The Best Travel Coffee Mugs, According To Rigorous Testing

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We independently select all products and services. If you click through links we provide, we may earn a commission. Learn moreVettedHomeThe Best Travel Coffee Mugs, According To Rigorous TestingLeah KoenigContributorOpinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.Forbes VettedMar 22, 2024,02:54pm EDT

I bought my first reusable coffee mug 20 years ago, when I was a junior in college. As a young student with a burgeoning coffee addiction and a desire to reduce my use of disposable paper and plastic cups, getting a reusable mug seemed like a logical choice. I can’t recall the brand of travel coffee mug I purchased back then, but I do remember it leaked profusely and left an unpleasant plastic taste in my morning brew. Fast-forward two decades, and after putting 14 different travel coffee mugs and tumblers through their paces over 10 days, I am happy to report that the contemporary travel mug game is very strong. The Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated Coffee Tumbler stood out for keeping my coffee piping hot and fresh-tasting and my bag free of leaks and spills all day — all without breaking the bank. From tumblers featuring sturdy reusable straws designed for iced beverages, like the Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler, to the Yeti Rambler Stackable Cup, specifically designed for espresso drinks, there are many worthy travel coffee mugs on the market today.

Below, you’ll find my top recommendations for the best travel coffee mugs across various categories.

Best Travel Coffee Mug Overall: Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated Coffee TumblerBest Insulated Travel Coffee Mug: Zojirushi Stainless Steel MugBest Travel Coffee Mug With A Handle: Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable MugBest Iced Coffee Travel Mug: Fellow Carter Cold TumblerBest Leak-Proof Travel Coffee Mug: Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel MugBest Small Travel Coffee Mug: KeepCup Brew Cork Reusable Coffee CupBest Travel Coffee Mug For Espresso: Yeti Rambler Stackable Espresso Cup

Best Travel Coffee Mug Overall

A Leakproof Tumbler That Offers A Delightful Coffee-Drinking Experience

Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated Coffee Tumbler

Buy From Klean Kanteen

Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 16 ounces | Insulated: Yes | Dimensions: 3 x 8.7 inches | Weight: 13.9 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best for:

Daily coffee drinking on the go Carrying coffee around in your purse, backpack or gym bag with no spills

Skip if:

You prefer a mug with fewer components to clean

Every mug and tumbler I tested had redeeming qualities when it came to insulation, being leakproof or delivering a delightful coffee-drinking experience. However, none of these excelled on all fronts as consistently as the Klean Kanteen TKWide Insulated Coffee Tumbler.

This tumbler earned top marks for insulation, maintaining my coffee above 140 degrees Fahrenheit (considered the upper end of the ideal drinking temperature range) for six hours and keeping iced coffee brisk at 47 degrees for eight hours. The screw-top lid proved completely leakproof, passing even my rigorous upside-down shaking tests. I even took the filled tumbler on a flight from New York to Minneapolis without experiencing any spills. I appreciated the environmental aspect of Klean Kanteen’s tumbler, crafted from 90% post-consumer recycled stainless steel. Additionally, it’s dishwasher-safe, including the cap, and didn’t leave any noticeable flavor residue in my coffee.

The only potential downside of Klean Kanteen’s tumbler is the accompanying Café Cap. While it effectively prevents leaks and offers a smooth coffee flow, it consists of five screw-together parts that require effort to reassemble after washing. Moreover, if one piece of the cap is misplaced, the entire cap becomes unusable. Instead, I recommend pairing the TKWide tumbler with Klean Kanteen’s compatible Loop Cap (available separately), which is equally leakproof and much simpler to use.

Best Insulated Travel Coffee Mug

A Lightweight tumbler With A Nifty Flip-Top Lid

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

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Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 20 ounces | Insulated: Yes | Dimensions: 2.9 x 3.1 x 9.3 inches | Weight: 10 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: No

Best for:

Maintaining your beverages piping hot or refreshingly icy cold for extended periodsEasy access with one hand for opening and drinking

Skip if:

You prefer a travel mug with a traditional design

Anyone who owns a Zojirushi rice cooker, like myself, will understand my obsession with its products. The Japan-based company makes some of the highest-quality, best-performing appliances globally. The brand’s double-walled, vacuum-insulated travel mug is no exception. To put it to the test, I poured nearly boiling water (207 degrees) into the Zojirushi travel mug at 10 a.m. Six hours later, the water remained impressively hot at 170 degrees, and even after 12 hours, it was still above 140 degrees. On the cooler side of things, after eight hours of holding ice water, a digital thermometer inserted into the center of the mug showed a temperature of 47 degrees, tying for the coldest among all the models.

The 20-ounce travel mug I experimented with (also available in a 24-ounce size) felt lightweight in my hand, even when filled with coffee. Once the leakproof lid was securely screwed into place, I felt completely at ease carrying it in my backpack. The mug’s flip-top lid, controlled by a button, dispenses liquid in a smooth, splash-free stream. My only minor critique of the Zojirushi travel mug is its tapered shape and lid, making it resemble more of a water bottle suitable for coffee rather than a conventional travel coffee mug. Not everyone may share or be concerned about this stylistic observation. However, I feel more inclined to fill the Zojirushi Stainless Mug with ice water for a hike rather than with coffee for the office. Read my full review to learn more about the Zojirushi Stainless Mug.

Best Travel Coffee Mug With A Handle

A Stylish, Splash-Resistant Mug

Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable Mug

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Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12 ounces | Insulated: Yes | Dimensions: 4.6 x 3.5 inches | Weight: 12 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: Lid only

Best for:

Taking your morning cup on the train or for a walk with the dogEnjoying morning coffee at the campsite or while traveling

Skip if:

You prefer longer insulationYou need a leak-free travel mug

I adore a quality mug — the type that beckons you to wrap your fingers around it on a chilly morning. The Hydro Flask mug fits the bill perfectly, with the bonus of a press-on lid that allows you to take your coffee on the go without worrying about spills and splashes.

While the mug’s double-walled vacuum insulation wasn’t the most impressive among its peers, it managed to maintain coffee above 120 degrees (considered the lower end of the ideal drinking temperature range) for several hours, which suited my coffee-drinking needs just fine. Additionally, the soft, textured exterior adds to the pleasure of holding the mug, and the slide-top lid dispenses both hot and cold liquids evenly and smoothly. During my testing, I noticed a gentleman strolling to the subway with his Hydro Flask, and I couldn’t help but admire how effortlessly and stylishly it fit into his morning routine. (Normally, I might not have paid attention, but travel mugs were on my mind!)

Although the Hydro Flask mug is splash-resistant while walking, it’s not completely leakproof when shaken upside down, so I wouldn’t recommend tossing it into your purse or bag. However, its lightweight design allows it to be conveniently stowed, empty, in a suitcase or camping backpack, ensuring it’s always ready for coffee time — wherever and whenever it may be. Additionally, the slider top easily disassembles and reassembles, simplifying the process of keeping the mug thoroughly clean.

Best Iced Coffee Travel Mug

A Must-Have For Iced Coffee Lovers

Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler

Buy From Fellow

Material: Ceramic-coated stainless steel | Capacity: 16 ounces | Insulated: Yes | Dimensions: 3 x 10.3 inches | Weight: 10.6 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: Lid and straw only

Best for:

Frosty coffee drinks that stay cold for hoursSuperior sipping on the move

Skip if:

Iced coffee isn’t your thing

As a proud member of the year-round iced coffee aficionados, I’m conscious of the environmental impact of my daily coffee routine and thus, you can imagine my enthusiasm at discovering Fellow’s Carter Cold Tumbler. This ceramic-coated, stainless steel cup maintains iced coffee at frosty temperatures for hours, all without leaving behind any metallic taste. During the insulation test, the tumbler impressively sustained a chilly 47 degrees for eight hours, outperforming its main competitor, the Simple Modern Classic Tumbler. Additionally, I found the sleek, smooth-sided design of the tumbler comfortable to grip (though I harbored some concerns about potential drops and dents), while the thin yet robust straw provided a delightful drinking experience.

The inclusion of the straw (in other words, a literal hole) means the Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler isn’t entirely leakproof, but its spill-resistant nature, even when tipped, is remarkable. Opting for the 16-ounce tumbler, I found it held a satisfying amount of cold brew and was readily accepted by my local baristas. While the model is also available in a 20-ounce size, I prefer the slightly smaller size for its optimal portability. Read my detailed review to learn more about the Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler.

Best Leak-Proof Travel Coffee Mug

A Sturdy Tumbler That’s Dishwasher-Safe

Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug

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Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 16 ounces | Insulated: Yes | Dimensions: 2.9 x 2.9 x 8.9 inches | Weight: 12.8 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best for:

Keeping your coffee piping hot throughout the dayEnsuring no leaks or spills whatsoever

Skip if:

You prefer a more straightforward cap design

The Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug, equipped with a robust screw-top cap, is absolutely leakproof. I vigorously shook it, even held it upside down and shook it some more. I even filled it with hot coffee and took it on a flight, carrying it all over New York in my tote. In every trial, the Stanley mug reliably kept my coffee securely contained. Additionally, the push-top “trigger action” cap allowed for convenient one-handed drinking without compromising the mug’s leakproof design. It efficiently maintained the temperature of 16 ounces of coffee, whether hot or chilled, throughout the day, rivaling the performance of other mugs and tumblers I tested.

During the cleaning process, I observed that the cap required disassembly into two parts, which then needed to be reassembled. Considering my tendency to misplace lids (yes, Tupperware, I’m talking to you!), I had some reservations about keeping track of multiple cap components. However, for individuals who are more organized with their kitchen equipment than I am, Stanley’s travel mug is undoubtedly a winning choice.

Best Small Travel Coffee Mug

A Reusable Cup With A Cork Band To Keep Your Fingers Safe

KeepCup Brew Cork Reusable Coffee Cup

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Material: Tempered glass, 100% recovered cork | Capacity: 12 ounces | Insulated: No | Dimensions: 3.5 x 4.7 inches | Weight: 9.5 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: Yes, with cork band removed

Best for:

Reducing paper cup waste at the caféAn improvement over the finger-burning paper coffee cup experience

Skip if:

You require coffee to stay hot during an extended commute

KeepCup’s Brew Cork coffee cup earns its spot on this list largely due to its aesthetically pleasing design. The sturdy, tempered-glass cup feels delightful to hold, thanks to its soft, sloping shape and the slip-free cork band encircling the top. (The cork band also doubles as a reusable coffee cup sleeve, protecting your fingers from potential burns.) It is the kind of product that sparks conversations with strangers on the street inquiring, “Where did you get that?” Additionally, while not completely leakproof, the press-on “sipper lid” does a commendable job of preventing coffee from splashing onto your hands or dribbling onto your shirt as you walk.

While KeepCup doesn’t offer extensive insulation, making it less suitable for lengthy commutes or trips, it’s an ideal choice if you aim to reduce paper cup waste at the coffee shop or need a stylish and functional reusable cup for the office. After use, the cork band easily slips off, allowing both the cup and lid to be cleaned in the dishwasher’s top rack. Available in four sizes, including a petite 6-ounce cup and a larger 16-ounce cup, I found the 12-ounce option perfectly suited to my daily coffee needs.

Best Travel Coffee Mug For Espresso

A Petite Cup Designed For Espresso Lovers

Yeti Rambler Stackable Espresso Cup

Buy From Amazon

Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 8 ounces | Insulated: Yes | Dimensions: 2.8 x 4.3 inches | Weight: 8 ounces | Dishwasher-safe: Yes

Best for:

On-the-go espresso drinksAnyone looking for a small, lightweight drinking vessel

Skip if:

You prefer larger coffee or espresso drinks

I almost didn’t test Yeti’s espresso cup. At 8 ounces, it seemed quite small — would a cup of that size really be useful? However, this tiny yet mighty cup has proven to be a valuable addition to my coffee arsenal. I like to toss it (unfilled — since the lid isn’t leakproof) into my tote bag when running afternoon errands, treating myself to a cortado or macchiato on the way home. The petite, lightweight cup (weighing under half a pound) feels great in the hand, settling in your palm like your favorite at-home mug. It’s also barista-approved — staff at my local coffee shop mentioned it’s a delight to make espresso drinks in.

Despite its vacuum-insulated stainless steel walls, the Yeti Rambler Stackable Cup didn’t perform exceptionally well during insulation testing. After six hours, the liquid in the cup dropped from 207 degrees to just under 100 degrees, making it less than ideal for those seeking to keep their coffee steaming hot all day. However, espresso drinks, typically topped with warmed and frothed milk, aren’t meant to be held for hours. They’re intended to be enjoyed immediately, and the Yeti Rambler Stackable Cup allows you to do just that.

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Other Travel Coffee Mugs I Tested

To find the best travel coffee mugs for toting your morning brew on the go, I rigorously tested 14 tumblers and mugs over 10 days. While each model had its upsides and drawbacks, here are the seven models that didn’t quite make my final cut.

Ello Magnet Stainless Steel Travel Mug: I nearly selected Ello’s travel mug as my pick for the best travel coffee mug with a handle. I appreciated its slim and sleek design, along with the magnetic lid closure that effectively kept liquids securely inside, even during vigorous shaking. The vacuum insulation also kept coffee relatively hot — after five hours, my instant thermometer registered 127 degrees (down from 207 degrees) when inserted into the middle of the cup, which was comparable to its primary competitor, the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable Mug. However, in the end, I preferred the look and feel of the Hydro Flask in my hand.

Fellow Carter Move Mug: I wanted to love the Fellow Carter Move Mug, just as I adored its iced coffee-friendly counterpart, the Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler. While I did appreciate the snap-in splash guard that effectively prevented sloshes and spills while I drank, the Move Mug presented a few drawbacks that I couldn’t overlook. The cylindrical mug felt rather bulky and had a slippery exterior, making it feel awkward and unstable in my hand. Additionally, I encountered difficulty with the screw-top lid — it seemed nearly impossible to open. Perhaps the hot coffee inside created too strong of a vacuum seal, or maybe my experience was unusual. Regardless, I literally couldn’t open it after filling the mug with hot coffee and screwing it closed. My husband had to resort to banging the cap on the counter to loosen the seal, which did the trick but unfortunately left unsightly dents in the stainless steel.

MiiR Flip Traveler: There were certainly some notable advantages to MiiR’s 12-ounce travel mug (also available in a 16-ounce size). It’s slim and compact, making it easy to hold, and thanks to the truly leakproof screw-top lid, it’s convenient to pack in a purse or backpack with confidence — even when filled with hot coffee. It effectively maintained my coffee above 140 degrees for six hours and at a refreshing 48 degrees for eight hours. However, the primary drawback for me was the discomfort I experienced while drinking from it. The lid’s flip top proved to be cumbersome to open, requiring both hands and a significant amount of effort. Additionally, once open, I noticed that I had to tilt my head quite far back to sip the liquid, resulting in my nose uncomfortably bumping against the lid.

Owala SmoothSip Stainless Steel Coffee Tumbler: Drinking from the Owala SmoothSip was undeniably a smooth experience. The drinking spout dispensed coffee smoothly and evenly, providing overall comfort. However, the inability to fully close the spout meant that the 20-ounce tumbler lacked leakproof capabilities and didn’t excel in insulation. Additionally, I found the cup’s wide shape to be cumbersome to hold.

Simple Modern Insulated Tumbler: While I adored the overall aesthetic of Simple Modern’s Classic Tumbler, I was disappointed by its insulation performance. After eight hours, the iced coffee stored inside registered 58 degrees, which was 11 degrees warmer than the Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler under the same conditions. Additionally, I found the tumbler’s tapered shape and relatively wide top to be less comfortable to hold compared to a straight-sided option. (I tested the 20-ounce tumbler, but it’s also available in 16-ounce, 24-ounce and 28-ounce sizes.)

S’well Stainless Steel Travel Mug: The S’well mug has a pleasing size and shape, but it fell short in terms of insulation. Compared to its primary testing competitors, the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable Mug and Ello Magnet Stainless Steel Travel Mug, the S’well mug felt thinner and flimsier, and the lid seemed less secure when pressed on. While my husband appreciated this mug’s faux teakwood design, I personally found it to look too artificial.

W&P Insulated Bottle: I was immediately captivated by W&P’s 16-ounce Insulated Bottle (also available in 12-ounce and 20-ounce sizes). The silicone grip felt luxuriously soft and secure in my hand, while the screw-top lid ensured no leaks. Additionally, the “drink-through” lid (sold separately) effectively controlled spills, even while I was walking. I also appreciated the bottle’s ceramic coating, which imparted no metallic taste to the coffee and water stored inside, and left no stains behind — even after a full day of holding coffee. However, by the second week of my testing process, with minimal use, I already noticed scratches and tiny chips in the ceramic near the top of the bottle. While minor, this raised concerns about the bottle’s durability over the long term.

How I Tested The Best Travel Coffee Mugs

I tested out 14 different travel coffee mugs and tumblers over 10 days to find the very best travel coffee mugs on the market. This involved consuming copious amounts of hot and iced coffee and tea at home, as well as sampling espresso drinks from my local coffee shop.

For me, the most important criteria were how comfortable the mugs and tumblers felt in my hands, and how seamless and enjoyable they were to drink from. I spent considerable time holding them in various ways, picking them up and, of course, drinking from them. Although these actions may have seemed peculiar out of context, they provided valuable insights.

To test for leakage, I vigorously shook the filled mugs both right side up and upside down. Those that passed this shake test were then subjected to further testing by being carried in my tote bag or backpack to ensure they remained leakproof on the go. I even took a couple of the most promising travel coffee mugs on an airplane to assess their performance under cabin pressure.

When evaluating insulation, I filled the mugs with freshly boiled water and monitored the temperature after six hours of undisturbed resting. For chilled drinks, I filled them with iced coffee and checked the temperature regularly. After a full day of use, I washed the mugs — either by hand or in the dishwasher — and examined them for any lingering coffee residue or odors.

Considering that many people use their coffee mugs while driving or strolling with their kids, I made sure to test whether each mug fit into the cupholder of my Toyota RAV4. Surprisingly, all of the travel mugs fit comfortably, with even the protruding handles of the Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable Mug and S’well Stainless Steel Travel Mug proving to be manageable. Additionally, I tested the mugs in my 5-year-old’s umbrella stroller, finding that while they did fit, larger and heavier options such as the Simple Modern Insulated Tumbler and the Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug stretched the cupholder’s capacity and felt less secure.

My Expertise

As someone who frequently travels for work and enjoys visiting local coffee shops when at home, I have developed strong preferences for what I seek in a to-go cup. So when this assignment came along from Forbes Vetted, I jumped at the opportunity to enhance my already extensive collection of travel coffee mugs.

Professionally, I am a seasoned food writer with over 15 years of experience. My work spans various esteemed publications such as Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, the Washington Post, New York Magazine and Food52. Additionally, I have authored seven cookbooks and regularly contribute to Forbes Vetted, where I publish meticulously tested reviews for kitchen items such as adult lunch boxes, rice cookers and hand mixers.

To fill in any gaps in my own coffee-related expertise, I enlisted the insights of two industry experts. Stephanie Dana, from the Brooklyn-based roastery Parlor Coffee, and Namisha Parthasarathy, co-founder of the coffee subscription service Aramse, provided their valuable knowledge and perspective.

How To Pick A Travel Coffee Mug

Size And Shape

The ideal size and shape for a travel coffee mug is arguably subjective. In my experience, I found it more comfortable to hold mugs and tumblers that leaned toward taller and slimmer designs rather than wider ones, especially those with a wide top that tapered toward the bottom. Parthasarathy echoed this sentiment, stating, “Some cups are just too wide to hold, which can be a little cumbersome — especially for someone with smaller hands.”

Additionally, I found mugs with handles to be convenient, as they provided a more traditional feel akin to at-home mugs. However, I ultimately did not find a handle to be necessary to enjoy drinking from a mug or tumbler.

Material

The majority of high-quality travel coffee mugs available today are constructed from stainless steel, and for good reason. Stainless steel provides effective vacuum insulation and is generally easy to maintain. According to Parthasarathy, “Stainless steel mugs with a ceramic coating help prevent odor retention.” My experience with a few mugs and tumblers featuring a nontoxic ceramic coating, such as the Fellow Carter Cold Tumbler and the W&P Insulated Bottle, supported this claim. Nevertheless, Parthasarathy noted, “Stainless steel alone is also fine,” a sentiment with which I agree.

In the case of the KeepCup Brew Cork Reusable Coffee Cup, the glass cup encircled with a ring of cork proved to be exceptionally comfortable to hold and enjoyable to drink from. Dana remarked, “Glass is a great material for enjoying coffee, as it won’t retain or impart flavors,” adding, “But glass cups are generally less popular with Parlor’s team for busy (and sometimes clumsy) New Yorkers. Nobody wants to deal with broken glass on the subway!”

Cap/Lid Style

The travel coffee mugs I evaluated were equipped with a wide array of caps and lids, and preferences in this regard can vary greatly. Generally, I found that screw-on caps provided the most secure seal and effectively prevented leaks and spills. Conversely, press-on lids tended to be prone to leakage when tipped or shaken. When it came to tumblers, I particularly appreciated those that included reusable straws, as they made the process of drinking iced coffee feel more natural.

Before investing in a travel coffee mug, consider how you intend to use it. If you prefer iced coffee, a screw-on lid with a durable straw is likely the most suitable option. On the other hand, for hot coffee and tea, a screw-on lid with or without a spout will meet your needs effectively.

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