely, and it's usable with one hand.

Heat insulation is good enough for even the lengthiest commutes - your coffee will stay hot for hours.

The 1-inch lid opening is larger than in many other travel mugs, meaning it’s more convenient to pour if you want to drink from your own mug. Constructed from non-stick Teflon on the inside, the Zojirushi is easy to clean. The stopper lid, made from BPA-free plastic, is also completely removable.

While it may be on the expensive side, the five-year warranty speaks to its durability.

PROS

  • Beautifully designed
  • Good heat insulation
  • Spill-proof lid

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Not dishwasher-safe

Specifications:

  • Volume: 12, 16, or 20 oz.
  • Construction: BPA-free plastic/stainless, non-stick interior
  • Keeps hot for: 6 hours
  • Lid type: Flip-open; disassembles for cleaning
  • Special feature: Safety-lock lid prevents accidental opening

Ello Campy Travel Mug

The Ello Campy has the nostalgic vibe of old-school speckled camping gear with a cork-lined handle (Some of us never got over the trauma of burning our fingers on a steel mug full of hot coffee.) It will keep your coffee hot for up to 5 hours, and cold beverages stay cold for up to 10. It looks more like a large coffee mug however, which is cool.

The spill-proof slider lid allows you to carry it in your bag without worrying about spills. But due to the lid design, it is great if you keep it in your backpack or briefcase, not so good for slurping in the car or train.

At 3” across, the wide-mouthed Campy is easy to get your hand or brush inside for cleaning, but it can be a tight fit in smaller car cup holders. Hand-washing is recommended for the tumbler; the lid is dishwasher-safe.

If you have fond memories of cooking out with vintage enameled pots, pans, and dishes, the Campy will make you smile. Now if it only came with the smell of a campfire...

PROS

  • Charming campground style
  • Good heat insulation
  • Spill-proof lid

CONS

  • Tight seal (no air release hole) makes sipping a challenge
  • Tumbler requires hand-washing (lid is dishwasher-safe)

Specifications:

  • Volume: 18 oz.
  • Construction: Double-wall stainless
  • Keeps hot for: 5 hours
  • Lid type: Spill-proof screw on, sliding drink port
  • Special feature: Hand-wash tumbler; lid dishwasher-safe

8. Espro Travel Coffee Press

"Best for those who want to brew at the same time"

Espro Travel Press

We confess - the ability to brew a fresh pot of French press and take it with us is something we’ve come to love over the years. The Espro Coffee Travel Press does this, and more. Triple stainless insulation ensures the Espro will keep your coffee hot for 4 to 6 hours.

The Espro has double micro-filters in the plunger. Each is 9 to 12 times finer than the average French press, which works better for trapping fine sediment. If that isn’t enough, the Espro’s Paper Filter Press Coffee method gives you the option of brewing a cup with the clean taste of pour over coffee. Slip a paper filter between the double micro-filters before you press, and the oils and sediment will be trapped. This thing essentially works like a cross between a french press and Aeropress.

And finally, the manufacturer has instructions on how to use the Espro to make cold brew. The only thing it can’t do is drink your coffee for you. 

PROS

  • Brew and carry in one container
  • Good heat insulation (4-6 hours for hot beverages)
  • Spill-proof, screw-on lid prevents leaks

CONS

  • Lid unscrews (not slides) to drink on-the-go
  • As with all French press coffee makers, filter cleaning can be a chore
  • Paper filters are only available from the manufacturer

Specifications:

  • Volume: 10 oz. brew, 15 oz. total
  • Construction: Double-wall vacuum stainless
  • Keeps hot for: 4-6 hours
  • Lid type: Removable screw-type
  • Special feature: Filters dishwasher-safe in top rack; hand wash travel tumbler

How To Choose A Good Travel Coffee Mug

A good coffee mug can really brighten up your day. It’s a small luxury to be able to brew coffee just the way you like it and enjoy it on the go. In the long run, it’s also a lot more affordable than regularly getting takeaway, and better for the environment.

Consider a few key factors when choosing between the different types:

Tips for buying the best portable coffee mug

It must have excellent heat retention

Good insulation is a key asset in a travel mug. Like a good thermos, a well-constructed mug can keep your coffee hot for hours, while a flimsy cup will struggle even on shorter commutes. Many good travel mugs utilize the same working principles as full-size thermoses, including double-wall vacuum insulation (1, 2) (read more about how that works here)

A thermos has two walls with an air vacuum between them. Since a vacuum does not conduct heat, there is no path for heat or cold to travel to the inner wall.

But not everyone needs extremely high heat retention. If you just want a travel cup for a short commute or a Sunday picnic, there’s no reason to invest in an expensive double-wall thermos.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Consider your personal needs and preferences when making the choice.

It must be 100% leak/spill-proof

Non-negotiable. It needs a flip lid for easy sipping on the go, but it needs to be 100% leak-proof. Some of the cheaper options are not spill-proof, meaning you cannot carry them in your bag.

The anti-leak mugs are often designed like mini-thermos bottles, with a screw top or similar. While you might need both hands to drink, you don’t need to carry them upright at all times. The choice depends on your style of travel.

I kept being asked to review the Hydro Flask, but it didn't make the cut for 2 reasons: poor heat retention (less than 4 hours) and the lid will not lock, meaning you may spill coffee everywhere (even pointed out by the companies website). Not a good travel mug then, is it?

KEY TAKEAWAY: Weigh the convenience of drinking on-the-go against the need for spill and leak prevention.

What size is right for you?

How much coffee do you need to get you going in the morning? If you’re the type to brew a whole pot of coffee and guzzle it down before noon, you’re probably going to be frustrated with a tiny travel cup. The Yeti Rambler, for example, is a huge mug, but not suited for travel (so you will see it in our coffee mugs article, not this one).

On the other hand, if you like sipping more modest amounts of coffee, a large thermos will be inconvenient to carry.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Look for the “sweet spot” in size and volume.

How easy is it to clean?

It’s often difficult to get travel mugs completely clean, but you don't want to just throw it away because of old coffee stains or smells. If you use your travel mug regularly, it might be a good idea to get a mug made from material that doesn’t stain easily. Machine-washability can also be a plus.

A high-quality stainless steel mug should have a highly polished surface that can be easily cleaned to prevent permanent staining.

You can check to see that the stainless steel used is at least a 304 grade (18% chromium and 8% nickel). Beyond the chemical composition, the degree of polish will determine how stain-resistant it will be and how easy it will be to clean.

KEY TAKEAWAY: If you plan to use it daily, get one that is easy to clean.

Will it last the distance?

If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll want a travel mug that’s able to take a few bumps. Materials like plastic might lose their ability to retain heat if their surface gets scratched or wears out.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Buy something suited for the stresses of your travel or commute.

How does it affect the taste of your coffee?

Lastly - don’t ignore taste. Yes - the material of your mug CAN affect the perceived taste of your brew. The color of your mug can influence the way your coffee tastes. But it’s all about perception. A study by Van Doorn, et al. (BioMed Central 2014) support the view that the color of the mug can influence the consumer’s multisensory coffee drinking experience (3). The research team wanted to find out whether the coffee drinkers’ perception would be influenced by the color of the mug (transparent, white or blue) from which it was served. 


THE VERDICT: What’s The Best Travel Mug?

All of the travel mugs included on this list are solid options - the final choice depends on your personal preferences. However, considering both features and affordability, the Contigo Autoseal West Loop is the best portable coffee mug for most users.

Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug

The West Loop’s closest competition is the Zojirushi SM-SA60, which loses points for its high price tag.

For those looking for the most affordable option, the Contigo SnapSeal Byron is also a decent option, but keep in mind that the lid design is not as good as the West Loop’s.

FAQs

What is the best mug to keep coffee hot?

The best coffee mug to keep hot is a coffee thermos. These are leak-proof and made from stainless steel double vacuum insulation, and hence will keep your coffee hot for hours.

What is the best material for a coffee mug?

The best material for your coffee mug depends on your preferences. Each material has pros and cons that you should consider. While ceramic or glass are ideal for home use; steel or plastic for travelers. Hard plastics are often used to make recyclable coffee cups for their superb heat retention and durability, but the material might give your coffee an unpleasant smell or aftertaste. Steel is mostly used in travel mugs and thermos. It holds heat extremely well and relatively unbreakable.

What is a good travel coffee mug?

A good travel coffee mug has good insulation, is leak/spill-proof, durable, and easy to clean. It should also be made from materials that can easily be handled and not cause burns. 

Do ceramic travel mugs keep coffee hot?

Yes, Ceramic travel mugs keep coffee hot. Ceramic mugs will retain heat and can be pre-warmed, creating a stable temperature. If you are a stainless steel-averse commuter, a ceramic travel mug is your best bet.


References

  1. Andal, J. (2019, January 09). How a Thermos Works - Physics of Heat Transfer. Retrieved June 9, 2019, from https://futurism.com/physics-thermos-heat-transfer
  2. Does a double walled glass mug really keep the liquid warm? (2012, October 17). Retrieved June 9, 2019, from https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/27868/does-a-double-walled-glass-mug-really-keep-the-liquid-warm
  3. Doorn, G., Dianne Wuillemin, & Charles Spence. (2014, November 25). Does the colour of the mug influence the taste of the coffee? Retrieved June 15, 2019, from https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2044-7248-3-10
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Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.