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Travel mug sizes: are they important?

A relaxing cup of joe at your kitchen counter might be the best way to drink your coffee. But we don’t always have the time. If you’re going to be on the move all day, you can avoid the risk of lousy coffee by making your own and taking it with you. And for this, you’ll need a good travel mug.

If you’re brewing in bulk, you’ll need a bigger container than your average cup. So, what are your options?

Travel mug size

To find a great travel mug, you must first think of the size. You’ll notice that the travel mug sizes available are much bigger than most types of cups (unless you’re a regular at Starbucks). The idea is that you’re using these not only to transport your coffee but to have access to multiple servings over several hours. But larger is not necessarily better. 

There’s no point in a 24-oz travel mug if it doesn’t keep that much coffee hot.

The most common sizes of travel mug are 12, 16, and 20 oz, but you can find as small as 6 oz and as large as 24 oz. Some brands will only be available in a single size, but most offer 2-3 options. When choosing your size, you might also consider how you’ll be using it. Do you want a slimmer mug to go in a handbag, or maybe something wider for a snug fit in your car’s cup holder?

If you’re not planning on going anywhere, here are some inventive ways to keep your cup of joe hot at home.

Barista standard sizes

Travel mugs aren’t just useful for traveling. 

They’re a great way to avoid the waste of single-use coffee cups when buying coffee on your way to work. Things like insulation might not matter as much here, but size does. If you want to make things easier on the guy or gal that makes your latte, look for something that matches the standard takeaway coffee cup size. This way, you’ll be getting the same ratio that you’re used to.

travel mug sizes: barista standard cup sizes
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Other things to consider

Size is important, but it’s not the only thing you should be looking at – not by a long shot. The functionality of your travel mug will probably have the biggest impact on how satisfied you are with your purchases. Notably, the following three things:

Material

The material in your mug isn’t just about aesthetics. The most common mugs you’ll find are made from stainless steel, glass, or plastic. However, you might also see silicone, ceramic, and even bamboo. Each has its pros and cons. Different materials retain heat better, some are dishwasher safe, and some are, of course, much cheaper. Glass and ceramic are more prone to breaking, and hard plastic can tend to absorb smells.

Insulation

The most effective form of keeping your drinks hot (or cold) is with vacuum insulation. This works by creating a mug with two stainless steel walls with a gap between them. The air in this space is removed to create a vacuum, preventing heat from moving between the two walls. You can find foam insulation in some plastic travel mugs (1). Mugs made from ceramic or glass will rely only on the heat retention properties of the material itself.

Lid type

Getting the lid type right can mean the difference between a mug that’s spill-proof and one that’s leak-proof. The latter won’t allow any liquid to come out unless the lid is open.

Mugs labeled as spill-proof only prevent major spills from occurring; they are not safe to store in bags since they can still leak.

A water-tight lid won’t just help you avoid leaks; it also helps to prevent additional heat loss through the top. 

Final thoughts

Getting a size that suits the amount of coffee you plan to drink will help your brew stay hotter for longer. But of course, don’t forget to consider the factors like material, insulation, and lid closure.

FAQs

The best way to clean a travel mug is according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you’re lucky, your mug will be dishwasher safe, while others need to be washed by hand. You can give it a good clean with either baking soda or vinegar (2).

Mugs with stainless steel vacuum insulation tend to stay warm the longest. If you need some recommendations, check out some of our favorite travel mugs like these.

Most Keurigs fit a travel mug, provided that they have a removable drip tray. However, you’ll need to know the height of your travel mug, rather than the capacity, if you want to be sure that it will fit.

  1. Faulds, Z. (2020, October 23). Best insulated coffee Mugs (REVIEW & Buying Guide) 2020. Retrieved from https://www.thedrive.com/reviews/34020/insulated-coffee-mug-2
  2. Milligan, C. (2019, February 15). Your travel mug could be making you sick! Retrieved from https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-clean-your-travel-mug-and-why-you-should/
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I come from a country where people drink domestic coffee (what the rest of the world knows as Turkish coffee) and where Nescafe designates all instant coffees ever made. So, imagine my first encounter with, say, Hario V60...Yes, it was love at first sight.  Today I’m a moderate coffee connoisseur and a huge coffee lover. My favorite brewing methods are the V60 and traditional espresso-making. Yet, despite my country’s long tradition of Turkish-coffee-adoring, I somehow cannot stand it. That’s just too dark, even for me.

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