Review: The 5 Best Reusable Coffee Mugs for Your Handcrafted Espresso
We tested cups from Ecoffee, Hydro Flask, KeepCup, Klean Kanteen and JOCO
If you visit a coffee shop more than once a month, you need a reusable mug. It’s as simple as that. They’re less wasteful (as long as you use them more than 20-100 times), they keep your drink hotter (or colder!) and you don’t need one of those little cardboard sleeves to not burn your hand like Harry in Home Alone. Oh, and they’ll gain you points in one of the most important relationships in your life — the one with your barista.
How do we know this? We just spent the last three weeks testing five of the best reusable coffee mugs on the market. But unlike other rankings you’ll see out there, we’re talking about a very specific kind of to-go cup: one for handcrafted espresso drinks.
Why are people not talking about the difference? If one wanted to simply dump an entire pot of coffee into a container and keep it warm all day, we’d use the trusty Stanley thermoses that previous generations used on the farm and in the factory. But today’s coffee drinkers aren’t drinking straight black coffee. We’re drinking flat whites. We’re drinking oat milk lattes. We’re drinking cocktail-level espresso with vanilla, coriander bitters and black Hawaiian sea salt (that’s a real recipe from this test).
After many, many $6 lattes, we’ve found a winner. But it’s not as simple as that. Below, find to-go mugs from KeepCup, Klean Kanteen, JOCO, Ecoffee and Hydro Flask, each categorized by the type of coffee drinker it suits best.
Best Overall: Hydro Flask 12 oz Coffee Mug
Unprompted barista comment: “I like your mug.”
Hydro Flask already won me over on the water-bottle front, and this mug has everything I could ask for in a coffee mug (and plenty I wouldn’t have thought to ask). The “soft touch finish,” as the company calls it, does feel noticeably better. The stainless steel cup and insulated lid are easy to clean. It doesn’t make your drink taste like plastic. I love the handle for stability (but some may see that as a downside if you need to fit it in your car cupholder). Also, my partner borrowed it for a day and said, after keeping it on her desk for a long time, that she almost burned her mouth because her latte was “still crazy hot” (direct quote). Plus, you can use it for iced drinks, too! Is it the most expensive option on this list? Yes. Will you regret the expense? Sorry, can’t hear you over the espresso machine.
Most Popular/Least Likely to Spill: KeepCup Brew 12oz
Only this KeepCup and the Ecoffee cup fully seal on the lid, so if you’re worried about milk and espresso sloshing out in your car or on your jacket while running to work because you’re late, go with one of these two. I’d venture to say that KeepCup is the most popular reusable mug at independent coffee shops; I saw more of them during testing than any other type. While the company offers a variety of models, this blown tempered glass-and-cork version is both sophisticated and practical, keeping the cup cool to the touch and the barista compliments coming. Also, it makes for good coffee photos because you have the most transparent space to see that espresso magic swirling around.
Most Durable: Klean Kanteen 8oz Insulated Tumbler
Unprompted barista comment: “That’s a cute little cup.”
Just like my barista, I love this cute little cup, partially because I feel like it could withstand me hucking it at a brick wall (can’t say that for the glass or bamboo options). So if you’re a klutz, Klean Kanteen is going to be your best friend. They have larger coffee options available too, but this is the perfect size for a flat white or cortado. (Down with the venti coffee!) The bottom is also noticeably sturdier, so there’s less of a chance of you accidentally knocking it over during your coffee meetings. But although it feels small enough to throw in your bag, the top doesn’t fully seal, so it’s not ideal for travel.
Most Sustainable: Ecoffee Cup 14oz
While the rest of these mugs are made out of stainless steel and glass, Ecoffee’s cups are made out of sustainably harvested bamboo (with the lids and sleeves made of silicone). I previously bought one three years ago and never had a problem with the materials affecting the taste of my coffee. The big bonus of these used to be that they were biodegradable, but because of new UK regulations (it must biodegrade 90% in six months) they can no longer claim that. Still, if it ever cracks (like my old one, after two years), you can break it down, boil it, then throw the cup in your compost pile. The other downside is that these ship from the UK, which is obviously not eco-friendly. Until they set up shop stateside, you’ll be better off calling around to your local eco-friendly, package-free store to see if they have any in stock.
Most Instagrammable: JOCO 12oz Cup
Unprompted barista comment: “Oh I’ve seen a lot of people with these — wait, is this different?” [She thought it was the KeepCup.]
This glass-and-silicone cup is perfect for people who like everything they own to have little hidden design details. Take a sip from the lid and you’ll see a teeny tiny “JOCO” logo printed on the lip. On the other side, you’ll see an even tinier “I’m hot!” printed in raised letters next to the lid’s heat escape. Unfortunately, this one was the hottest to the touch when I picked it up from the coffee-shop counter, and it tasted the most like plastic when I drank from the lid, even after washing it with soap and water. In other words, do it for the ‘gram!
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