Time to wake up, smell the coffee and reduce our plastic waste – here are our favourite tried and tested non-disposable coffee cups.
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Nespresso Touch travel mug
Best bits: Stylish cup that ticks all the boxes
We were impressed by how robust the Nespresso mug is. First, a tight lid made it one of the best in guarding against leaks and its insulating materials ensured that our coffee stayed piping hot throughout testing – and at the same time, no heat transferred to the cup's outer surface, so you won't burn your hands carrying it. It was fairly easy to clean, too. Quite simply a solid purchase.
Available from Nespresso (£20)
Best… collapsible coffee cup
Stojo collapsible pocket cup
Best bits: Folds down to conveniently 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.
Best… leakproof design
Frank Green SmartCup (12oz)
Best bits: 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 their larger flask version, which was brilliant for all-day use. Available in a range of colours, these lightweight cups are fun as well as functional.
Available from Frank Green (£20.99)
Lakeland stainless steel insulated coffee mug
Best bits: Does exactly what it says on the tin
If you need a simple mug that holds in the heat, travels well and is easy to drink from, this one does the job. Some people don't like the lip section on coffee cups, so this mug simply has a push-down button that allows you to drink from anywhere on the rim. Despite being stainless steel, we didn't feel any heat on the outside of the mug yet our drink stayed piping hot throughout testing. The mug isn't dishwasher-friendly, but you can easily wash it by hand.
Available from Lakeland (£12.99)
Best… for tea drinkers
Best bits: Double-insulated wall
Have you ever had tea inside 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… for spillers
Best bits: Grips onto any surface
If you're prone to spilling cups of tea or coffee, this ingenius 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.
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We should all be doing our bit to move towards a greener lifestyle and that can start with something as simple as avoiding the use of disposable coffee cups. A spotlight has recently been shone on these polyethylene-lined cups, which many assume to be 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% of them 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; Pret A Manger recently doubled their 25p discount to a whopping 50p to this end.
What 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.
What we looked for
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.
This review was last updated in March 2018. 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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