Best travel mugs for keeping your coffee or cuppa hot while you’re on the go

Bringing a reusable travel mug to the coffee shop isn’t just the sensible eco choice – it could save you money, too.

There’s nothing quite like a soothing cup of tea or a hit of caffeine while you’re out and about but there are growing concerns about how eco-friendly takeaway cups are. The interior coating of plastic on cardboard cups means they’re not easily recyclable, while many of them are single use paper, meaning hundreds of trees can be felled to create a product that is used for the few minutes it takes the drink the contents. In the UK alone billions of single use takeaway cups go landfill each year.

A recent government report encouraged the use of reusable coffee cups and called on businesses to do more to ensure that the hard-to-recycle cups are phased out to be replaced with ones that are eco-friendly. This in turn has resulted in a growing market for reusable travel mugs, from relatively cheap reusable coffee cups made from eco-friendly bamboo to thermos cups and even ceramic travel mugs.

Whichever of the eco coffee cup alternative you can choose, it’ll end up paying for itself if you’re a big takeaway fan as many coffee shops and cafes are now rewarding customers who want to take their own travel mug with them with discounted drinks.

How we selected and tested the best travel mugs

We tested a number of reusable cups to find the best travel mugs for your needs. We looked at a variety materials, from glass and ceramic to bamboo and steel, and tested different sizes and weights, plus reviewed how heavy each cup was to fill and carry, whether it was insulating, how pleasant it was to drink from and how easy to clean to ensure we found a cup to suit everyone.

Overall best travel mug 2019: w&h’s verdict

W&H’s best buy: Stanley Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug Mug, £32.99

For sheer durability, our best travel mug was the vacuum mug by Stanley, as even when dropped, it will instantly close to keep drink from spilling. It’s at the pricey end of the scale, but will last you years, possibly decades if well looked after.

best travel mug

SHOP NOW: Stanley Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug, £32.99, Amazon

W&H’s star buy: Smidge travel cup, £13.99

Our favourite coffee cup-style reusable cup was the Smidge as it had the look of a traditional cup with all the leak-proof, keep-warm benefits of a vacuum flask. At less than £15 it’s brilliant value too, hence it being our star buy in our best travel mug edit.

 

best travel mug

SHOP NOW: Smidge Travel Cup, £13.99, from Amazon

The best travel mugs you can buy

Here are the ten best travel mugs you can buy, including full detailed reviews of each.

If you want a large capacity cup head to numbers 2 and 9, both of which are the largest travel mugs to make our edit at 16ozs each. If being lightweight is more important to you then number 10 will be of interest, which at only 143g, feels like a feather in the hand and yet is still a full size cup. Compact more crucial? Then entry 8 is for you. It made the best travel mug edit because of it’s ingenious collapsible design.

1. Travel Mug, Tefal, £20, Best stainless steel travel mug

best takeaway cups

This 360ml – or 120z – travel mug is more of a flask than a cup but is pretty easy and comfortable to sip from nonetheless. It claims to be completely leak-proof and it certainly kept its contents to itself when we took it for a walk stashed carelessly away in a bag. While it was our second heaviest cup, unfilled it was 386g, it holds a lot, meaning you get more coffee bang for your buck. As with other thermos flasks, the keep-warm facility is helped by rinsing it with warm water – or cold if you want to keep your drink cool – before it’s filled. It’ll keep coffee or tea drinkable for at least four hours and will keep water or soft drinks cold for up to eight hours. The top unscrews to reveal a wide mouth that means it’s easy to fill, then simply screw the lid back on and off you go. When you want to drink you just push down the central button. It comes in stylish black or bold red and has a silicone outer that provided a secure grip. It’s also dishwasher safe, which means cleaning is a doddle and there’s a Grande version for those who like to go even larger.

Weight: 386g

Capacity: 12oz or 360ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 4 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Tefal Travel Mug, £20, from John Lewis.

2. Stainless King travel mug, Thermos, £23.27, Best travel mug with a handle

best takeaway cups

You’ll never have a problem getting to grips with this 470ml cup as, unlike many we tested, it had a solid handle by which to grasp it. Coming in several colours including on-trend Copper, a bold Red and Midnight Blue, it looks stylish, too. It also promises to keep hot drinks that way for up to eight hours, the longest of all the double-walled insulating mugs we tried. It feels comfortable in the hand and it’s a quick turn to open and pleasant to drink from, particularly on the go. Do be aware, though, that as with other double-walled mugs, once they are closed they keep the drink hot – we mean really, really hot – so be careful not to burn your mouth. It’s leak-proof, too, so the inside of our bag wasn’t troubled by hot coffee spilling out, even when we were forced, rather ungainly, to run for the train. For tea lovers, it also features a clever tea-bag hook in the lid, so you never have to dig it out with your fingers. While it is the heaviest of the mugs we tried, coming in at 531g unfilled, we felt it was worth the extra weight for how long it kept our drink hot.

Weight: 531g

Capacity: 16oz or 470ml

Dishwasher safe: no

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Thermos Stainless King travel mug, £23.27, from Amazon

3. Travel Cup, Smidge, £13.99, Best leak proof travel mug

best takeaway cups

This might look like a traditional reusable cup but, unlike most others, the makers claim it’s 100% leak-proof. While the mug, which comes in a range of bold shades is, actually fairly light compared to some, it does have a double wall thermal inner that keeps drinks hot – or cold – for several hours. A nice touch is measurements marked on the inside of the cup to show your barista where to fill for your favourite eight or 12oz brew. Made from 18/10 stainless steel it weighs just 268g unfilled and features a screw-on lid with a silicone seal that, despite us trying quite hard, helped this cup live up to its maker’s boasts of it being totally leak-proof. We rather nervously popped it in our bag in the morning but needn’t have worried as the bag was as dry as a bone when we got home later that day. The contents stayed hot for a long time, too and several hours after we’d filled it, it was still warm enough for it to be pleasant to drink.

Weight: 268g

Capacity: 12oz or 355ml

Dishwasher safe: no

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Smidge Travel Cup, £13.99, from Amazon

4. Vacuum Travel Press, Bodum, £23.99, Best travel mug for fresh coffee lovers

best takeaway cups

While this 12oz insulated travel flask only admits to being spill-proof rather than leak-proof, and should be always carried upright, it does have a few other things going for it that we think make it a good investment for a freshly brewed coffee lover. Firstly, it’s not just any old drinks cup. Oh no, this one has a filter piston that essentially turns the flask into a cafetiere – or teapot depending on your taste – meaning you don’t even have to buy fresh coffee while you’re out, let alone single-use cups. It also comes with an extra lid, which we found handy once we’d finished our hot drink and wanted to fill the flask with water for the journey home. Both spouts are pleasant to drink from but do be aware if black coffee is your tipple because, as we found out to our cost, it stays searing hot for quite some time and was still hot to drink several hours after we first made it. It’s dishwasher safe on the top rack and there are several colours of top and silicone outer to choose from.

Weight: 563g

Capacity: 12oz or 350ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 4 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Bodum Vacuum Travel Press, £23.99, from John Lewis

5. Reusable 12oz Glass Coffee Cup, KeepCup, £15, Best glass coffee cup

best takeaway cups

Available in many colours, sizes and materials, the KeepCup is the world’s first barista-standard reusable cup, fitting under coffee machines making it ideal for coffee-lovers on the go. Environmentally friendly, the one we tested is made from durable, toughened soda lime glass and BPA-free and BPS-free plastic. The cup, lid and lid plug are all recyclable at the end of the product’s life. We liked the simple look of the black and glass combo and it’s pleasant to drink from both the plastic lid, or if you prefer, from the glass itself. All the parts are dishwasher safe if put on the top rack. While it doesn’t claim to be leak proof – and it isn’t – we did tip it over a couple of times and when the flip mechanism plug is closed it seems to make it fairly spill-proof, ensuring you don’t end up with coffee all over your desk if you accidentally knock it over.

Weight: 260g

Capacity: 12oz or 340ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 4 out of 5

SHOP NOW: KeepCup Reusable 12oz Glass Coffee Cup, £15, from John Lewis

6. Kenzai Cup, Yum Asia, £9.90, Best travel mug made from bamboo

best takeaway cups

It might not be the best looking of the reusable cups we tried but this light – 220g unfilled – 100% organic, 14oz reusable mug is made from one of the world’s most sustainable resources – natural bamboo fibre. While there are quite a few bamboo mugs available, we particularly liked this one’s bamboo screw, rather than push-on silicone, lid. This meant there were fewer spills and makes almost the whole thing, apart from the silicone sleeve and stopper, biodegradable. So, after a few years you can just add it to your compost heap! It did drip a very small amount from the spout seal after giving it a vigourous shake, so we probably wouldn’t trust it in our bag, but in testing we found it was much less leaky than some others.

Weight: 220g

Capacity: 14oz or 400ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Yum Asia Kenzai Cup, £9.90 at Amazon

7. Hand-thrown travel cup, Libby Ballard Ceramics, £28, Best travel mug made from ceramics

best takeaway cups

If you want to replace single-use cups when you’re travelling but prefer something more traditional, then a handmade ceramic cup is a good choice. The tightly fitting silicone lid of this hand-crafted tumbler creates a good seal, making sure that, as long as the cup is kept upright, it’s pretty spill proof. Because it’s handmade, the colours and shapes of this 400ml (about 14oz) cup will vary a touch but we think that simply adds to its beauty. While it’s not the lightest we tested at 340g it’s not the heaviest either and it does look good and is very pleasant to drink from, whether you’re travelling or sitting at your desk. We loved the pretty thick cotton fabric band that sits over a silicone ring to prevent your hand from burning, and each cup comes with a choice of band colours and a grey silicone lid. Being ceramic, it’s completely dishwasher safe, just like any other cup, although remember to take of the material grip first.

Weight: 340g

Capacity: 14oz or 400ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Libby Ballard Ceramics Hand-thrown travel cup, £28, notonthehighstreet.com

8. Collapsible mug, £9.99, Stojo, Best travel mug that is collapsible

best takeaway cups

best takeaway cups

For those that want to grab a coffee and go but worry about having to carry something bulky around in their bag all day, this 12oz collapsible mug is a great buy. The cup itself is made from recyclable food grade silicone, while the lid collar and heat sleeve are made from BPA-free polypropylene plastic. Available in a wide range of colours (we loved the hot pink) it’s super light but still feels sturdy unlike some other collapsible cups and it’s very pleasant to drink from. The stopper is easy to pop out one-handed, which is great if you’re walking about or on your phone. Once you’ve finished, simply remove the heat sleeve and open the stopper and collapse it up into a 5cm deep ring. The clever design means the heat sleeve simply slots in at the base, creating such a small package that you can simply pop it into your bag or even in a pocket. It’s the lightest we tried, too at just 142g unfilled. Remember though to fit the stopper back in place to prevent any drink residue in the cup dribbling out.

Weight: 142g

Capacity: 12oz or 355ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 4 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Stojo Collapsible Mug, £9.99, at Amazon

9. Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug Mug, Stanley, £32.99 Best insulated travel mug

best takeaway cups

Stanley has been making vacuum flasks for more than 100 years and has pretty much perfected the art of travel cups with this insulated steel mug, available in two sizes, 350ml and 470ml. The easy-as-you-like, leak-proof press release lid is designed so that you can hold the mug and open it to drink from and then swiftly close it with the same hand, great for multi-taskers or hikers. It also means that if you accidentally let go of it while you’re drinking, not a single drop of your precious brew will be lost. Made from 18/10 stainless steel, the 350ml/12oz model we tried keeps drinks hot, or cold, for up to 5 or 8 hours, plenty long enough for a day out in town or a hike with the dogs. It’s super tough, too, having survived conditions that include -70˚ F wind-chill, speeding bullets, 4,000ft drops and category five hurricanes – not your average jaunt to Waitrose, we’ll admit, but impressive nonetheless. The lid disassembles for cleaning and the whole thing can go in the dishwasher, too.

Weight: 358g

Capacity: 12oz or 350ml or 16oz or 470ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

SHOP NOW: Stanley Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug, £32.99, Amazon

10. Reusable Coffee Cup, DrinkPod, £11.49, Best travel mug made from plastic

best takeaway cups

Buying a plastic reusable cup might feel a bit counter productive but even if you use it for one coffee a day for a year, then it could save more than 360 cups ending up in landfill. Of course, if you’re going to use something over and over again it has to be sturdy and good-looking enough for you to be happy to carry around. The organic curved shape of the DrinkPod appealed to us, as did the variety of colourways it comes in. We opted for Autumn, a pleasing blend of oranges and greens but there are seven other themes to try including icy Winter, cool blue Ocean and moody Storm. It holds up to 12oz, perfect for a big brew and is surprisingly light, coming in at just 143g, the lightest full size up we tried. Made from BPA free plastic – research has show that bisphenol A (BPA) can seep into beverages from containers, causing some worries about the possible health issues – with a silicone grip and rotating rubber spout, it’s dishwasher safe on the top shelf, too.

Weight: 143g

Capacity: 12oz or 340ml

Dishwasher safe: yes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SHOP NOW: DrinkPod Reusable Coffee Cup,  £11.49, from Amazon

Things to consider before choosing the best travel mug for you

Which types of travel mugs suit your needs?

Reusable travel mugs and coffee cups come in a variety of sizes, shapes and materials.

The most common are steel thermos-style, bamboo, plastic with glass and ceramic also available. The one you pick will clearly depend on your needs and will differ depending on where and when you’re likely to use it.

Those needing a hit of caffeine to take them through the morning school run will not just need something that’s large enough to accommodate a 12oz skinny latte, they’ll also want to be able to fit the cup into the holder in their car and keep the drink warm enough for the duration of the trip.

If all you want is a cup to replace your normal disposable one when you visit your high-street coffee shop then a simple bamboo or plastic cup that’s similar in shape and size will probably do.

Standard coffee shop measurements are 8, 10 or 12oz so pick a cup that’s best for your preferred size. Buying a bigger one with measurements shown on the inside of the cup will help your barista serve you the right amount of coffee too without having to make it in a single-use cup first – something that pretty much defeats the point of taking your own.

What’s the difference between a travel mug and a reusable coffee cup?

A travel mug will have a leak- or spill-proof seal to ensure no liquid escapes while travelling. A reusable coffee cup will look and feel similar to a cardboard one from a coffee shop but will usually be made from recycled plastic or bamboo with a silicone lid. Some will also have a closeable drinking spout but are unlikely to be entirely leak-proof. Travel mugs are also designed to keep your drink hot – or cold – using double insulate linings, while reusable cups will keep drinks a little warmer for longer if you keep the lid on, much like a disposable cup will.

What are the best travel mug brands?

If you’re looking for an insulate travel cup then opt for models from brands such as Thermos, Bodum or Stanley as they’re all experts in the field. For a simple reusable cup, there many brands producing stylish and also eco products that will help you reduce your carbon footprint. However, if you want to go the extra mile and choose a cup that isn’t also made with plastic, we’re fans of new brand Smidge, with their biodegradable travel cups, which will break down in landfill in just two years. Cups made from bamboo are also a good choice as it’s a fast-growing sustainable plant and although the bamboo fibres are held together with resin, this is also biodegradable.

Are travel mugs dishwasher safe?

Most travel mugs and reusable coffee cups are dishwasher friendly on the top shelf, including ones made from bamboo, plastic and glass. However, ones that feature thermos linings and decorative exteriors are not recommended for use in a dishwasher as the finish will eventually come off.

Are travel mugs good for the environment?

It’s estimated that we throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups each year in the UK alone. That’s enough, according to a 2017 Government audit, to stretch around the planet five and a half times. While those cups are technically recyclable, it’s hard to separate the waterproofing plastic polyethylene from the cardboard outer, and the contaminating liquid they contain. Currently, there are only three plants in the country that can recycle this kind of waste, which means a staggering 99% of those 2.5 billion don’t actually end up being recycled at all. That’s all before you even consider that many of these cups aren’t even made from recycled cardboard to begin with, which results in huge amounts of deforestation every day to satisfy our growing need for coffee on the go. So, of course buying a reusing a cup is beneficial to the environment. If you use it instead of a single use cup just once a day, that could save more than 350 cups a year, per person. That’s not just the materials to make it but also the energy it takes to recycle or put into landfill, where plastic takeaway cups can last more than a 100 years.

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