Coffee On-The-Go: What’s a Yes & What’s a No When it Comes to Travel Coffee Mugs

10 min read OCT 26, 2022

You never leave home without it.

Whether it’s a mundane trip to the grocery store, your turn to carpool the kids to football practice, the long vehicular school drop off line, weekday treks into the office, or peaceful weekends spent in nature on a hiking trail…

…what’s the one thing you simply can’t leave home without? You guessed it, coffee!

Sure, we all carry the essentials along, like our house or car keys, our wallet or purse, a phone, perhaps a kid or two in tow, but most of us also recognize the need for a wonderfully tasty cup of coffee to-go. 

Before leaving your house, you’ve no doubt spent time in your kitchen crafting the perfect, delicious cup. 

Your brewing methods, you’ve got them down to a science, from grind size, to the water to grounds ratio, to the perfected amount of additives - a dash or two of cinnamon, a velvety layer of foam on top, or slightly sweetened coffee ice cubes to add to your freshly made batch of cold brew. 

But, how do you transport that mug of pure perfection, allowing you to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard to craft in your own kitchen? 

If you carry an open mug with you on-the-go, you could end up wearing your brew. 

Some travel tumblers won’t fit in your vehicle’s cup holder. 

You certainly don’t want your travel mug to take your freshly brewed coffee from hot to not before you even get to the end of your driveway. 

When you’re sipping on your brew after you get to work, you definitely don’t want your co-workers to witness the dreaded dribble…you know what I mean, that inevitable dripping and dribbling of coffee down your chin when you’re sipping from a travel mug with a lid that doesn’t quite cut it.

And, what about all the iced coffee lovers out there? 

Nobody wants their refreshingly tasty, ice cold brew to lose its luster to a lukewarm fate only a few hours after you’ve left the house. (I mean come on, moms everywhere know that you only get a few sips every half hour or so in a day filled with distractions.) 

So then, how do you beat the travel mug blues? 

What should you look for in a travel coffee mug to ensure that your brew stays hot, or cold, doesn’t leak down your chin as you sip, fits in your vehicle’s cup holder, and more?

Read on, because we’re about to find out! 

Likable Lids

Many parts of life can be complicated. The lid to your travel coffee mug? Nope, that shouldn’t be one of those complications! 

Unfortunately, travel mug lids practically need their very own section in the dictionary. 

Did you know there’s a difference between leak-proof and spill-proof? 

Water-tight can also mean heat-loss prevention. 

Screw-on, press-on, and snap-on each mean something different when it comes to whether or not your coffee will likely spill, leak, or stay hot/cold. 

Come on now, ain’t nobody got time for that, right? 

So, let’s get our Webster on, right here, right now, and find out what’s what when it comes to travel mug lids. 

When mugs claim to be spill-proof, this type of lid will only prevent major spills. They’re usually easy to sip from casually, but they can’t necessarily be tucked away for later use. 

When mugs claim to be leak-proof, these can be tilted and tipped; no java will spill out unless the lid is opened. However, if you’re looking to sip off and on throughout your morning commute, your ease in accessing your brew with such a lid is a bit limited. 

Some travel mugs serve as more of a thermos, and the lids for such types could be classified as more of a screw on cap and cover. These are classically known to keep your brew piping hot, but aren’t necessarily accessible for car trips. Though they can certainly suit a need for enjoying a hot cup of joe several hours into your work (or vacation) day. 

Snap-on and screw-on lids generally both claim to be spill-resistant or spill-proof, preventing those major spills. Just be sure your snap-on lid selection contains a rubber gasket to suction to the inside of the mug, preventing the lid from popping off the top of your tumbler. 

Some travel tumblers possess lids that simply press onto the top of the mug. A true press-on lid would not contain a rubber gasket. Such lids are generally ranked low on the list of greats as they can pop off or lack the creation of a heat/cold/spill proof seal. 

    Then, what about sippability?

    The type of opening your travel mug lid has can make or break the perfect sip. 

    • Flip-top lids can close the drinking hole quite nicely, just be sure the flip doesn’t flop back down as you try to sip. 

    • If iced coffee or cold brew is your preferred travel companion, lids that have a straw are great options. Just remember, you want a tight seal around the straw if you expect it to be mostly spill-proof, and even then spills aren’t 100% avoidable. I mean, there is an open hole for a straw in the lid. Sigh, I suppose we truly can’t have it all, right?

    • A few plastic travel mug options contain pop-on lids with an open hole for sipping. These can be suitable for quick sipping, though both the lid and the cup material don’t allow for enjoying your brew piping hot (throughout the day), nor do they prevent spills. 

    • Both thumb-slide tops and rotating locks on lids allow for your brew to remain covered until you choose to partake with a simple slip, or twist, of thumb. 

    And, one last consideration when it comes to your travel mug lid…cleaning. 

    Some sliding tops on lids are notoriously difficult to clean. 

    If you prefer additions such as milk or sugar to your brew, it’s good to note that slide top lids may take some extra effort when cleaning as they can trap liquid. 

    Soaking in a sudsy solution for several minutes, followed by a thorough rinsing, and allowing ample time for drying seem to bust through the grime of stubborn lid maintenance. 

    And, travel mug options that are dishwasher safe can alleviate some of this chore as well. 

    To sum that up, I suppose travel mug lids can be a lot like your favorite pair of jeans - you’ll want a tight fit, something that’s easy to wash, and you want to look good while you sip (here referring to a lack of chin dribbling). 

    How it’s Made

    With a subtle nod to the enjoyable Canadian TV series here, we’d like to explore the makings of a great travel coffee mug by listing some popular materials and methods used, detailing which ones are best suited for keeping your coffee hot or cold, super tasty, and free of condensation or chemicals. 

    First, let’s examine plastic

    Plastic is generally lightweight and inexpensive, and most travel mugs made from this material boast spill-proof perks. 

    However, plastic is not a friend to the environment, it often doesn’t measure up in keeping your brew hot or cold for an extended period of time, and the oils in coffee can leech into this material affecting the flavor of your brew. 

    If you did choose to sip an iced brew in a plastic travel mug, condensation can be your worst enemy. 

    And, some plastics can seep BPA, a chemical compound used in manufacturing many plastics, into your hot beverage, a risk with side effects known to adversely affect health. 

    Next, let’s take a look at ceramic

    Though the numbers aren’t staggering, there are some ceramic travel mug options. 

    These varieties tend to be aesthetically pleasing, fairly inexpensive, and certainly won’t affect the taste of your brew; however, they can easily break and stain, call for a battle against condensation when transporting icy brews, and they certainly don’t keep coffee hot over time. 

    So then, what about stainless steel?

    Though a bit more expensive and slightly heavier, stainless steel is a favorite material for most travel mug consumers as it offers insulation, keeping your brew hot or cold for a long period of time. 

    Other design features such as the lid and the sipping hole can affect the mug’s ability to keep your beverage hot or cold as well, but generally speaking, stainless steel constructed mugs are a tried and true win for both durability and heat/cold retention. 

    Another positive attribute of a stainless steel mug is their lack of accumulating icy brew dew (aka condensation for iced beverages). 

    One topic of debate concerning stainless steel mugs is that some believe this material can affect the flavor of coffee. Though others swear by this medium for the top way to enjoy coffee on the go. 

    Aside from the actual materials used to make a travel mug, the most effective way to use such a vessel to keep your coffee piping hot or icy cold is to opt for double wall stainless steel construction. 

    In this type of travel coffee mug, vacuum insulation is incorporated by the use of not one, but two stainless steel walls with a gap placed between them. In such a mug, the air in this gap is removed, creating a vacuum that keeps heat from moving between the two stainless steel walls which keeps your coffee hot, or cold, much longer. 

    Size Matters

    Your travel coffee mug can meet every qualification on the list we’ve looked at thus far, but if it isn’t big enough to hold your brew, all the bells and whistles are in vain. 

    Likewise, if your preferred brew is small but mighty, you truly don’t need a massive mug. 

    So, what’s the perfect size for a travel tumbler? 

    Generally, you’ll find to-go coffee tumblers ranging from 12-20 ounce capacities. 

    But, before you decide on an exact size, keep in mind your java needs…

    • Are you typically an eight-ounce brewer, but ice is your best friend, maybe the 12-16 ounce range would suit your needs best. 

    • Are you traveling with a brew for two? No, you’re not sharing, just doubling down on your daily successes with a second cup. You’ll probably want to opt for the 20 ounce to-go mug. 

    • And, what if a few shots of espresso topped with a velvety layer of foam is more you're on-the-go jam? A smaller (12 ounce or less) travel mug is likely most fitting for you. 

    Then, considering the fact that you’ll most likely be traveling with your travel coffee mug, the size of the mug can also make or break whether or not the tumbler will actually fit in your vehicle. 

    In other words, when it comes to travel coffee mugs, it’s all about that base

    If you’ve gotta have a wide base on your travel tumbler, look for selections that have a non-slip bottom to help prevent spills. 

    But, when it comes to finding a to-go cup that fits the bill, I mean cup holder, then look for slim or slender options as well as travel mugs that taper near the bottom. 

    Sometimes travel mugs with handles are convenient, even preferred, but this feature can create an obstacle when fitting the mug into the cup holders in some vehicles. If you absolutely must have a handle, tapered options seem to be an appropriate route for travel. 

    Lifeboost Coffee Tumblers

    So, after reviewing the best traits of a truly great travel coffee tumbler, we’d like to examine how our mug measures up. 

    In creating a truly great travel tumbler, first we researched the best materials for insulation, wanting to keep our hot coffee hot and our cold coffee cold, while also ensuring our truly great coffee wasn’t compromised in flavor or health due to the materials used in the making of our mug. 

    Then, in the midst of creating our travel coffee tumbler, we also went to our customers for advice. 

    We asked what kind of lid/sipping hole you preferred. 

    We asked what size best suited your needs. 

    You told us your preferences concerning design. 

    And, between our research, overall goal, and your valued input, we came up with a truly amazing tumbler! 

    I mean, perhaps we’re a little biased here, but from lid design, size, composition, durability, even color, these mugs rock! 

    Our skinny 20 ounce tumblers are available in beautiful teal, pistachio, or rust orange colors.

    Each tumbler is laser engraved with our Lifeboost logo, has a rubber bottom, fits into your vehicle’s cup holder with ease, and has a spill-proof lid (tapered) or a convenient straw (skinny) for sipping. 

    With their sleek and eye-catching design, you can enjoy your overwhelmingly delicious Lifeboost coffee on-the-go, all while cheering your child on at a soccer game, working throughout the week at the office, making rush hour traffic seem a little less stressful, errand time a lot more enjoyable, and your recreation time more fun as you happily sip! 

      Check out Lifeboost Coffee Grata Medium Roast.


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