Ever been in this situation? You sit down in your car or office with your coffee cup, anxiously anticipating the first sip of a steaming hot morning beverage, only to find yourself drinking a room-temperature memory of what a hot cup of coffee should be. If you’re anything like me and prefer to avoid lukewarm coffee, I recommend getting yourself a coffee cup that’ll keep your coffee nice and hot.
As any hot coffee drinker knows, there are two ways in which you can enjoy your coffee. The first is at home, in the office, or anywhere with a table on which you can put your mug. On-the-go is your second option. Lukewarm coffee is unacceptable in both instances. Here’s what features define the best standard and travel coffee mugs that will keep your cup of joe piping hot.
What makes great standard coffee mug?
If you’ve ever browsed any souvenir shop in a theme park, you know very well how common coffee cups are. You get them as gifts from family members (Nice to meet you, #1 Dad!), as corporate swag, and as raffle prizes. These kinds of cups pop up all over grocery stores and big box stores around the holidays, and most of them should only be trusted as decorative pieces.
On that note, if you don’t want to go to extraordinary measures or the expense of buying an insulated mug, there are a couple of things you might consider. Both glass and ceramic are decent insulating materials. If you have either a narrow glass or ceramic cup, or a cup that is cone-shaped (with a body that is MUCH wider than the mouth of the cup), this will go a long way toward keeping your coffee hot. You can also preheat the cup. As your coffee is brewing, fill your mug with the hottest tap water you can and let it sit to preheat. This trick also works well with thermos bottles, both for hot and cold applications – obviously, you fill it with ice water if you want to keep cold beverages cold.
Coffee mugs can be made out of various materials. The most popular materials are glass, ceramic, pottery, stainless steel and plastic. The first four materials are impervious to the volatile oils found in coffee, and they will wash clean – if they stain, use a little baking soda on a sponge and your cup will look like new. I am always leery of plastic. Even if it is BPA free, that doesn’t mean that it won’t hold food odors or stains, so I usually steer clear of plastic.
For a standard cup of joe, you’re going to want a cup with a handle. When you want to enjoy a soothing, hot cup of coffee, a paper cup with a cardboard sleeve just isn’t going to cut it. For a truly exquisite coffee drinking experience, select a cup that feels comfortable in your hands.
Try to find a double-walled cup, as this can keep you from burning your hands if you accidentally forget to reach for the handle and instead wind up touching the cup itself. The two walls will also prevent heat from escaping as quickly as it does with a single-walled coffee cup.
Although it’s a bit difficult to keep coffee at its optimal scorching temperature without a lid, choosing a cup with insulation is sure to offset the short amount of time it takes for hot coffee to become coffee that could almost qualify as iced. For a truly useful cup that’ll keep your coffee at the temperature that you want, you’re going to want one with insulation to keep the heat in.
When you’re looking for the perfect mug to keep your coffee hot all day, be sure to consider the durability of your cup. If it’s made of a high-quality material like stainless steel, chances are it will be much harder to smash into pieces, leaving behind an unsightly mess—and a very sad coffee cup owner. A coffee cup that can withstand the torment of regular (or heavy) wear and tear is sure to be a coffee cup you won’t have to replace at the end of the season.
Most people are likely to prefer a coffee cup made of dishwasher-safe material. Likewise, a coffee cup with a wide opening is going to be easier to clean than one with a lid or complicated mechanisms. If cleaning your coffee cup with ease is high on your list of preferred specifications, choose a model that’s durable and wide enough to be cleaned thoroughly by hand or in the dishwasher.
Some Good Mugs
There are lots of good mugs to use for coffee when you aren’t traveling, and I’ll show you a selection of them here. The fact of the matter is, though, that if you really take your time with your cup of coffee, a lid is a key factor in keeping it hot for longer. If this is the case, you may want to go non-traditional and use a travel mug all the time.
The Avito Stainless Steel 14 Oz Double Walled Insulated Coffee Mugs with Lids
- BPA free tight fitting lids
- Spill Resistant
- 14 ounce capacity
- Made of food grade, brushed 18/8 stainless steel
- Double-walled design provides a vacuum seal which keeps hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold. The outer wall stays cool to the touch and will not sweat when holding an ice cold drink.
These mugs by Avito look good and feel good, both in your hands and on your lips. The manufacturer recommends hand washing only, as dishwashers can be tough on stainless steel. Although the lids are tight fitting and spill resistant, I wouldn’t take this mug on the road. For home or office use only.
Bodum Bistro Double-Walled Transparent 15 Ounce Coffee Mug
- Borosilicate glass
- Double-walled design helps keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold
- Sturdy glass handle
- Microwave safe
- Dishwasher Safe
- This mug comes in various sizes and shapes
Although this mug is made of glass, it is not as delicate as you think. Of course if you drop it, it will shatter, unlike stainless steel which will merely dent. These mugs are beautiful, with a sleek modern design. They are hand blown glass, and the price clearly reflects that! There are other less expensive glass models on the market, but Bodum is the gold standard.
Eco Vessel Double Barrel Insulated Beer / Coffee Mug
- Made of 18/8 stainless steel
- Two-layered construction for insulation
- Comes with a secure flip top lid
- BPA free
- Designed like a beer barrel (which will keep beer or a carbonated soft drink bubbly for longer)
- Wide mouth design makes for easy cleaning
Equipped with an easy to open slider lid and a large comfortable handle, this beer barrel of a cup is the largest volume insulated coffee cup that I’ve reviewed.
Ello Mesa 14 ounce Double Wall BPA Free Ceramic Tumbler with Lid
- All of the comfort of your favorite coffee mug in an on-the-go travel mug
- Spill-resistant slide lid allows you to drink directly from the ceramic
- Made from high-quality ceramic that keeps your beverage hotter for longer
- Great for home, work or on the go
- BPA, phthalates, PVC, lead and cadmium free
By far the prettiest of the double walled coffee cups, this one is included for those of you who really want a ceramic mug, rather than glass or stainless steel. Double wall ceramic mugs are pretty good at maintaining the temperature of your coffee, but they are not as efficient as glass or stainless steel.
What makes a good travel mug?
Commuting can be hard. If you’re looking for a surefire way to make it easier, pick a travel mug that can stick with you when you need it most. You’re also going to want a travel coffee cup that will keep your coffee hot for the duration of your commute and beyond.
Any good coffee cup will also be large enough to accommodate the hot, black ambrosia of the gods. Typically, a 20- or 30-ounce cup will be sufficient to keep you caffeinated during the day.
If you spend a lot of time commuting to work or school, you know how important it is to have a large travel mug that will keep your coffee hot. Cups that only keep coffee hot for half an hour or less aren’t going to cut it here. It isn’t fair to be forced to chug coffee just to enjoy it hot. To really savor your coffee ritual, you need a cup that’ll let you slowly sip at your own pace.
Once you’ve found a container large enough to sustain your caffeine addiction, it’s important that the cup fit in your cupholder. Nothing is worse than buying a coffee cup, only to realize that the base of the cup is a centimeter too thick to set down in the car.
Although it’s not necessary to invest in a coffee cup that looks like it’s from the future, a few newer features may be able to transform your everyday cup of joe into something a little more modern. A thermos-style travel mug with insulated walls will undoubtedly keep your coffee hotter for longer than a regular travel mug. If retaining heat is important to you, opt for a double-walled thermos to keep your brew as hot as possible.
Opting for a vacuum seal button that locks the spout open and closed will make your morning cup of coffee a little safer. As it reduces the chance of spilling the coffee everywhere, a reliable seal is a make-or-break feature for many. This means no more spilled coffee in your bag and all over your work papers. Or worse, on your corporate laptop.
Many low budget models are equipped with some sort of closing mechanism, and it can come in very handy for one-handed driving. Safety always comes first, but coffee should come right after that. All over your freshly pressed shirt clocks in second on the list of most awful places coffee could spill, right after the top spot—directly into your laptop’s keyboard.
I cannot stress this enough, but unless you have an actual, fully sealing vacuum bottle with you, do not under any circumstances use a travel cup that will not fit in your cup holder. In the event of a hard turn or an accident, a vacuum bottle will not cover you with scalding coffee. If you need that much joe to survive (and cannot drive without drinking it at the same time), use a small travel cup to get you to work, and a thermos bottle to keep you fortified during the day.
When all’s said and done, after you’ve enjoyed your hot cup of coffee throughout the day, it’s important that you can start fresh the next morning by having your cup primed and ready for another day of keeping your coffee piping hot. Try to select a cup that hits upon the recommended features, and is also dishwasher-safe. If you cannot find a cup that is adept at keeping your coffee hot while being dishwasher-safe, settling for easy-to-clean parts may be your second best option.
Undoubtedly, coffee makes the world go ‘round. Keep yours hot by owning a cup that guarantees a hot brew all day through.
Two good travel mugs and a vacuum bottle
Contigo Autoseal West Loop Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug with Easy-Clean Lid
- 16 Oz capacity
- Stainless steel construction
- Newly designed lid pivots open for easy cleaning
- Locking mechanism prevents the AUTOSEAL button from accidentally being pushed open
- Patented AUTOSEAL lid automatically seals between sips
- Double-wall vacuum insulated stainless steel keeps hot beverages hot for up to 5 hours and cold beverages cold for up to 12 hours
- Lid is BPA free and dishwasher safe
Contigo is the gold standard in on the go drinking vessels. Generously sized, comfortable in your had, efficient, and safe to use, this mug is my go-to when I’m on the road. You can even throw it into a briefcase or purse without fear of leakage (just make sure the locking mechanism is engaged). It comes in a myriad of colors, as well as a 20 ounce size, and is reasonably priced at under $15.00. The manufacturer recommends hand washing the body, although the lid is dishwasher safe. The only con here is that if you aren’t careful when you take a sip of your coffee after an hour or two, you could burn your tongue!
Simple Modern Tumbler Vacuum Insulated 20 Ounce Cruiser with Lid
- Double walled 18/8 Stainless steel construction
- 20 ounce capacity
- Powder coated for a colorful and rugged finish
- Fits must normal car cup holders
- Clear drinking lid
The powder coated exterior is great looking, and this tumbler comes in a myriad of colors. Simple modern boasts copper technology to better insulate your beverages. It also comes in a variety of sizes.
Thermos Stainless Steel King 40 Ounce Beverage Bottle
- Patented vacuum insulation for maximum temperature retention, hot or cold
- Keeps liquids at the desired temperature for 24 hours, hot or cold
- Stainless steel construction. Bottle stays cool to the touch and sweat proof
- Lid doubles as insulated serving cup
- Twist and pour functions allows you to pour without moving the stopper
- Generous 40 ounce capacity
This is for the real coffee junkies out there, for whom 16 or 20 ounces of coffee isn’t nearly enough! Generously sized, this bottle will keep you supplied all day. And it holds enough for you to share!
To learn about how to make cafe-quality coffee at home, check out this article on the best espresso makers for under $200.
We like our coffees hot and our beers frosty. Click here to read about the best beer mugs for the freezer, and keep your brews cold on game day.
Go retro and grind your coffee beans manually. Check out my recommendation for the best manual coffee grinder.