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The 12 Very Best Travel Mugs

Cut back on waste and enjoy a better cup of coffee.

Photo: Marcus McDonald
Photo: Marcus McDonald

In this article

The days of paper cups and plastic straws are, if not entirely behind us, certainly not what they used to be. I know when I walk into any coffee shop, I’m bound to see at least a handful of people asking for their morning brew to be poured into their own reusable vessel instead of something disposable. And trust me: Baristas are more than happy to oblige. Every single one of the pros I talked to for this story said that not only are ceramic, glass, and stainless-steel options better for the environment, they actually make your coffee taste better than paper or plastic (same goes for tea). Most important, though, they keep your drink hot or cold for longer. All of the travel mugs on this list have temperature retention for at least a few hours, if not longer, with the exception of three, which I’ve noted and explained. While all of them work well, if you’re going to invest in this long-term good habit, you want to find the one that best fits your coffee habits and, of course, aesthetic preference. Read on to help determine which reusable cup, mug, or tumbler is best for you.

What we’re looking for

Volume

Most of these travel mugs come in various sizes, but of course that’s an important feature to pay attention to when buying. Eight or 12 ounces is on the smaller side, both good for standard cappuccinos or cortados, or if you don’t consume that much coffee or tea. Twenty ounces is pretty big, useful if you’re going to be toting your drink around all day without the chance for refills. And then, of course 16 ounces is somewhere in between.

Lid type

The type of lid on your travel mug can make a fairly big difference in how you experience drinking. Some have bigger openings, some smaller. Some snap shut, others twist open and close. This can come down to personal preference — meaning the literal mouthfeel of each one. But it’s also important to consider when and how you’ll be using your travel mug, whether that’s commuting by train or car, sitting at a desk, or running errands around your neighborhood.

How to clean

Some travel mugs on this list are dishwasher safe, others need to be cleaned by hand. Take note if that’s an important factor for you.

Best overall travel mug

From $28

Volume: 12 to 20 ounces | Lid type: Flip lid | How to clean: Dishwasher safe

The MiiR Travel Tumbler is “super-sleek, retains heat and cold really well, and never leaks,” says Allie Caran, product manager at Barista Valet in New York City. In my own testing, I found the same to be true. The whole lid screws on tight, with a small piece that flips up when you take a sip, then locks back in when you’re done. Sipping from it is comfortable, too. The mouthpiece is small enough to allow for a steady stream of liquid to flow without spilling, but not so small that you feel like you’re not getting enough out. This is even the case with iced coffee; the cubes never obstruct the opening or cause uneven flow.

Jerad Morrison, co-founder and co-CEO of Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco, explains that the temperature retention is thanks to the double-walled interior, which also means it’s never too hot or too cold to hold on the outside. (I find the grip itself to be secure, too, slim enough to fit in one hand.) “It’s stainless steel, so it washes really easily,” Morrison says, “and doesn’t hold on to any flavors.” Will Pratt, founder and owner of Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, Maine, agrees that its material makes it a breeze to clean — and that if you have one, you can even just throw it in the dishwasher. “Coffee has sticky oils that leave residue, and there’s nothing worse than a mug that holds that flavor over time,” he says. The final bonus, as mentioned by Morisson, is that it fits into cup holders in both cars and bikes, which “is not always the case.”

Michael Philips, director of content and copy at Blue Bottle, recommends Miir’s standard tumbler. The body is made from the same material as the travel model, above, with a shape that tapers slightly toward the bottom so it still feels good in the hand and fits in cupholders, Philips says. The clear lid also “gives you a chance to see what you’re drinking,” he says, and “does a great job stopping sloshes from getting out and onto your hands.”

Best travel mug for cappuccinos

$24

Volume: 12 and 16 ounces | Lid type: Flip lid | How to clean: Hand-wash only

KeepCup was also mentioned by many of our experts. The small glass vessels were originally designed by two former baristas in Melbourne, Australia, making it easier for people like Joanna Lareau, coffee manager at Stumptown, to 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,” she says. She also notes that, because of their small size, they’re easier to use when making cortados or cappuccinos. “Some reusable cups are so big they don’t fit into the espresso machine,” she says. Samya Said, former barista-training manager at Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, likes that they’re made with an inner slope, which she says “allows baristas to pour amazing art every time.” The lid here functions pretty much the same as the MiiR, which means you can sip from the hole or take the whole thing off if that’s how you prefer to enjoy a cappuccino. One note: The glass body means that there’s not as much heat retention going on as some of the others. For Ryan Fisher, director of coffee and roasting at GoodBoyBob Coffee in Santa Monica, California, that’s actually a benefit instead of a problem: The glass gets his coffee to the exact temperature he likes quickly.

Best travel mug for iced coffee

Volume: 12 and 16 ounces | Lid type: Twist-off lid | How to clean: Hand-wash only

Fellow is generally a favorite brand among industry folks. As with all their products, the travel mug has a streamlined look. Even though you can’t throw it in the dishwasher, Morrison says the stainless-steel interior makes it easy to clean. And it retains hot and cold temperatures with the best of them. But the coolest feature of all? “There’s a small guard insert at the top,” Morrison says, “so if you’re drinking iced coffee, the cubes don’t fall back onto your face when you get toward the bottom.”

Best travel mug for commuting

Volume: 12 and 16 ounces | Lid type: Flip lid | How to clean: Hand-wash recommended

The Zojirushi, which was also a top pick for reusable water bottles, comes with a lot of the same perks as many others on this list: fantastic temperature control and a slim, sleek, and lightweight body. But according to tea consultant Sara Shacket, its most impressive quality is that it’s completely airtight. “It really doesn’t leak,” she says. “I’ve used it during many commutes on the subway, thrown in my bag, and was never worried. Same if I was hiking on a trip. It could be upside down and it wouldn’t leak.” Cookbook author and recipe developer Carla Lalli Music, who owns multiple Zojirushi models, echoes this sentiment, saying, “It has the most bustproof cap in the biz.”

Best travel mug with a handle

Volume: 10 to 24 ounces | Lid type: Slide lid | How to clean: Dishwasher safe

Steven Sadoff, founder of New York City’s Ground Support, has many travel mugs (including the MiiR and the Fellow above), but he turns to his Yeti when he wants a handle. He says he finds this feature particularly convenient when he’s driving because even though it doesn’t fit in a cup holder, he can easily grab it and sip with control. “It makes for a pretty comfortable drinking experience,” he says, “especially as you get close to the end of your coffee.” The same applies when he meets friends for a coffee outside because “you can gesticulate wildly without spilling.” Aside from the handle, he appreciates that the mug seals incredibly tightly, keeps liquid hot for hours, and is dishwasher safe. Rhiannon Giddens is another fan, saying that Yeti bottles keep liquid “hot or cold for a millennia.”

Best less expensive travel mug with a handle

From $28
Photo: retailer

Volume: 8 to 20 ounces | Lid type: Slide lid | How to clean: Hand-wash recommended

Recommended by multiple experts, MiiR also makes a sweet travel mug that mimics an actual handled mug. Em Orendorff, former manager at Intelligentsia Coffee, likes it because “it’s shaped just like the mugs we use in the café (short and wide with a great handle), so it’s a breeze for baristas to make your drink in it as well as easy to clean and to drink out of.” Caleb Chauncey, former barista at East Pole Coffee Co. in Atlanta, likes that its insulated interior keeps drinks warm or cold for long periods of time, and it keeps a consistent temperature on the outside too. “It won’t burn your hand if you have a hot beverage inside, and it won’t sweat when you have a cold one,” he says. To me, it seems like the perfect camping companion. It’s also worth noting that it comes in the largest range of sizes of any of the mugs we’ve listed.

Best travel mug with a replaceable lid

Volume: 12 to 20 ounces | Lid type: Twist-off lid or sip lid | How to clean: Dishwasher safe

Hydro Flask is another go-to for water (in fact, it was named our best overall bottle because so many people sung its praises). But the materials and build that keep liquid cold also keep liquid hot, as Strategist editor and avid coffee drinker Maxine Builder can attest to. She particularly likes the model with a Flex Sip lid. “It’s a lot easier to manipulate on the go and actually keeps the hot coffee in there,” she says. “The other advantage of this lid is the addition of a hook, which means I can carry it with one finger while I walk my dog in the morning.” Best of all, if you already own a Hydro Flask, you can buy the new lid separately and just replace your old one. The company says it’s dishwasher safe, but hand-washing is recommended — though both my boyfriend and I have been putting our own Hydro Flasks in the dishwasher for months now with no damage.

Best no-leak travel mug

Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa loves his Kinto Travel Tumbler because of its double-lid system, which prevents leaks. You take both off to fill the bottle, then twist in the first one that has a few holes around the perimeter to sip from, and then add the fully closed screw top over that. It stays extra-secure, Rellosa says, because there are no small flip-up or sliding parts that can open by accident. Once, he had to stuff it into his backpack while traveling and thought he was going to open it to find coffee stains on his clothes, but everything inside stayed clean and dry. Plus, “the actual lid where you drink from and makes contact with your lips never touches the exterior of your bag, or wherever you’re stashing it,” Rellosa says. Julia Shaw, director of marketing at NYC’s Devoción Coffee, is another fan. She says the bottle keeps liquid hot or cold for a long time and has an “elegant” aesthetic appeal.

Best travel mug with open hole lid

Volume: 12 ounces | Lid type: Sip lid | How to clean: Dishwasher safe

Kinto’s To-Go Tumbler has a very small but always-open sip hole, which means it’s best suited for when you’re sitting at a desk or on a walk holding the tumbler in your hand. This means your drink will stay hot for about an hour and cold for several hours, but it’s not going to retain its temperature all day long. That said, it’s still a favorite of a couple of our experts. For ​​Haley Boyd, a designer and sustainability enthusiast, this is mostly because of the aesthetic. “It’s an attractive, simple shape in a solid color without a huge logo, which is surprisingly hard to find,” she says. But for Noah McKeown, general manager at Go Get Em Tiger in Los Angeles, who uses his nearly every day, it’s more than just looks. “I like the small-hole sip lid,” he says. “I think the flow-out of it is really nice. It never spills, but you still get a lot of the coffee aromatics out of it.”

Best customizable travel mug

Volume: 12 and 16 ounces | Lid type: Button lid or straw lid | How to clean: Dishwasher safe

Not only does this ceramic-lined mug hit the mark on functionality, it also allows you to customize way beyond size. First, you can choose the lid type you want: one with a button release or one with a built-in straw. Then, you can design it so the entire thing is monochrome — you get to choose from a bunch of very pretty, muted colors — or so the body, lid, and button are all different colors. It’s quite fun to play around with.

Best glass travel mug for brewing tea

Volume: 7 ounces | Lid type: Twist-off lid | How to clean: Dishwasher safe

Daniela Titiun, tea sommelier and author of Tea Cachai, tried many different glass tea mugs before landing on one she calls “the smartest system” for its game-changing tea-brewing mechanism. Normally, she explains, tumblers have a metal insert that’s filled with tea leaves and steeped in water. That means that once the appropriate amount of time has passed, you either have to remove the strainer — which can be impractical, if you’re on the go — or just leave the leaves inside, which can cause your drink to get bitter. The Oneisall, however, functions by dividing the vessel in half with a filter. One side houses the leaves; the other, the water. This allows you to turn the bottle upside down to infuse and then right side up when you’re ready to unscrew and sip. (There’s a helpful video on the product page.) While the glass means this mug is non-insulating, the double walls help retain heat for about an hour, and at only seven ounces, it should be easy to finish by then. Plus, as Titiun notes, you can easily re-brew for a second time with the same leaves.

Best stainless-steel travel mug for brewing tea

Volume: 16 ounces | Lid type: Sip lid | How to clean: Hand-wash recommended

Like the model above, this travel mug (which was gifted to me by the brand) brews tea without an infuser sitting in your water — but instead of the flip method, it has a more traditional tea press that you push down once the steep time is over (similar to a French press). The grip is comfortable, so I often take it with me on late-afternoon walks, and the twist-off lid is extremely tight. It hasn’t ever spilled, even when jostled in my tote bag. There are small sip holes around the perimeter of the top of the infuser so you can drink from any angle, all while the flow of liquid is slow and controlled. Finally, because of the stainless-steel insulation, it stays at temperature for hours; when I brew it before I go upstairs for the evening, it’s still hot when I drink from it before bed.

Some more travel mugs we’ve written about

Our experts

• ​​Haley Boyd, designer and sustainability enthusiast
• Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
• Allie Caran, product manager at Barista Valet
• Caleb Chauncey, former barista at East Pole Coffee Co.
• Ryan Fisher, Director of Coffee and Roasting at GoodBoyBob Coffee
• Joanna Lareau, coffee manager at Stumptown
• Noah McKeown, general manager at Go Get Em Tiger
• Jerad Morrison, co-founder and co-CEO of Sightglass Coffee
Carla Lalli Music, cookbook author and recipe developer
• Em Orendorff, former manager at Intelligentsia Coffee
• Michael Philips, director of content and copy at Blue Bottle
• Will Pratt, founder and owner of Tandem Coffee Roasters
• Jeremy Rellosa, Strategist writer
• Steven Sadoff, founder of New York City’s Ground Support
• Samya Said, former barista training manager at Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea
Sara Shacket, tea consultant
• Julia Shaw, director of marketing at Devoción Coffee
• Daniela Titiun, tea sommelier and author of Tea Cachai

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The 12 Very Best Travel Mugs