With travel coffee mugs it’s a good rule of thumb that you get what you pay for.
Back in the early days of takeout coffee, where your beverage came in those cheap plastic cups without a lid, what you generally got was a lap or desktop covered in scalding liquid. Not an enjoyable experience.
Thankfully, travel mug tech has come on in leaps and bounds. Partly driven by eco considerations and partly by a desire to have a cup that actually kept your drink hot and doesn’t spill it. That means that we now have a wide choice of coffee cups to choose from. Trouble is that, bar some subtle differences on the exterior, they all look fairly similar.
So, how do you choose the best coffee mug for your bike commute?
Well, I’ve researched the top-performing travel companions on the market, and these are listed below. I’ve also pulled together a simple guide to the features that you need to look out for when you’re selecting the hot drink holder for you and your two-wheeled commuting. Let’s settle back, take a good sip of black gold, and take a look.
How to pick a coffee mug for bike commuting
The two most obvious features that we need to look for with travel mugs are (1) it stores our coffee safely, and (2) it keeps it hot for the length of our commute.
There are a wide range of considerations on top of this as well. It’s worth being aware of these (and deciding what’s important to you) so that you make certain that you pay for the quality of mug that you need, but don’t end paying for features that you don’t. Let’s look and see.
The best-insulated travel mugs have a double wall with vacuum insulation and constructed in stainless steel. These generally cost more though so it’s worth having a think about the length of time that you need your coffee to stay hot for. If you’ve finished your coffee before it’s hit the bottom of the mug, then stainless steel might not be necessary. However, if you need piping hot joe after an hour’s pedal, then you need all the vacuum-powered insulation you can afford.
Coffee spills are never good. They’re either embarrassing (dark stains on light-colored slacks) or expensive (a puddle over your laptop keyboard). So, a spill and leakproof seal on your travel mug is essential.
You’re leaking for a strong seal at two areas – where the cap fits on to the cup and also where the sip lid opens and closes. Two features that it’s worth paying extra for here are auto-sealing and lockable lids. Lockable lids are great for when you’re throwing your mug into a backpack with your day’s work clothes. Auto-sealing lids are fantastic if, like me, you have an unfortunate habit of dropping your mug (the lids flick shut and seal by themselves).
They often say that, “Bigger is better”, but that’s not the case with coffee mugs….
…oh, who am I trying to kid? For me, bigger is definitely better when it comes to the amount of freshly-filtered wake-up juice that I can fit in my cup. You might feel the same, but whether you’re a big cup or a small cup person, there’s a travel mug that’s the right size for you. Ranging in size from 10oz up to 20oz or more, there’s plenty of options.
A handle on your travel mug can be um, handy, if you have a habit of dropping cups. They can also be useful if you are multi-tasking and carrying lots of other things in your cup-carrying hand. On the flipside, they can get in the way if you want to stash your travel mug in a backpack or your bike’s bottle cage.
Easy to clean
The one thing that the original plastic coffee tumblers had going for them was that they were easy to clean. Not that we did, of course, in the bad old days of throwaway culture. When travel mugs were first introduced, they often had lids that were made from multiple components that were all fused together and impossible to open. Cue lots of YouTube videos of lids that had been prised apart to reveal mold and gunk that had no place on something you were going to drink from.
Times have changed and cups are not much easier to clean, with lids that can be taken apart simply. Many cups can also be put into the dishwasher.
Easy to open
Some travel mugs can have quite elaborate systems for opening the sip lid, which is not great when you’re in desperate need of a quick caffeine fix. Thankfully, many manufacturers have begun to produce cups that are easy to open and operate one-handed. Many of these are also easy-to-close with the auto sealing mechanism that ensures you’ll not spill a drop.