If you enjoy a toasty coffee on a chilly morning, investing in a reusable coffee cup or travel mug could save you up to £130 on your daily coffee habit, and benefit the environment too.
We’ve tested a range of popular reusable cups and travel mugs to find the best. Our user panel road-tested everything from high-street coffee chain cups from brands such as Pret and Starbucks, to rugged thermally insulated options from Contigo, Tefal and Thermos.
We assessed how well each cup retained heat and how spillproof it was, and got our user panel to rate how easy each mug was to grip, use and clean. Our top-scorer is a treat to use: it’s simple to clean by hand, and aces our spillage test, all while keeping your drink warm.
Others proved difficult to drink from and even harder to clean. Some were prone to flinging coffee around with just a slight knock, making them unsuitable for a busy commute.
See which models we recommend in our guide to the best reusable coffee cups and travel mugs.
Coffee shop discounts: save £130 by switching to a reusable cup
If you regularly buy hot drinks when out and about, a reusable cup is a sound investment. As awareness of the environmental impact of disposable cups has grown, more and more high street coffee chains have started to offer discounts if you bring in your own cup from home.
This is usually in the form of money-off deals, but some chains offer reward stamps that can earn you a free drink on a return visit.
The savings can really add up over time. Below you can see how much you’ll save at different chains over a year, based on buying five drinks a week.
Pret a Manger, Patisserie Valerie and Paul offer the biggest savings, while Caffé Nero’s double reward stamps scheme effectively means that every sixth drink you buy is free.
If you’re a regular at your local coffee shop, you can recoup the cost of buying a reusable cup more than four times over, even if you opt for one of the most expensive models around.
Even less-dedicated coffee shop fans can make savings fast. Our highest-scoring reusable cup will pay for itself after just 25 visits.
There’s no need to splash out unless you’ve got your heart set on a particular model, though, as we’ve uncovered great options for every budget.
Cut the cost of your coffee habit
If you fancy making yourself a hot drink at home and taking it with you, using your own coffee machine will save you even more. Some types of coffee machine cost more per drink than others, though. Capsules are the most expensive, while machines that use ground coffee are significantly cheaper per drink.
Find out how to choose the best for you, and how much different types of coffee machine cost versus going to a coffee shop, in our guide to buying the best coffee machine.
How to buy the best reusable coffee cup
If you’re shopping around for a reusable coffee cup or travel mug, there are a couple of questions to consider before reaching for your wallet:
Coffee cup or travel mug?
If you’re weighing up what type of cup to go for, think about how you plan on using it on a daily basis. If you’re looking for something that can survive a short journey, then a reusable coffee cup is the logical choice. Travel mugs are made of sturdier stuff. They are designed to be spillproof and can survive a bump or two, or a day rattling around in your bag if you need your hands free.
How easy is it to clean?
It will be hard to keep up your new reusable cup routine if you’re landed with one that’s time-consuming or fiddly to clean. Some are simple – you just take off the lid and chuck it in the dishwasher, or give it a quick wash by hand. But not all are dishwasher friendly, and some have intricate drinking mechanisms that create spaces for dirt to hide in.
How portable is it?
Generally, the larger the capacity, the harder it is to hold – or to stash in your bag. Some mugs do a better job than others of giving you a helping hand on this front. One of the reusable coffee cups we tested, the Stojo , has a collapsible design that lets you fold it up when you’ve finished drinking. Others have handles or rubber grips to make life easier.
To see which reusable coffee cups and travel mugs we recommend, see our guide to the best reusable coffee cups and travel mugs.
Feeling the heat? How cups compare for heat retention
Overall, we found that most cups could keep drinks relatively hot for up to an hour – enough time to tackle most commutes.
The temperature of the coffee inside the best travel cup we tested only dropped by 8℃ in 60 minutes. And while the best models for heat retention had double-wall insulation, some simpler cups also did surprisingly well.
The worst cup may have you starting all over again, though, as the temperature of our drink dropped by almost 40℃ in the same time period.
Making coffee at home? Use our guide to making the best espressos and cappuccinos.