The purpose of a coffee travel mug is to keep your drink warm whilst you are out and make it easy to drink it, unlike with a normal flask which typically has a separate cup. If you are shopping for one, here are some tips on what features and benefits you should look for in the mug’s technical specifications and the reviews of other users.
You want the coffee in the mug to remain warm for as long as possible. Vacuum insulated mugs will normally provide the longest times. Check the mug’s specifications to see how long it will keep drinks warm for, then, if possible, check any reviews to see if they can confirm this. A mug that states it will keep your coffee warm for 5 hours but which according to users will only keep it warm for 2 is no good. Even though you may be planning to consume the drink long before it should cool, the effects of poor insulation will be detectable as the drink cools more quickly. A drink that may still be piping hot in a mug with better quality insulation after an hour may only be warm in one that isn’t as good.
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The mug should not transmit the temperature of the contents to the outside of the mug. This is again down to the quality of the insulation. A cheaper mug, especially if it is made from metal, could end up with the outside becoming too hot to touch, or forming condensation if the contents are cool. Neither of these are ideal, and should be avoided.
The mug needs to be easy to clean, especially internally. What you are putting in the mug will be something you will later be putting inside your body, so you don’t want lingering dirt to contaminate your drink and provide a breeding ground for bacteria. A smooth surface to the outside will also make cleaning it easier. Some mugs are not dishwasher safe, so take this into consideration when buying one.
You want your mug to be as light as possible. This a “travel” mug, so you will be carting it around, and potentially carrying it. A heavy mug will start to become uncomfortable to transport much more quickly than a lighter one.
The mug also needs to be strong and damage resistant. Stainless steel and aluminium mugs, whilst strong, may sometimes scratch easily. This doesn’t harm the operation of the mug but can decrease its aesthetics.
The lid needs to be secure, as the mug may contain a hot, and possible extremely hot, beverage. You do not want it to come loose, spilling the beverage. Even a cold drink can easily damage electronics or stain clothes; a hot one could burn skin, sometimes severely if it is hot enough.
Less dramatic than the lid coming off are leaks. The seal on your travel mug should be leak proof. A persistent leak may not cause as much initial damage as the lid becoming detached from the mug, but it can still damage whatever the mug is next to. This is especially important if the mug is going to be in situations where it isn’t always the right side up.
One handed operation, where the mug opening can be operated with the same hand as the one holding the drink, is also useful for drinking, as it keeps your other hand free.
The size of the drinking aperture, whilst not as important for coffee or similar beverages, should be considered if you are going to be using your mug for other liquids; for example, soup, especially those that are thick or contain comparatively large pieces of food.
These are some things to take into consideration when looking to buy a travel coffee mug. Check the mug’s specifications, and check the customer reviews to make sure they confirm these. The occasional poor review is only to be expected no matter how good a product is; having a majority of poor reviews means that it should be avoided.