Reduce your plastic waste by investing in a travel coffee cup you can reuse again and again. We tested insulated, collapsible and leakproof mugs.
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We should all do our bit to move towards a greener lifestyle and that can start with something as simple as avoiding the use of disposable coffee cups.
Many assume these polyethylene-lined cups are recyclable. Technically, they are, but the reality is that the process of separating the waterproof section from the rest of the cup is intricate and expensive, so less than 1% a year are actually recycled.
With this in mind, many of our local and high street coffee shops are now offering incentives for you to bring your own cup each time.
Reusable coffee cups come in lots of shapes and sizes. You'll find plastic, glass and metal versions, ones that are insulated or collapsible, endless designs and colour options, plus various capacities to suit your preferred coffee style.
The best reusable coffee cups to buy
Stojo collapsible pocket cup
Best collapsible coffee cup
Pros: folds conveniently to fit inside any bag
This contemporary style of coffee cup solves any storage dilemmas as it conveniently pops up and down to fit inside your bag when not in use. Made from food-safe silicone (which admittedly takes a bit of getting used to in your hand), it comes with a plastic lid and sleeve that all fold inside each other as if by magic. Ideal for the coffee-drinking commuter who seeks a light cup when on the go.
Robert Dyas (£7.99)
Frank Green SmartCup
Best leakproof coffee cup
Pros: leakproof button releases drink, then seals tight
Not just a pretty face, the SmartCup has been cleverly engineered to avoid any leakage from the 'lip' section, where we found most leaks stemmed when testing the cups. To drink, simply push down the release button, sip away, then push the button back down for an airtight seal. The range from Frank Green comes in various sizes; we also tested the larger flask version, which was brilliant for all-day use. Available in a range of customisable colours, these lightweight cups are fun as well as functional.
T2 travel cup
Best insulated coffee cup
Pros: double-insulated wall
Have you ever had tea in a coffee cup and ended up burning your fingers on it because the tea was too hot? This cup from T2 has been designed with tea drinkers in mind. Not only does it insulate brilliantly – while keeping the outer shell safe to touch – it also comes with a built-in (removable) tea strainer, convenient for drinking a loose-leaf brew on the go. The lip locks into place with a reassuring click, giving you peace of mind that no leaks will occur en route.
Best knock-proof coffee cup
Best bits: grips onto any surface
If you're prone to spilling cups of tea or coffee, this ingenious design has been created specifically for you. The mug comes with a super-suction base that grips onto any surface, making it virtually impossible to knock it over (trust us, we tried!). Design aside, it is also great at keeping coffee warm and is a decent size, making it ideal for latte or Americano drinkers.
How we tested coffee cups
We tested a representative sample of reusable coffee cups and scored them against the following criteria:
Volume/capacity: a cup that holds the right size drink for you (be that a flat white, espresso or latte).
Weight: with some insulating materials being quite heavy, coffee cups can feel like a lot to carry around in your bag all day. We recommend a balance of efficient design but something that doesn't weigh you down too much.
Insulating properties: we looked for cups with the ability to keep coffee hot for a good amount of time. Temperatures were recorded at the start and the end of the testing to ensure this.
Aesthetics: with so many options out there, we looked for cups with a bit of character and style. Any additional features such as alternative 'lips' for drinking and buttons to seal in liquid were taken into consideration, too.
No-leaks: every cup was put through our 'leak test'; that is, filled with coffee, closed tightly shut, then turned over before being checked for leaks. Any cups that didn't pass the leak test were disqualified.
Ease of cleaning: old milk can leave quite a lingering smell inside your coffee cup so rigorous cleaning is essential. We checked for dishwasher-safe cups or those that could be easily cleaned by hand.
How we tested: we filled each cup with various coffee drinks and checked against the testing criteria. After passing the leak test, cups were reviewed based on their unique features.
Which coffee cup should I buy?
The options are endless, so it really does come down to your lifestyle. If you're always on the move, you may prefer something light and compact. Or perhaps you like to enjoy your coffee over a longer period of time, meaning insulation is key. There is no right or wrong type of cup to buy, but try to make sure you get one that is BPA-free – and one that doesn't leak is crucial.
This review was last updated in January 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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