Reusable cups and travel mugs have soared in popularity in recent years – and not without good reason.
Savvy coffee drinkers are not only helping to reduce the waste created by disposable cups, which are hard to recycle – they’re also earning coffee shop discounts that could save you more than £100 a year.
Now’s a great time to make the switch, too, as our recent test of reusable cups and travel mugs has uncovered four brilliant Best Buys, including our best-ever reusable coffee cup.
We put nine newcomers to the test, including models from popular brands such as Chilly’s, Corkcicle, S’well and Thermos, as well as some budget options, including a cheap £5 travel mug from Wilko.
Discover our top picks in our guide to the best reusable cups and travel mugs.
Five reasons to switch to reusable cups
Not yet convinced? Here’s why we love them:
1) They help to reduce plastic waste
Takeaway coffee cups have a thin plastic lining which makes them difficult to process for recycling. Some places, like Pret, have introduced recycling schemes for disposable cups, but you have to take the cup to a specific drop-off point. As a result, most of the disposable coffee cups we throw away end up in landfill.
Reusable coffee cups, on the other hand, are designed to last for years if cared for properly.
Most can be recycled when they eventually wear out, and some, such as the rCup, are even made of recycled materials. In the rCup’s case, used coffee cups – there’s even a Costa version made from recycled Costa cups.
Costa’s contactless cup – the coffee chain also sells a smart reusable cup you can pat with. Get our first impressions.
2) Save money at coffee shops
Many coffee shop chains, including Pret, Costa and Starbucks, offer discounts to customers who bring their own cup. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you could save more than £100 a year.
Below is a summary of the discounts on offer and the potential saving you could make annually, based on buying a standard coffee five times a week.
3) You don’t have to splash out to get a good one
We’ve tested reusable cups and travel mugs ranging in price from just £1 to more than £30, and have found some great-value options.
Even the pricier models will pay for themselves within a few months if you make use of the savings on offer in coffee stores. You could also bring your own drink from home, saving you even more.
Check our reusable cup and travel mug reviews to find the best one for your budget.
4) They can keep drinks hot for several hours
Paper takeaway cups don’t offer much in the way of insulation, so your drink is likely to turn cold quickly, particularly when it’s chilly outside.
Equally, they don’t offer much protection for your hands from the hot drink within.
Opting for a reusable cup should help your drink stay toasty for longer and keep your fingers from frying.
We measure how well each cup keeps in the heat and have found that some keep your drink piping hot, while others lose heat rapidly. Make sure you invest in a nicely insulating model by checking our reusable coffee cup reviews before you buy.
5) They can prevent leaks and spills
Many reusable cups have a sliding cover or lid to prevent liquid escaping if you’re dashing around, or being jostled on a busy commute. Our tests found that the effectiveness of the cover varies, though, with some offering better splash protection than others.
If you’re looking for something that you can carry in your bag without any risk of spills, you’re best off opting for a travel mug, as these are designed to be more leak-proof than reusable cups.
We’ve tested both, so browse our top travel mug and reusable cup picks to find your perfect match.
Best reusable water bottles – we’ve tried plastic, glass and steel options. See our top picks
How to save (even more) money on your coffee habit
Taking advantage of reusable cup incentives at coffee shops is a great way to cut costs. But buying a coffee machine and making your brew at home could give you even more substantial savings.
By swapping coffee shop espressos for homemade ones, you could save up to £6,000 over five years, based on buying a daily coffee during the week versus making it at home.
How much you could save depends on the type of coffee machine you buy, as some – such as pod machines – can be more expensive per cup than others.
Head to our coffee machine buying guide to find out more about traditional, bean-to-cup and pod coffee machine running costs and use our quick choosing quiz to help you find the perfect coffee machine for you.