Coffee, Tea & Beverages, Drink Up

The 6 Best Travel Coffee Mugs to Ditch Single-Use Cups for Good


By Lisa Elaine Held

Single-use packaging is a “waste” in so many ways. It piles up in landfills, where it contributes to the release of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s much more potent than carbon dioxide. And you’ve probably heard the shocking numbers about plastic pollution in the oceans.

But where it ends up is only part of the problem—lots of resources go into the creation of each plastic salad bowl and coffee cup so that you can you use it once. Yeah, just think about all of the fossil fuels that are burned just so you can chug a bottle of water in two minutes and then toss it in the trash. (Recycling, by the way, while better, also requires energy.)

So, you can probably tell I’m in favor of eliminating as much single-use packaging from our day-to-day lives as possible. I’ve tried to focus on eating meals at home (or eating in instead of taking out at restaurants and cafes). I haven’t walked out the front door without my stainless steel water bottle or packable, reusable grocery bag in years, and I recently added bamboo utensils and a metal straw to that list. (While it sounds like a lot, I carry a very small backpack as a city dweller that also holds my laptop and all kinds of other stuff, and it’s totally doable. If you’re a driver, you can always leave things in the car.)

RELATED: How My Low-Waste Lifestyle Helps Me Eat Healthier

But one thing that was tripping me up was coffee. I make it at home a lot but I’m also running around a lot and in situations where I want to grab a cup. My iced coffee came in a plastic cup with a plastic straw; my hot coffee came in a cardboard cup with a lining that makes it non-recyclable (and often requires EXTRA packaging in the form of a sleeve to keep you from burning your hand).

So, I decided it was time to finally add a travel coffee mug to my belongings—one that would work for the way I live, work, and drink up. Ready to follow my lead? I tested a ton of options so that you can find the one that works for your unique Nutritious Life.

6 Travel Coffee Mugs for All Kinds of Drinkers

  • For the Backpack Commuter

    My water bottle of choice is Swell’s Teakwood Bottle, so when I tried the Swell Teakwood Commuter for coffee, it was like having twin beverages. I love this one for the sleek look, and it definitely regulates temperature well. And lid seals well enough that you can finish a coffee, clip it closed, and throw it in your backpack without worrying about the dregs soaking your laptop.

    (Photo: Swell)

  • For the Person Who Never Finishes Coffee

    On the other hand, if you’re someone who wants to be able to put your coffee in your bag while you’re still drinking it, because you often can’t finish it or you just like to save some for later, Contigo’s Snapseal and Autoseal mugs are the way to go. They are generally larger and the lock-shut technology means they’re totally spill-proof.

    (Photo: Contigo)

  • For the Mug Lover

    I have no idea why, but there’s something about the feel of an actual mug in my hand that is really appealing to me. The way it fits in my palm with the handle just makes me happy. Which is why after all my testing I ended up using Hydro Flask’s 12-ounce Coffee Mug the most. It comes in great colors and keeps drinks cold or hot for as long as you need them to be. The lid doesn’t seal so you have to finish it if you’re going to throw it in a bag. Most important caveat: If you’re a coffee-in-the-car person: it was too fat to fit in the cup holder in my car.

    (Photo: Hydro Flask)

  • For the Outdoorsy Type

    When you hold a Klean Kanteen Insulated TKWide, you just feel outdoorsy. It’s compact, durable, and the seal is super secure. It’s also the only one with a little handle on top, which doesn’t seem like something you’d use day-to-day, but maybe could come in handy to attach to a backpack while hiking, naturally.

    (Photo: Klean Kanteen)

  • For the Trendsetter

    I confess, I never actually got around to testing the KeepCup Brew, but I included it here for one important reason. Everyone’s using it! If you are the kind of person that wants to seem in-the-know at a super cool Brooklyn coffee shop, this is the one for you. In fact, many shops are branding the Cork Edition with their logo, so you may even be able to pick one up in store.

    (Photo: KeepCup)

  • For the Espresso Drinker

    If you like your coffee and your design compact, Miir’s eight-ounce Tumbler is the way to go. It’s sleek, minimalist, and tiny—perfect for espresso, a short Americano, a cappuccino, and other small-but-strong approaches to java.

    (Photo: Miir)

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