Never buy a throwaway cup again! That’s what we’re aiming for. We now take our own reusable cups to coffee shops and staff are happy to fill them.
But you probably don’t want a porcelain mug in your bag, so what are the best reusable coffee cups? And is an insulated travel mug the answer?
Latest update: January 2022
And while you’re thinking green, don’t forget to have a look at our BIG green guide to being environmentally friendly when camping.
In a hurry? If you don’t have much time using the links below to quickly find our favourites for you. You can be assured we only choose the best products…
What a sad statistic
In the UK, 2.5bn disposable cups are thrown away every year. Only 0.25% are recycled (according to an environmental audit committee report).
We campers care about the countryside, so we ought to make a stand…or at least not add to the problem ourselves.
So, let’s find a cup we can keep handy. Maybe folding? Maybe insulated? Definitely nice to drink from. For some, the optimum size is 12oz or 350ml – big enough for a decent size coffee, but not too big to hold or carry.
And while you’re thinking about cutting waste, have a look at our article on plastic-free tableware like plates and bowls, and ditch the disposable barbecue in favour of one you can use over and over again.
Meanwhile, here are our recommended insulated travel mugs and reusable coffee cups.
Leakproof and insulated travel mugs
Chris Miller, the reader who won our Tentsile competition a while back, got in touch to ask us to help him find the perfect travel mug.
“I’ve always hated waste and don’t like single use cups or anything disposable,” says Chris. “Also, while my work sold Costa coffee, I could make a nicer cup myself and save a few pennies too.
“I have no issue buying expensive if it performs and lasts and my ideal would be a single container that’s usable from Ben Nevis to boardroom. The ideal would work as a car cup, flask, reusable coffee cup, travel mug and even occasionally a wine glass around the campfire.”
Tall Order? Here what we found
12 hours of heat (or cold) and a thing of beauty, S’well’s water flasks are everywhere these days and the wide-mouth versions for coffee are just as well-designed.
These insulated travel mugs have three layers and the outside won’t get condensation on it, which is a big bonus. Screw-off rather than flip lid won’t suit some, however.
Three sizes and a big range of colours and patterns, plus an ethical company. Love this teak one!
Insulated Vs Non Insulated
Carrying around an insulated reusable coffee cup rather than something folder can seem like a bit of a pain at times but if your anything like me when you get waylaid doing something, having a long chat on the hands free while driving or you want to have something warm there in an hours time after a good hike but you don't want to carry a massive flask with you then an insulated coffee mug is the option. But how long to they actually keep your drink at a reasonable drinking temperature? Well I did a very sad but fun experiment to find out! We tested out the Greens Steel Insulated coffee cup against a generic plastic double walled one which your big coffee chains seem fond to push you to buy. We even did a little graph to show you the results.
As you can see the insulated cup stayed drinkable for 2 and a half hours! when we did the test on these to keep if fair we did leave the drink hole cover open so they were both exposed but I think it is fair to say if it had been closed it would have retained it's heat for many more hours!
We took the Greens Steel Insulated Coffee Cup for a road test and it has raced it's way into our Best Value pick, you can order them in 2 sizes 12oz and 16oz, my 16oz one holds enough for 2 good size mugs of tea and as it will keep to temp for at least 3 hours I have started throwing it in the backpack when I go out so I can have a hot drink throughout the morning. It is completely leak proof with the click lid to cover the drink hole, although the 16oz is big it does fit in the car cup carrier just about (not all the way to the bottom but is secure)
We also loved the edition of a handy little click up handle, it sounds like a small thing but when carrying lot's of baggage and trying to lock the door it is a god send being able to hang the cup from your little finger!
All in all we think this mug performs well, keeps drinks warm, doesn't leak and at a cracking price.
Utterly leakproof (providing you close the lid properly!) and in an easy-to-hold and stash shape. This Tefal insulated travel mug will keep drinks hot for around four hours in our experience.
Simple, elegant, colour choices and not a bad price.
Bodum’s well-known for tea and coffee gear, so it’s no surprise that they’ve designed a rather good insulated travel mug.
People do love them. They look good, are nice to hold and keep drinks warm. They aren’t leakproof, however.
My favourite is this stainless steel one with the cork band. Pretty!
Take a reusable cup and ditch the single-use takeaway cups
And here are our choices for cups you can take to the coffee shop for fill-ups. Not insulated, but with more of a cup-like feel.
The Joco has been my cup for using at home (without the lid) and for taking camping for a year now.
Lots of colours and sizes.
I like that it feels like a real cup to drink out of and it makes a generous wine glass in the evenings! Its only downside is that the lid isn’t sealable, so it needs to be kept upright when full.
Another glass range with plenty of choice. Glass doesn’t taint your water and it feels nicer to drink from.
Most of the KeepCup mugs are made of toughened glass, which will stand up to a lot, but does take a bit of care.
They’ve just brought out a stainless steel insulated version too. Looks great, but not leakproof. Go for one of the ones above instead.
Funny this. If we all stop using disposable cups, presumably Cornwall-based Ashortwalk will have to find another material for their travel mugs. At the moment, though, there’s no shortage!
Their rCup is leak-proof and has a push open/close lid. Nice designs and a great price. The company also makes tide clocks, plant pots, house signs and more, all out of recycled materials.
When I first researched and wrote this round-up, bamboo cups were fairly rare. They’re everywhere now, but not all can stand up to our tests!
The latter are the perfect shape for drinks holders, keep contents hot, feel nice, don’t scald your lips and can even be put in the dishwasher. Great!
Personally, I haven’t found a folding or collapsible cup that I like. The feel of the silicone isn’t pleasant and they can be hard to clean.
My sister likes them, but I hate them. Definitely choose a dark colour because they soon get stained.
Best of the bunch so far is this Stojo foldable coffee cup. Available in lots of colours and in three sizes.