We’ve all had our fingers burned (sometimes literally) by reusable coffee cups that don’t measure up. And while we want to protect the planet, we’d also like our coffees to remain warm and not leak all over our bag on the way to work.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying a cup, including: price, size, material and colour, to name but a few. So we road tested a selection of the most popular makes on the market, as well as some lesser-known options, to help you make the right choice for you.
KeepCup Brew Cork edition, KeepCup, £19
Sophie Gallagher, Life reporter
I was an early adopter of the commute flask back in 2014 (when it was nerdy not cool) but without a dishwasher I found it hard to wash properly by hand and eventually gave up. So it was about time I got back on the wagon.
I’ve been trying out the small KeepCup cork edition, which holds 227ml – what turns out to be a decent amount of tea for a 30 minute journey. Any more and the risk of spilling it everywhere feels too much. I love the way it looks – that glass is Instagrammable as heck – and found it very easy to drink from. Although my partner kept trying to hold the glass cup instead of the cork padding and burned his fingers – so it’s not idiot proof.
I’ve heard KeepCups have been known to leak but I didn’t find that, although I was really careful and washed it out in the sink at work and dried it before putting it back in my bag, which could possibly get annoying longer term.
Tea from a flask can sometimes starts to absorb the taste of the vessel after a while, too, which is rank. I didn’t get that from this, and the glass was really easy to wash by hand. Bonus points.
Overall, would definitely keep using this, and for less than £20 it feels like a good affordable option.
Stojo Collapsible Cup Blue, Waitrose, £10
Brogan Driscoll, editor of HuffPost Finds
As someone who has a stupidly small handbag that I use on the weekends, I still find myself buying coffees in disposable coffee cups rather than lugging a bulky coffee cup around (sorry planet). The main appeal of the Stojo is that it’s collapsible and, when folded, fits snugly away into the smallest spaces (even my coat pocket), giving me no excuse to contribute to landfill. It’s even made from food safe, recyclable materials – so I feel very smug.
I spend my weekend demonstrating to friends how the BPA-free silicone base folds up into the white plastic lid (the detachable white plastic sleeve tucks nicely inside). So not only is it good for the planet, but a source of light entertainment.
It doesn’t leak and keeps my hot drink at a decent temperature for the best part of an hour. Any longer and it starts to get a bit tepid. It’s a decent size at 355 ml and is dishwasher and microwave safe. And at just a tenner, this is a bargain.
A word of warning: the silicone gets quite hot, so make sure you grip the plastic sleeve to protect your fingers – perhaps not the best option around kids. Would highly recommend, particularly for people with small bags and no small children.
rCUP Leakproof Travel Cup Grey/Blue, Waitrose, £12
Francesca Syrett, HuffPost International
As someone who wants to do my bit for the planet, I’m drawn by the fact that this cup is made from used cups. Not only am I stopping more waste being created by using a reusable, but am repurposing previously-used cups destined for landfill. But once I open the packaging and read the leaflet, I learn it’s only 40% of the cup I can be smug about – the inside is still made from virgin plastic, which feels a little misleading.
My hot tea warms the cup slightly without being too hot, making it nice to hold my freezing hands against. That said, it is a little on the slippery side and I wish there was something else to grip on. I like the size (it’s massive at 340ml) and price, but as someone who likes their hot drinks boiling, it doesn’t keep my tea hot enough for my hour commute.
This would be good for someone who has a shorter travel time or likes their drinks cooler.
Happier, ecoffee cup, £10.95
Natasha Hinde, Life reporter
This doesn’t feel like your average coffee cup. Made from natural fibre, corn starch and resin, it’s almost like strong cardboard – but retains hot liquids like a boss. The lid is made with matte, food-grade silicone which is latex-free and has a little stopper that prevents liquid from spurting out of the area you drink from which, in my experience, is the area which causes the most damage when you’re walking along and hot liquid escapes onto your hand.
The one letdown is that even after giving it a good wash before using it, it does make your tea taste different. With coffee, there’s a possibility the flavour would manage to overpower the slightly cardboard-y taste, but with tea, that’s not really the case. I still drank the lot though.
Major redeeming points are the funky pattern (a distraction from the dismal weather outside), and the sleeve that’s made from the same material as the lid, which helps you from burning your mitts when you’re carrying it about. It’s big at 400ml and is dishwasher friendly, which appeals to my slovenly side. It’s also quite good value, too.
Does it retain heat though? One hour after making my cuppa, the tea was tepid so I wouldn’t advise leaving it too long on your commute.
Contigo West Loop Bottle, Robert Dyas, £24.99
Lucy Pasha-Robinson, deputy editor for Blogs
Unlike the vast array of colourful coffee cups you can now find on the high street, the Contigo thermos would be best described as utilitarian – black metal, with grey and chrome detailing. It’s not sparking the level of joy I was hoping for.
But as we know, you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I’m glad I gave this cup a chance because it does work hard. It’s completely leakproof, both where the lid screws on and the spout, due to a handy locking mechanism. I chucked it in my handbag in the morning filled with coffee and by the time I got to work and settled in to drink it an hour later, there had been no spills and the coffee was still piping hot.
While the lid of this thermos is dishwasher proof which is a nice perk, the cup part isn’t. But I’d rather it was that way round, especially as the cup is sleek with no hidden nooks, making it easy to clean.
While I think the quality of this flask is gold standard, I would feel uncomfortable about paying £25 for a coffee cup. It just feels quite steep. That being said, you get what you pay for and this does feel like it’s designed to last. Overall, I’d say this is a really useful cup for those who don’t mind prioritising substance over style.
Original Reusable Cup, Frank Green, £19.99
Amy Packham, assistant editor for Life
I’m a big fan of how this cup looks – I love the colour, I love the shape, and I love the size. It’s small, which fits my coffee of choice: a flat white.
The cup doesn’t leak, at all, which is all down to the design. You press the circle button on the top down to open a small hole on the lid, click it back up again and the hole’s closed. It takes some getting used to because it’s not angled towards your mouth like most coffee cups, but I manage.
It does what it says on the tin, it keeps drinks hot enough for your commute or for a weekend walk. When I poured the white coffee at 7.15am, it was still warm enough at 8.15am when I arrived at work. The downside, I guess, is that the internal mechanism is best washed in the dishwasher, so if you don’t have one it could be a pain. The company also suggests washing with “warm and soapy water” which I tried once, but it still smelt of coffee after washing.
The final issue is price. At £20 it is more expensive than other coffee cups out there but I know I’ll get years of use out of it.
Huskup Reusable Eco Cup in pebbles, Lakeland, £9.99
Louise Whitbread, Life reporter
This is made from rice husk rather than plastic but there isn’t a notable difference in texture or durability and it’s able to hold 400ml of coffee, which is great considering my beverage of choice is a double shot latte (gimme that caffeine hit). It comes with a silicone sleeve which works well to stop you burning your hands and the silicone lid doesn’t have an unpleasant taste.
There’s no spillage as I commute to work on the tube (despite the fact we’re packed in like sardines), but the cup does leak a little when I used it in the car going over speed bumps. All of that is totally manageable, until I pop it in my bag after use and the lack of a seal means the last coffee dregs seep out when it’s not standing upright.
My coffee stayed hot throughout my journey, which is just over 40 minutes long (10 of those consist of a walk in the freezing cold). It looks brand new after a cycle in the dishwasher, plus it’s microwave friendly. You can also wash it by hand. I don’t think it’s unreasonably priced and the biodegradable packaging is a nice bonus. Looks wise, it’s not particularly chic but considering how well it kept my drink warm and how easy it was to use and clean, I can deal with that.
While I do think this is a great cup, if you’re happy with a plastic reusable coffee cup, there are much cheaper options available if you’re not prepared to spend over a tenner.
‘The Panda’ GoReusable ECO CUP, GoReusable, £10.99
Nancy Groves, Life editor
I’m a recent tea to coffee convert. Blame Australia, land of the flat white – and also of the disposable coffee cup. My first was a KeepCup and now I have a sleek Frank Green number (both of them Aussie brands), so I was intrigued to test this UK make.
The ECO CUP touts its green credentials – inspired by ‘Blue Planet II’, it’s made of recycled Bamboo from chopsticks. That’ll explain the cute panda logo. The bamboo has a matte look and grip, almost like thick cardboard, and a less plasticky taste than most, keeping my coffee a reasonable temperature for my 40 minute commute. Big ticks. I’m less keen on the silicon lid, though, which doesn’t feel 100% secure and attracts fluff in my bag. The white cup also smudges easily, though it’s washable (and available in other colours).
At half the price of my Frank Green, it’s a British bargain, but also twice as big (400ml) as it needs to be for my flat white so probably better suited to latte lovers. And because it looks like a regular disposable mug from a distance, you won’t get that smug feeling on your commute. I know I’m not the only one.
Thermos ThermoCafe Zest travel mug, Robert Dyas, £7.99
Stephanie Bossett, video producer
I’m the kind of person that will arrive three hours early at the airport, but I’ll always leave five minutes late for my train, so finding a coffee cup I can run with is pretty important.
The ThermoCafé cup is not leak-proof, but it does have a handle, making it possible to light jog without getting coffee all over yourself. And it means you can hold other things with that hand, like the glove I’m definitely going to leave behind on the train.
The cup kept my coffee hot for at least 20 minutes, which covered my walk (sprint) to the station, and then some. I didn’t get coffee all over myself when I drank from it (bonus) and although you can’t chuck it in the dishwasher, it takes mere seconds to clean. Would run in panic to the station with it again – and at £7.99 it’s pretty good value.
We all work hard to earn our money – so it shouldn’t feel like hard work to spend it well. At HuffPost Finds we’ll help you find the best stuff that deserves your cash, from the ultimate lipstick to a durable iron to replace the one that broke (RIP). All our choices are completely independent but we may earn a small commission if you click a link and make a purchase.