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5 Best Thermal Coffee Mugs 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

best thermal coffee mugs

People who are always on the go need their coffee to get each day started. If you have a commute to work or school, you may not have enough time to sit down, relax, and enjoy a fresh cup before you leave. That’s where thermal coffee mugs come in.

Travel mugs are more convenient for a single serving of coffee than a thermos. They’re much smaller and not as bulky to carry around, but there are so many on the market. Which one should you get? We have reviewed a bunch of them and compiled a list of our favorite five to share with you. We list some of the pros and cons of each to help you narrow down your search.


Comparison of Our Favorite Products

ImageProductDetails
Best Overall
Winner
YETI Rambler YETI Rambler
  • Tough stainless steel
  • Duracoat color
  • Full-loop triple grip handle
  • Best for Travel
    Second place
    Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop
  • Auto-sealed lid
  • 16-ounce capacity
  • Dishwasher safe lid
  • Best Value
    Third place
    Rubbermaid Rubbermaid
  • Durable stainless steel
  • One-piece leak-proof lid
  • Top-rack dishwasher safe
  • Thermos Stainless King Thermos Stainless King
  • Cool to the touch
  • Built-in tea hook
  • Durable stainless steel
  • Maars Townie Maars Townie
  • 12-ounce capacity
  • Extra thermal copper lining
  • Durable handle
  • The 5 Best Thermal Coffee-Mugs

    1. YETI Rambler 14 oz Thermal Mug – Best Overall

    YETI Rambler

    The YETI Rambler 14 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug is made of stainless steel that’s covered with Duracoat color. Duracoat is known to be tough, so your mug shouldn’t get scratched, peel, or fade.

    You’ll enjoy the desired temperature of your drink longer in this cup due to its double-wall vacuum insulation. Even better, the Yeti Rambler is designed not to sweat, so it won’t make a mess or get slippery. Another big plus for this thermal mug is that it’s dishwasher-safe, which is especially appealing if you’re allergic to hand-washing dishes.

    The full-loop triple grip handle is large and easy to hold. That’s important when traveling, because this mug is too big to fit into any standard cupholders. You’ll either have to hold it in your hands or with your legs. This mug is also on the heavy side, so it won’t work as well if you’re camping or hiking.

    Pros
    • Tough stainless steel
    • Duracoat color
    • Full-loop triple grip handle
    • Double-wall vacuum insulation
    • No-sweat design
    • Dishwasher safe
    Cons
    • Doesn’t fit into car cupholders
    • Heavy

    2. Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop – Best for Travel

    Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop (2034154)

    The Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop (2034154) is the best mug that we found for traveling. The lid seals automatically, making it easy to use with one hand. Just push in a button to open the seal on the mouthpiece, and let it go to reseal it.

    This 16-ounce mug is made of stainless steel with THERMALOCK Vacuum Insulation to keep your drink at the desired temperature as long as possible. It’s BPA-free and the lid is dishwasher-safe. Be sure to disassemble it as much as possible, and make sure that nothing’s stuck around the spring, before putting it in the dishwasher, though. Unfortunately, the cup must be washed by hand.

    Because of the unique lid, you can’t sip from this mug like a standard coffee cup. When you push the button to open the seal, there’s no way to control the amount of fluid that comes out. You can easily burn your tongue or spill your coffee if you aren’t careful.

    Sometimes we could taste the plastic of the lid in whatever drink we had. It doesn’t happen all the time, and there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to when it does. We also didn’t have this issue with every mug that we had.

    Pros
    • Auto-sealed lid
    • One-handed use
    • 16-ounce capacity
    • Stainless steel
    • THERMALOCK Vacuum Insulation
    • BPA-free
    • Dishwasher safe lid
    Cons
    • Lid hard to clean
    • Cup must be hand-washed
    • Can’t sip from it
    • Can taste the plastic from the lid

    3. Rubbermaid Thermal Coffee Bottle – Best Value

    Rubbermaid Leak Proof Flip Lid Thermal Bottle

    The Rubbermaid Leak Proof Flip Lid Thermal Bottle is made of durable stainless steel and has double-wall vacuum insulation to keep your liquids at the desired temperature. We did notice, though, that hot drinks become lukewarm in only about 30 to 45 minutes. This is better than a standard coffee cup, but not what you’d expect from an insulated mug.

    If you like to brew your coffee directly into your mug, you may be in luck. This mug is designed to fit under most single-serving coffee makers. It fits in standard car cupholders, too. For additional convenience, the mug and its lid are safe to wash in the top rack of your dishwasher.

    However, it has no handle, so you don’t always get the best grip on it. Most important, though, is the one-piece leak-proof lid. Unfortunately, it’s hard to snap open and shut and can’t be done with one hand. The lid’s locking tab also cracks pretty easily. When it does, you lose the vacuum seal and your drink temperatures won’t be maintained.

    Pros
    • Durable stainless steel
    • Double-wall vacuum insulation
    • Fits most single-serving coffee makers/car cupholders
    • Top-rack dishwasher safe
    • One-piece leak-proof lid
    Cons
    • Doesn’t keep drinks hot too long
    • No handle
    • Flip lid hard to open and close
    • Snap feature cracks

    4. Thermos Stainless King Travel Mug

    Thermos Stainless King 16 Ounce Travel Mug

    The Thermos Stainless King 16 Ounce Travel Mug is made of durable stainless steel, and has Thermos brand vacuum insulation to keep your beverages at the right temperature. No matter how hot your drink is, the outside of this mug remains cool to the touch. It’s also sweatproof, so it doesn’t get damp.

    If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll love this mug. It has a hook on the underside of the lid that holds your tea bag for you. This makes it very convenient to get the tea bag out without having to dig it out with your fingers.

    We did find a couple of things to be wary of. The lid is hard to fully clean, and there are problems with the seal separating from the metal of the lid. When you call customer support about the problem, they are not very supportive. They also informed us that the lid, the only piece of this mug with moving parts, is not covered by the warranty.

    The exterior paint also flakes off, causing a mess, and the open and close labels wear off after a while, making it hard to tell if your lid is open. These things aren’t dealbreakers, but they are significant enough to mention.

    Pros
    • Durable stainless steel
    • Thermos vacuum insulation
    • Cool to the touch
    • Sweatproof
    • Built-in tea hook
    Cons
    • Lid hard to clean
    • Seal separates from metal of lid
    • Poor customer service
    • Lid not covered by warranty
    • Open/Close labels wear off
    • Exterior paint flakes off

    5. Maars Townie Thermal Coffee Mug

    Maars Townie Insulated Coffee Mug

    The Maars Townie Insulated Coffee Mug is a 12-ounce mug that’s made of durable stainless steel, with double-walled vacuum insulation. The insulation, combined with an extra thermal copper lining, is supposed to help drinks maintain their temperatures. We say “supposed to” because it doesn’t keep hot drinks hot for very long.

    The lid is not spill-proof. It has an open hole you drink through that remains open all the time. There isn’t a cover to close it, so it can spill easily, and heat transfers in and out of that hole to affect the liquid’s temperature. The lid also snaps firmly into place, but the seal is so tight that it’s hard to reopen. There’s also a sturdy but less comfortable handle.

    It seems that these thermal mugs don’t go through a good quality control system before leaving the plant. There were sharp edges and bubbles in a couple of our cups. They didn’t really affect the use of the cup; they just weren’t nice-looking like you’d expect any new product to be. Be aware that this product is hand-wash only.

    Pros
    • 12-ounce capacity
    • Stainless steel
    • Double-walled vacuum insulation
    • Extra thermal copper lining
    • Durable handle
    Cons
    • Doesn’t keep hot drinks hot
    • Lid isn’t spill-proof
    • Lid is hard to remove
    • Uncomfortable handle
    • Poor quality control
    • Not dishwasher safe

    Buying Guide:

    Everyone wants to get quality products that will do their jobs for a lifetime. To get a good insulated coffee mug, you need to know what features are essential before starting your search.

    What should you look for in a travel mug?

    1. Temperature Retention and Insulation

    Heat retention tells you how well the cup will keep hot liquids hot, while cold retention tells you how long the mug will keep cold fluids cold. The better your mug’s insulation is, the longer it will retain the temperature of its contents. Double-walled vacuum insulation is best.

    2. Materials 

    The material the cup is made from determines its durability and lifespan. Stainless steel mugs are the best on the market.

    3. Lids

    The lid on your thermal coffee mug should be leak-proof and spill-proof to avoid any mishaps. Some also offer insulation in the lid. That is an excellent addition, as it won’t let heat dissipate through the lid.

    What else should you consider?

    1. Size

    Some people with single-serving coffee makers prefer cups that fit them, so they don’t have to brew coffee and then transfer it to an insulated mug. If this is how you want to use your cup, measure the space you have so you don’t get a mug that’s too tall.

    Purchase a mug that’s large enough to hold the amount of coffee you drink. Buying one that’s too big will take up extra space, while a too-small mug may be frustrating.

    A final size consideration is whether your mug will fit in your cupholders. If you’re driving, you don’t need to be worrying about holding your cup of coffee or trying to keep it from tipping between your legs. The safest place for your hot drinks is in a cupholder. Make sure that the mug you’re looking at will fit the ones in your vehicle.

    2. Flavor Transfer

    Some materials can absorb flavors, especially something as strong as coffee. Plastic is known for doing this. If you want your drinks to taste like they’re supposed to, we recommend a stainless steel cup with a good lining.

    4. Microwave Use

    If you need to throw your coffee in the microwave for a quick warm-up, you need to know if the mug is microwave safe. Not all are, and nothing metallic can be put into a microwave.

    5. Cupholders

    If you’re driving, you don’t need to be worrying about holding your cup of coffee or trying to keep it from tipping between your legs. The safest place for your hot drinks is in a cupholder. Make sure that the mug you’re looking at will fit the ones in your vehicle.

    6. Pre-Heating and Pre-Cooling

    To maximize the temperature retention, some cups require you to pre-heat or pre-cool them before use. You can do this by filling the mug with hot or cold water and letting it sit for a few minutes. This will take more time, though you can let it sit while you’re brewing your coffee.

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    Conclusion

    Now you have a list of features to look for in a thermal coffee mug, and we have given you a few other things to consider. Have another look at the five mugs we’ve chosen with you in mind. Our top pick is the YETI Rambler 14 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug. If you travel a lot, we recommend the Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop (2034154). And if value is your priority, take a look at the affordable Rubbermaid Leak Proof Flip Lid Thermal Bottle.

    Hopefully, you have gained enough knowledge to determine which insulated travel mug is best for you. Now all you have to do is buy it and enjoy!

    SEE ALSO: The Best Coffee Thermoses of 2020

    Kate MacDonnell

    Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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