In our search for the best travel coffee mugs, we sought options that were easy to hold and easy to drink from on the go. And here’s something crucial: A travel mug, especially one that might get thrown in a bag, should not leak. Plus, it has to actually keep coffee warm.
We tested more than 20 to find out which one truly deserves the title of “best travel coffee mug.” Keep reading for the best travel mugs available right now—and for the details of how we tested, plus our thoughts on what to look for in a travel tumbler, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Overall Best Travel Coffee Mug: Zojirushi
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Travel Coffee Mug
This Japanese-made mug retains heat incredibly well. After five hours, the liquid inside was still piping hot—almost too hot to drink, in fact. Like a heavy-duty camping thermos, it’s made of double-walled stainless steel that’s vacuum-insulated for expert heat retention. Unlike massive thermoses though, the Zojirushi has a slim design that fits perfectly in your hand or bag. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes—12 ounces, 16 ounces, 20 ounces—but all of them are narrow, unobtrusive, and easy to hold.
The Zojirushi is leak-free. The lid has a lock on the top that makes it impossible to open or spill. Shake, rattle, roll this thing—it’s not going to let any hot drinks spill. Plus, it’s stylish and sleek, which is a definite plus for a mug you’ll be carting around everywhere. The parts of its lid come apart for easy manual cleaning, and the interior is nonstick, so it’s easy to rinse.
It has two minor downsides: it’s not dishwasher-safe and the opening can be a bit awkward to drink from. No, it won’t spill or anything; it’s just a little less comfortable than the sipping mechanisms of other mugs we tried, notably the OXO and the Chantal. Still, on the more important grounds of heat retention and leak prevention, the Zojirushi wins by an absolute landslide.
The Best-Looking Travel Mugs: Ello and Kinto
Ello Campy Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle
Ello Cole Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle with Slider Lid
Ello’s two vacuum-insulated stainless steel travel mugs hold heat well, are shockingly spill-proof, and look good. The Campy mug looks like something you’d find in your grandparents’ house (in a good way), while the regular stainless steel mug is simple and white, with a built-in cork coaster at the bottom. Neither are as compact or sophisticated in design as the Zojirushi, but they’re dishwasher-safe and highly effective at keeping drinks hot and contained.
Kinto Travel Tumbler
KINTO Day Off Tumbler
The Kinto travel tumbler impressed us with its chic design and heat-retaining abilities. This is another winner from a Japanese company with an appreciation for simple, beautiful designs. It has a rounded handle on top of the lid, which was comfortable to hold, and especially nice when commuting sans bag. But, it was also leak-proof when we tossed it in a tote.
The cap is smartly constructed: The handle on the top can be removed, revealing a thin circular opening that ensures controlled sipping. Nothing pours out at an extreme rate (no scalded tongue or ice cubes in the face). You can also remove the entire top of the mug, which makes it easy to pour from, and makes the travel mug easy to clean. The Polypropylene-coated stainless steel vessels come in a variety of interesting hues, so carrying your hot coffee around is stylish in a sustainability-focused 2020 way. The Kinto mug is the priciest of the bunch, but worth it if you want to splurge on something beautiful.
Honorable Mentions: MiiR and Stojo
Stojo On-the-Go Collapsible Silicone Travel Cup
MiiR Insulated Travel Tumbler with Locking Flip Travel Lid
The MiiR Travel Tumbler got a lot of oohs and aahs during the unboxing phase of our test. It’s sleek, bright, and incredibly comfortable to hold. What the brand calls “Thermo 3D Double Wall Vacuum Insulation Technology” essentially means that latte stays very hot. The lid is secure. It’s almost too secure to open with ease. Still, we had no leaks and could confidently throw the travel tumbler into our bags. Another bonus with MiiR: when you buy a mug, the brand gifts a portion of revenue to a charity project that’s trackable via a code on the bottom of the mug.
The Stojo mug is collapsible, which comes in handy when you’ve finished your coffee and are tired of lugging around the mug (and also don’t have a massive amount of bag space). The materials this mug is made with are less luxe and stylish. And it’s hard to say how the silicone will hold up to years of use compared to a solid stainless steel option. Still, this mug really is great if you want to a model that takes up as little space pre-and post-coffee as possible. Simply push down the cup and it becomes the size of a lid. Bonus: it’s also super easy to clean.
How We Tested the Travel Coffee Mugs
We filled all of the mugs with piping hot water and let them sit on our desks for five hours. We then sipped from each to determine if they had retained heat. Next, we put the containers through a stress test, shaking them and tipping them up and down to see if anything leaked. Finally, we took some brisk walks to mimic the frantic conditions of a morning commute, coffee mug in hand. We did not preheat the mugs by filling them with hot water first—we figured the typical user would not do this and we wanted to see how well each mug retained heat without this step. We also evaluated the following factors for each travel mug.
1. Does the travel mug retain heat?
One of the most important considerations, of course, was whether the mug kept coffee hot, even after several hours. We sipped from the mug after five hours to see if the coffee was still a good drinking temperature. We lined up the mugs and tasted them side by side to see which one was the hottest.
2. Does it leak?
Making sure the mug didn’t leak was also important, given that these are meant for travel. We jostled the cups, tipped them upside down, and gave them vigorous shakes to see which ones remained leak-free.
3. Is it easy to hold and drink from?
We didn’t want a travel coffee mug that was too heavy or too big, as this would make it more difficult to carry around in transit. We considered how much you had to maneuver your mouth while drinking—we took points away from travel mugs that felt awkward when sipping.
4. Is the travel mug easy to clean?
Was each mug dishwasher safe? Was it easy to scrub manually, including the nooks and crannies of the lid?
Other Travel Coffee Mugs We Tested
We reviewed more than 20 best travel coffee mugs in various shapes and sizes that were under $50 and claimed to retain heat and prevent leaks. We wanted a stylish mug, too. After all, these mugs are an accessory as much as a tool.
People love and swear by OXO travel mugs, and we can see why. The mug is easy to hold and comfortable to sip from. It keeps beverages nice and warm, thanks to that trusty double wall of stainless steel vacuum insulation. However, the OXO leaks a little when tipped upside down. We wouldn’t trust it when tossed in a bag and jostled around during a train commute, though it would sit nicely in a car’s cup holder.
Tied with the OXO mug is the Chantal mug, which also has quality insulation. We like the button on the top, which releases a seal and allows you to sip from any side of the cup. It’s easy to use and easy to drink from. The mug is small, compact, and has a generally cute shape, but like the OXO, it barely passes the leak test: a few pesky drops of water drip from the top when you shake it upside down.
Though the short Hydro Flask coffee mug wouldn’t pass the throw-it-in-your-bag test, we liked that it felt like a traditional mug. This mug has solid construction and excellent heat-retaining power. The press-in lid doesn’t seal off completely—the sipping spot stays open—but it does have some splash-resistance power that helps in transport. It’d be best for a driving or walking commuter. Plus, it’s great if you have a Keurig or other single-serving coffee maker that only works with a short mug.
Overall, many of the travel tumblers we tested were passable, but somewhere along the way, we encountered a hiccup—usually related to leakage or heat-retention. The YETI Rambler and Bino Twister Mug had some leakage issues. The Klean Kanteen, Contigo Mug, and Aladdin Recyclable Mug didn’t have seamless lid-opening functions. The Stanley Classic One-Hand Mug was hard to clean and the Zyliss Travel French Press and Coffee Mug couldn’t stand up to a commute. The Thermos Travel Mug didn’t keep our coffee as hot as the winners. The faults were generally small, but they kept these models from winning our top spots.
Buy a Zojirushi for the all around best travel mug. It’s leak-proof, keeps drinks hot or cold for hours, and is compact and easy to cram in your bag. It has a five-year warranty and is built to last. For a less-compact but very stylish option, choose an Ello mug. They’re cool-looking, leak-proof, and they’ll keep your drink warm. If you want a mug for high aesthetics, pick up a Kinto Day Off Tumbler. For shorter, super-compact options that are nice to drink from, go for the MiiR Travel Tumbler or the handled Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Mug. If you want a mug you could put in your pocket, get the Stojo Collapsible Travel Mug.
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Originally Appeared on Epicurious