If you’re an avid coffee drinker and toying with the idea of a zero-waste (or lower-waste) lifestyle your first step should be bringing your own thermos or mug to your local spot. Trading your daily paper to-go cup for a more ecoconscious reusable mug isn’t just about sustainability. Experts like Natalie Slavutsky of Brooklyn Diamond Coffee agree that coffee actually tastes better out of ceramic, glass, or stainless steel than out of paper or plastic. “You’re just getting a better cup of coffee than in a paper cup.” says Slavutsky.
If that doesn’t convince you to make a change, “many cafés reward customers who bring in reusable drink ware with a discount for helping them move towards being more sustainable,” says Allie Caran, director of education at Toby’s Estate. Here are the best reusable mugs and tumblers to bring into your local coffee spot according to baristas, coffee entrepreneurs, and one environmentally minded Strategist editor.
KeepCup kept coming up in our conversations. These small glass cups were originally designed by two former baristas in Melbourne, Australia, meaning they help people like Joanna Lareau, barista at Blue Bottle Coffee 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. It’s also easier, because of their small size for us to make a cortado or a cappuccino and where they put the sleeve helps us to know how high to fill the cup. Some reusable cups are so big they don’t fit into the espresso machine and you can’t really pour into them well.”
“We’ve definitely seen a movement to eliminate single-use drink ware grow in coffee industry, particularly in the past year. More customers come into our cafés with their own cups and mugs. For coffee in particular, glass or stainless steel that won’t absorb strong flavors or aromas is best. We really like the glass mugs made by Joco, an Australian brand that makes a beautiful and functional line of products that are entirely plastic-free.” — Allie Caran of Toby’s Estate
Caran also love the minimal and functional design of the this tumbler from Miir. “For a thermal mug, we really like the Miir 12oz Vacuum-Insulated Travel Tumbler. It’s super-sleek, retains heat (and cold) really well, and doesn’t leak.”
Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens uses this cherry-red Hydro Flask for her daily caffeine dose. “I drink lattes, which are eye-rollingly expensive when you add the almond milk and the tip and maybe get it iced. I got this thermos-like container for my morning coffee. Its stocky profile reminds me of the soup containers we all lugged around in elementary school.”
Vivienne Weidmann of Blue Bottle reminded us how important good lid design can be. “What I like about the design of this lid in particular is that the mouth piece is big enough for me to sip the coffee without burning myself. And there’s no space that opening for the milk or coffee or whatever I’m drinking to dry up and collect in there.” Otterbox just released a line of interchangeable lids and accessories including a French press for brewing on the go.
Derek Van Heule of Sticks Coffee Roasting in Mariposa, California, used to work slinging espresso in Brooklyn so he’s had a while to refine his tumbler tastes. “The Yeti Rambler fits into my car cupholder — a lot of travel mugs don’t — and it keeps my coffee hot for a long time. I like that it’s simply designed and durable.”
For something that won’t break the bank, or upset you too much if you lose it, Casey Roberts of Everyman Espresso is a fan of this snap-top thermos. “The Contigo brand is good, especially if you’re looking for something that travels well in a bag.”
Chris and Lindsay Grodski of S&S Cornershop in Springs, New York, love these simple Japanese tumblers. “These travel tumblers keep your drinks hot or cold for hours. Best of all when you’re done you just wash and reuse. Our customers love these and so do we.”
Coffee director Gina Gerfao of Blue State Coffee knows it’s important to encourage people if you want to make real change. “We try to incentivize customers to bring their own mug by offering a 50 cent discount for those who do bring their own. Part of our mission is to minimize our environmental impact through sustainable practices, so we’re always pleased when customers bring their own travel mug or thermos as it helps us decrease waste.” Zojirushi has been a Strategist favorite for years so it’s a great place to start.
A Few More Travel Mugs We Like
If you’re a fanatic about drinking your coffee at the optimal temperature, you will love Ember’s new travel mug. The battery-powered thermos keeps any drink at perfect temperature for as long as you need. A simple twist of the bottom allows you to adjust the temperature. But if that’s too much work you can customize your mug through an app on your phone.
For iced-coffee heads who aren’t down with plastic straw waste, this thermos from hydration all-stars Klean Kanteen comes with a stainless-steel straw and brush for cleaning. Best of all it’ll keep your coffee cold for hours.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.