View Full Version : Coffee travel mug suggestions

01-17-2008, 06:46 AM
Since this site is so good and finding hidden gems I thought I'd throw out a post to look for a new travel mug for my coffee. It actually applies to TB bags because I may upgrade my work bag after the new 2008 products are out and I'd like to start carrying my mug in or on my bag. Oh, FWIW, I'm a coffee snob and always not only brew but roast my own so it's important for me to be able to transport back and forth from work.

One idea I'm thinking of trying again is the totally sealed thermos. The key would be a no spill design. Ideally I like to store liquids outside my bag so a spill is isolated from my laptop but many bag designs force you to carry the mug (or water) inside the main compartment. This really makes no spill a major priority.

After reading on Nalgene bottles and plastic I guess I also need to look into stainless steel. I tried this years ago but the top never seemed to seal totally and the steel seemed to alter the taste of the coffee. But maybe I exaggerated.

As always, looking for top quality products and if I can support a made in the USA business like TB then all the better.

01-17-2008, 09:15 AM
SIGG makes thermal bottles for coffee and such too!

01-17-2008, 12:16 PM
Click http://www.mysigg.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=22
to view SIGG thermal bottles.

01-18-2008, 03:02 PM
95% of the time I only drink coffee I make myself because I like it:
1) Drip coffee brewed with boiling water and a plastic cone.
2) Very strong.
3) Black.

I've been searching for a nice travel coffee mug/bottle for forever (I dislike the design of most of them) and I didn't even think to look and see if Sigg made any! Silly. Now I can retire to emergency-only usage the ugly thing I've been using.

01-18-2008, 09:35 PM
I make my own coffee every morning also. I'm kind of a coffee snob; and grind my own organic Kona beans daily (I know boards on nuts, and I love coffee; but I stop at roasting my own beans).
Anyway the absolute best travel mug I've ever used is the Contigo Extreme Insulated Mug with or without Handle (http://www.gocontigo.com/a_extreme_mug.htm) http://www.gocontigo.com/photography/extrememug_Lrg.jpg

I brew my coffee to 190 degrees (just under boiling). This mug keeps the coffee hot (above 150 degrees) for about 4 hours! It's crazy. It'll also keep ice with a cold liquid cold for almost 12 hours. I have two of these. One for coffee only, and the other for tea or cold liquids. I had ice water in the cold mug on the way to work one morning. I finished the water, and left the ice. 8 hours later, after work, the ice was mostly still in the mug on my way home, and the surface of the mug was cold to the touch. Admittedly the temperature outside was below 40 degrees that day; but I didn't expect ice to still exist in the mug after a complete day in a car in temperature that was above freezing.

Anyway, if you need a coffee mug that will fit on your Tom Bihn bag get the Contigo Extreme Insulated Mug with Handle (http://www.gocontigo.com/a_extreme_mug.htm). You won't be sorry.

01-21-2008, 12:39 PM
MikeL --

Wow, that's serious coffee making. Thanks for the travel mug suggestion: I'll definitely check it out.

I'm going to buy some Kona beans tomorrow morning and finally try them: I've heard endless good things about Kona coffee and I like that it's grown in Hawaii (right?). I'll grind the beans in my wooden grinder (http://www.espressozone.com/z-156bu.html).

01-21-2008, 01:00 PM
The Contigo looks interesting and it's something I can check out at a local store so I'll take a look. I'm surprised it keeps the coffee hot. I just tried an old Nissan stainless steel mug I bought years ago and was disappointed in how it performed. If the Contigo is spill proof too that might work.

Darcy - wooden grinder? Wow, impressive. I still use a Kitchen Aid burr grinder that I got as a gift years ago just because it's easy to use. I guess I'm not as big a snob as I thought since I never went to hand grinding yet.

I didn't think there would be such interest in roasting and grinding. I may start a separate thread for all things home roasting.

01-21-2008, 07:45 PM
I've heard endless good things about Kona coffee and I like that it's grown in Hawaii (right?).

Darcy, The beans are grown in Hawaii. I think you'll enjoy it.

The Contigo looks interesting and it's something I can check out at a local store so I'll take a look. I'm surprised it keeps the coffee hot. I just tried an old Nissan stainless steel mug I bought years ago and was disappointed in how it performed. If the Contigo is spill proof too that might work.

pretzelb, The vacuum seal on this thing is great! You can actually hear and feel the suction when you open the sipping section.

Be careful when purchasing. Contigo makes two types that look alike. One is foam insulated, and the other (the one I use) is vacuum insulated. If you live near a Costco (http://www.costco.com/Home.aspx), they have them in packs of two for $20. Usually one of the vacuum units cost $20 alone. I've seen the proper one at Target also. But I can attest to the fact that the foam filled one isn't very good.
I'd also call it spill proof. The heat of the liquid works to create the vacuum seal effect is spoke of above (kind of like sitting a mason jar in a boiling hot water bath to seal it). I haven't had a spill with it yet while it was either attached to the strap of my Super Ego or placed in the bottle sling on the side.

Coffee Drinkers Unite!

01-22-2008, 04:55 AM

I found one just like the one in the link you posted at Linen's and Things but I have to say it's not very good at insulation. The price was $20 for one (yikes) so I think I have the non-foam one.

I boiled some water and threw it in the mug before my jog this morning. I came back and then walked the dog. After maybe an hour it was still good but I think it was way too cool after only 1.5 hours. It certainly wasn't a pleasant temperature for drinking coffee. I might see if I can find a food thermometer to put some numbers to it but first impression is that it's not good at retaining heat.

I did turn it upside down in a bowl and when I came back no water leaked. However it's concerning they claim it's not spill proof (even though it appears to work that way). It would make throwing into a bag with electronics a bit scary.

The built in carabiner is a neat idea but I would worry about it flailing around while I walk and nailing me or something I walk by as I turn.

/edit - I just got a response from an email I sent them:

The foam insulated version that you have will keep coffee hot for about 2 hours – make sure the drinking hole is sealed in between sips since most of the heat escapes through there.

The vacuum version keeps coffee hot for 4 hours and we only sell that version at Costco stores at this time. They tend to go in and out of stock. You may also find some on Ebay – if they are vacuum they will always say so either on the website or on the packaging.

01-22-2008, 12:05 PM
I also purchased the foam one in error. then I was lucky enough to find the vacuum sealed version pretzelb. If you have access to a Costco, take a look. Like I said earlier. the vacuum one is amazing.

Good luck in your search!

01-23-2008, 01:24 PM
Great Thread!

My wife (who used to be a barista) and I believe in grinding whole beans JUST before brewing to get the maximum flavor and oil from our beans. And I LOVE Kona... glad to hear my tastes aren't isolated. BTW--we use the Cuisinart Grind & Brew Thermal (http://www.cuisinart.com/catalog/product.php?product_id=14&item_id=34&cat_id=3) (for convenience), and love the coffee it makes.

As for good thermal & portable coffee enjoyment... I can wholly recommend this one: http://www.oxo.com/OA_HTML/xxoxo_ibeCCtpOXOPrdDtl.jsp?section=10524&item=59719&minisite=10024&respid=53057

I find that by tempering it with hot water before adding the coffee... it really stays hot for hours. And you can carry this one with or without the cup/lid... so it can be one-handed easy action in the car, or completely spill-tight for putting in a bag or sliding into a bike-holder.


01-25-2008, 09:31 AM

You can buy kona coffee @ Trader Joe's ($19.95).

01-25-2008, 10:24 AM
I had a weak moment and purchased a REI Vacuum Infuser (http://www.rei.com/product/748285?vcat=REI_SEARCH) but I think I may take it back. It seems kind of small and I think I'd prefer more of a mug than a thermos. It does say it's vacuum sealed so it should hold the heat nicely. I have to admit the idea of bringing my own grounds with me on a trip sounded nice but I think packing a mug and grounds when trying to travel light is a not a good idea.

I hate impulse buys.

01-26-2008, 07:18 AM
Well the little REI Infuser does a great job with keeping the heat. I tested some hot water after 2 hours and it was still very hot. I tested again after leaving it overnight and you could just barely feel the warmth, which is pretty impressive. But it is only 350ml and something like the Contigo is more along the lines of 470ml and it has a handle. It's kind of like buying a bag that is under the TSA size restrictions. Sure you know you're safe from checking the bag but you still feel slightly ripped off because you could go with something bigger. Still debating if I keep this one.

One other thing that I don't think I mentioned before was clean-ability. With these stainless steel mugs you almost always seem to have a narrow opening that prevents you from getting in there with a sponge. You could get a long brush but from past experience I've had trouble keeping these things clean when I use them for coffee.

01-28-2008, 08:54 AM
One other thing that I don't think I mentioned before was clean-ability. With these stainless steel mugs you almost always seem to have a narrow opening that prevents you from getting in there with a sponge. You could get a long brush but from past experience I've had trouble keeping these things clean when I use them for coffee.

Pretzelb: I appreciate you bringing up the issue of cleaning, I often find this to be a chore with various thermos-styled bev containers. I've been tempted by the same REI model in the past and that was one of the concerns that stayed my decision on purchasing.

I did mention before, but since the OXO model is a 3-piece... the open container portion works much like a standard coffee-to-go mug, while the cup/cap makes for a functional thermos and allows you to have some secure versatility in your usage. This multi-function appeal keeps me coming back.

Thanks for the update!

01-31-2008, 06:49 AM
Click http://www.mysigg.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=22
to view SIGG thermal bottles.

Has anyone ever tried a SIGG for hot stuff? Sadly the just about miss my target size of 16oz except for a few options.

I could go with with this one that looks like a water bottle (http://www.mysigg.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=484) but the narrow opening would be a problem. I'd probably have to use a funnel to load my coffee.

I could go up to 24oz with this and get more of a thermos style (http://www.mysigg.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=323) but I had a hard time finding any images that showed the opening. I assume it's a normal thermos style but still I'd like to SEE it. Main issue here besides cost is that it's larger than what I think I need.

I also am not sure how long they keep things hot. They say double walled but the key I think is vacuum sealed. They also mention keeping hot up to 10 hours but I'm not sure.

01-31-2008, 07:59 AM
I've read 2 reviews now about the Anthracite line that will keep me from purchasing. Here are the blurbs:

I bought this at an Outdoor shop at a national park, where there was no choice. While it appeared well made and didn't leak after I adjusted the cap, there was some kind of black sealant inside on the weld seam. I have only put hot green tea (no sugar) in the bottle, nothing corrosive. Yet after washing it in hot water and Dawn detergent, and using a soft Bottle Brush, the sealant came off. Now the bottle has internal leaks and plain hot water will pour out brown after a couple of hours.

There apparently is no warranty on this product, and writing and emailing to many of the US distributors and the European headquarters have produced nothing in 3 months. I have replaced this with a Zojirushi SJ-SDE10 Tuff Sports Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle (may still have wrong product image on link) and couldn't be happier. The Zojirushi keeps my tea hotter longer and has a 5 year warranty if I need it.


It's made in CHINA. All the aluminum bottles have swiss made written on them, so I assumed that the thermos ones (steel) were too since there is nothing written on these bottles. I was looking at the box, and in small print at the bottom it says Made in China. I called the Sigg co. and they said that all their stainless steel products are made in China. They should write that on the bottles!

There are several other good reviews where folks really like the line, but it only takes me a couple of scathing experiences (especially that draw questions to material quality and construction methods) to put me off of a particular product.

Maybe someone else has personal experience with this bottle?


02-10-2011, 10:16 PM

It is a stainless steel travel mug from ThinkGeek. I doesn't say where it was made, but their CS is outstanding and would be surprised if they didn't tell you. They also have one with a built in digital photo frame, but is out of stock currently. Best of luck!

02-11-2011, 02:31 PM
I really like my Klean Kanteen Insulated vacuum thermos. I find that it if it is full and very hot when I fill it up, it stays hot for around 5 hours and warm for up to about 12. It has double-walled stainless construction, and the lid is stainless on the top so that the hot beverage has no contact with plastic. The threads are external and the top is sealed with a (silicone? o-ring). I have found the lid that comes with this bottle to be TOTALLY leak-proof. However, they sell an accessory lid called the Cafe Cap from which you can drink without removing the lid -- this lid is NOT leak-proof. What I do is transport my beverage with the standard lid, and then switch to the Cafe Cap when I'm at work, then switch back if there is any liquid left by the end of the day.

The stainless steel is 18/8 and has no liner, unlike some of the Sigg bottles. I use the bottle for coffee and tea and it's pretty easy to clean since the interior is all stainless and the interior corners are rounded. They are made in China but they say that they ensure sustainability and fair labor practices (there is information on their web site about this). Me and my SO each have one and we're both happy -- wouldn't hesitate to replace them if they were lost/broken. There are three sizes and we ended up with two of the medium (16 oz) though we considered getting one of the 20 oz.

Below is their web site, though you can buy the bottles at a number of retailers including REI and Amazon.

05-14-2011, 04:02 PM
I agree with yeti - I really like the Kleen Kanteen insulated thermos. I carry my coffee on my lap, inside my cafe bag (wheelchair user) so I have to make sure it's not going to leak anywhere. I tend to put it inside a gallon-sized plastic zipper bag (and I can re-use this about a million times before disposing of it (at this point filled with litter box scoopings), so I don't feel like I'm being terribly wasteful. It only has leaked once, and that was because the seal had broken. K.K. customer service mailed me a whole new lid, and it's never leaked again, but I'm so paranoid that I tend to stick it in the plastic bag anyway.

The best part of the K.K. is that it's so easy to clean! Most thermoses have enough plastic or moving parts of that that they retain some leftover smell or contaminant (since I drink milky coffee this is very important). Even their cafe lid is easy to clean, it comes apart in two pieces and hasn't retained any scent. Sometimes I switch things up and drink tea, if it's a fruity tea the leftover scent/flavor isn't pretty. Haven't had this problem w/the K.K.

IIRC, they're made in USA (Chico, CA).

05-17-2011, 01:26 AM
That Kleen Kanteen sounds great! I went through several drink holders from coffee shops and the lids almost immediately started leaking or just broke outright. I drink my coffee with soymilk and sugar, so I also need one that is easy to clean.