Transit approved commuter mug - 12 oz. edition.
November 28, 2016 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Here in Halifax, transit drivers won't let you on the bus with a coffee unless it is in a travel mug. While I think this is pretty repugnant, I am tired of wasting a third of an americano when the bus arrives faster than I anticipate. After taking a stab myself, I am turning to you, the good people of MetaFilter, for a 12 oz. travel mug recommendation.

I bought this Zojirushi travel mug based on this Sweethome/Wirecutter review. They have never steered me wrong before, but this was an utter failure. The locking mechanism doesn't so much lock as 'make slightly harder to open'.

These are my requirements:

-12 0z. I really don't want anything bigger
-Must completely seal, securely enough that I could toss it in a bag with a laptop while it was full of liquid (I may not actually do this, but this is the level of seal I am hoping for).
-Must be easy to drink out of without spilling. A nice sipping lip or spout of some kind would be ideal.
-Must be operable without separating parts (e.g., I don't want to have to unscrew and pocket a lid before drinking). Two handed operation is fine, as long as I don't end up with a part that I have to pocket / could potentially lose.
-Money's no object! Well, actually, it is. I will be annoyed if it is more than 50$, but I would consider spending more if there were no other options. And 50$ should buy me a damn travel mug that works, right!?
-Must be possible to acquire in Canada.
-Insulating characteristics are not that important.

Recommendations of travel mugs you actually own and have used extensively in your own commute would be most valuable.
posted by jamaal to Food & Drink (48 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
posted by adamrice at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Contigo travel mug. If you don't want to order online, they often have them at Winners and at places like Kitchen Stuff Plus, or Bed Bath and Beyond. probably has them, too.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

The ONLY travel mug that reliably doesn't leak but also doesn't need to be taken apart to drink is the Contigo, as far as I know. They don't make 12 oz sizes but they make 14 -- would that do?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

And I toss my contigo into my laptop-holding bag all the time. No problem.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sorry to post 3 times. I just realized they have a snap seal version. You don't want that. You want the auto-seal.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:27 PM on November 28, 2016

I have this 12 oz Stanley travel mug. You push a button to drink the contents. It keeps things hot or cold for hours (like, tongue-burningly hot, so be careful). I have carried it around in bag and dropped it in the footwell of the car where it rolls around and it has never leaked.
posted by rtha at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2016

100% recommend the contigo mugs. They make 12 ounce versions available on amazon US and CANADA.
posted by bilabial at 12:39 PM on November 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding the Contigo, particularly the models with SnapSeal. I have two and purchased them because the mechanisms are simple (thus unlikely to break), lock well, and are easily cleaned.
posted by kindall at 12:39 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also have the Contigo mug. It does all the things you want and it's absolutely perfect.
posted by _Mona_ at 12:40 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's 4 ounces too big, but the Zojirushi will keep everything hot, has one button operation but with a "throw it into your bag" lock that works flawlessly. I've been using mine for a year and my only problem with it is that it sometimes keeps things too hot.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have the Zojirushi that craven_morhead recommends and I have never had any issues with leakage, accidental opening, or lack of insulation. In fact, I'd say it somehow manages to make my beverages hotter than they were before pouring in! It's really solid.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:43 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have the same Contigo mentioned above by rabbitrabbit and would recommend. However, every style of Contigo mug I've used had to be thrown out after 6 months to a year, because the lid has alot of crevices and they can be really hard to keep clean. This may have been a bigger issue for me because I like milk in my coffee. YMMW if you take your coffee black.

(I did just find out that you can get replacement lids directly from Contigo, so next time I'll be able to replace just the lid.)
posted by cabingirl at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would think twice about a snapseal (and the 12 oz ones on are snapseal) for throwing in bag purposes because something jostling in the bag could pop the seal open.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:46 PM on November 28, 2016

GIVE INTO THE CONTIGO PRESSURE. I asked a similar question years ago. The Hive advised me to buy some Contigos. I did, and have not regretted it. They are bombproof, spill-proof, and you can buy replacement lids and parts if you misplace them.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I also came in here to suggest the Contigo with autoseal. I give them as gifts to coffee lovers and have received much thanks.
posted by INFJ at 12:51 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have the 20oz version of this 12oz Hydro Flask and love it. Very secure lid which can be opened with one hand.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

No specific recommendation, but generally, every seal will eventually leak without routine cleaning (no crusties on the sealing surface) and periodic replacement of deteriorated rubber. Maybe don't throw it in with a laptop even if it's worked fine every time so far.
posted by ctmf at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2016

Seconding the Hydro Flask recommendation. I have the 20 oz and not only does it not leak AT ALL, but it will also keep your coffee hot for a crazy amount of time. A few weeks ago, I got to work and in the crazy bustle of all the stuff that had to happen I completely forgot about my coffee until around 3:30 when I caught a break. The coffee that I had poured into the HydroFlask at 8:00 AM was still hot at 3:30.

Thing is amazing.
posted by teleri025 at 1:03 PM on November 28, 2016

Nthing the Contigo (and as someone who's watched multiple people slosh and spill coffee on the bus, once onto their seatmate, I must admit I think the travel mug requirement is a good idea). For what it's worth, I have two of the Snap Seals in the 20 oz. style, and they've been very secure for the past two years. The two times I've had issues have been when I left the lid open like a damn fool. If the 12 oz. is only available in Snap Seal, I wouldn't let that put me off.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:05 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

-Must completely seal, securely enough that I could toss it in a bag with a laptop while it was full of liquid
-Must be easy to drink out of without spilling.
-Must be operable without separating parts.

I think this is one of those fast, cheap, and good kinds of problems. Something with no separating parts, that is easy to open with one hand, can't seal as securely as something with a one-piece screw on lid. This problem can be partially resolved by using something with multiple cap options.

I have a bu-u-unch of mugs and bottles and such, but I use my insulated wide-mouth Klean Kanteen almost every day. Hydro Flask also makes great bottles, but I find the KK bottles, which have the seam at the bottom rather than near the lip, provide a more pleasant drinking-straight-from-the-bottle experience.

I know you said that insulation isn't that important, but insulated containers also offer the advantage of not attracting condensation, which makes them much more pleasant and easy to live with in day-to-day use.
posted by box at 1:07 PM on November 28, 2016

I think your Zojirushi may be defective. I have the exact same one and it doesn't leak at all - I can turn it upside down or toss it into my backpack and never worry about leakage.

That's not to say you should get another one if you don't like it, but if you have the receipt you might want to ask for a refund, because it definitely isn't working the way it should.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:11 PM on November 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

twice about a snapseal ... something jostling in the bag could pop the seal open

I suppose it's technically possible, but it would need a fair bit of leverage to do this. I need to use both thumbs to get mine open when I want it open, and that's on a mug I've been using for a year.
posted by kindall at 1:16 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Contigo Auto Seal.
posted by wwax at 1:18 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have this Tupperware vacuum seal coffee mug. It is 4 ounces over what you want, but otherwise perfectly fits your requirements. As long as you make sure the seal is set before you go, I have never had any issues with leaking, including when dropping it on a hard surface (I managed to dent it, but didn't get any leaks) and when shaking it upside down (as a test). It does keep the coffee REALLY HOT -- I suggest letting it sit with the lid off for a few minutes before sealing unless you are not planning to drink until you get to work.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:45 PM on November 28, 2016

Contigo, also sold at Costco and elsewhere under the Avex brand name.
posted by essexjan at 1:49 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Huh, somehow I missed your Zojirushi experience below the fold. In light of that, I'm seconding showbiz_liz's suggestion - I think you somehow have a bad one. Mine is sitting in front of me on my desk, and if I have the locking mechanism on "lock" pushing as hard as I can on the "open" button does nothing. Same goes for trying to pry the top off by hand.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:51 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, nthing the Zojirushi love. I use the flask shaped insulated bottle, for hot and cold drinks and it never leaks and once locked, it can't open. I throw it in my bag with no concerns, ever, except as noted above, sometimes my tea is too hot.
posted by glitter at 2:14 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you can survive a few more months, then this Kickstarter product might be just what the bus driver ordered. (You'd need something in the meantime though.)
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 2:18 PM on November 28, 2016

Stanley all the way.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:20 PM on November 28, 2016

I have more than one Contigo and they live in my laptop bag and have never let me down.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:28 PM on November 28, 2016

I have to wonder if the Zoji you got was defective. I've had one for a few months now and love it — it's the first mug I feel completely comfortable tossing into my pack next to electronics and library books. Unlike my previous Contigo, which more than once wound up with something else pressing the "open" button and leaking coffee onto my stuff.

As long as I check that the latch is latched, it's secure. I've even tested dropping it about eight feet onto the sidewalk (not intentionally) and it didn't leak or even get significantly scratched.

Mileage varies, of course, but so far this is the best travel mug I've owned. Maybe see if you can get yours replaced?
posted by Lexica at 2:38 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Contigo, Contigo, Contigo. Snap vs. autoseal is personal preference. Mine is snap, and I like it that way; I find it an easier lid to wash.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:52 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Wide mouth kleen kanteen over here. I've been through dozens of travel mugs, and thus one is my favorite. The coffee lid costs extra. It has leaked a couple times, but that's only been to user error, not any fault of the actual device.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2016

I second the Camelbak travel mug that adamrice recommends. I have one, and it is uncommonly great. I got mine at Mountain Equipment Coop.
posted by rodlymight at 3:22 PM on November 28, 2016

Contigo, nthed. Nothing comes close at a reasonable price. I prefer the snap top.

I toss them in my laptop bag all the time. Never had any leaks.
posted by spitbull at 3:29 PM on November 28, 2016

Nthing Contigo, preferably the snap seal. The snap cover is super strong, I can barely open it! I have the autoseal with twisting spout cover too. Throw them both in a backpack all the time. Would NOT throw the autoseal WITHOUT twisting spout cover in a bag, lest something manage to push the button.
posted by raspberrE at 3:41 PM on November 28, 2016

Nthing the Contigo. I have the original generation autoseal (the Westloop) and it's stood up to 8+ years of abuse (bus, subway, car, and bike commutes over that time) without leaking. It doesn't have a twisting spout cover but I haven't had a problem with it. Easy to drink one-handed. The regular lid is obnoxious to clean, but I just got a new easy-clean lid, and I think you can specify when you buy from the site. It's about $20 at Target but considerably cheaper at Costco ($16 for two) or Amazon.
posted by basalganglia at 4:27 PM on November 28, 2016

The Contigo is legit awesome, but the top will taste like coffee in a way you can't fix very, very quickly. This may or may not be a problem for you.

Also an issue is that any sealed drinking vessel like this necessarily takes your nose out of the taste experience, so you get a LOT less flavor. I've used my Contigo for years as, essentially, a secure, transportable, thermal carafe -- and do my actual drinking out of a small mug once I get where I'm going, or with the top off.

(OTOH, you could drink with the top on, and start cheaping out on beans... )
posted by uberchet at 4:35 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think you had a defective zojirushi. I have had mine (this 12oz champagne beauty) for almost 3 years and it has never leaked. I work in construction and this thing has fallen out of manlifts, had building materials piled/thrown on top of it, and gotten kicked around and jostled all kinds of ways inside my toolbags and it has never leaked ever. What it will do if I fill it too full is overflow into the seal and drip until I shake it out. In this instance I grab it, shake it upside down and side to side a little bit, and it's good to go.

It also keeps my coffee damn near scalding hot even in the coldest of cold. The most irritating thing about it is cleaning the seals but it is absolutely worth it to me.
posted by teslacoilswoah at 5:08 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would recommend a handle on whatever you get!
posted by coberh at 9:47 PM on November 28, 2016

This. Seals perfectly *if* you close it down properly (which is an issue with care not technique), BPA free, recycled plastic, simple and easy pop top, none of the fancy button thingies where the coffee gets stuck in weird places that you cannot clean.

The have one with a handle too.

Available at target and walmart.
posted by ding-dong at 11:53 PM on November 28, 2016

Zojirushi, Zojirushi, and again I say Zojirushi.

You got a lemon the first time; send it back and try again. Mine has never leaked a drop, and stuff inside stays simmering hot for hours.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:11 AM on November 29, 2016

I'm going against the Contigo wave; liked the Autoseal but I too found them ugly to clean. We've moved on to those Camelback mugs from MEC and (my favourite) this Stanley travel mug. No spills from either of them, great products.
posted by N-stoff at 10:14 AM on November 29, 2016

Just because multiple people have mentioned cleaning: I have this set of scrub brushes and they make cleaning travel mugs SO MUCH less of a pain in the ass.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:07 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kleen Kanteen wide mouth with the cafe lid was my favorite for a long time, but I recently got a Contigo Autoseal and it is winning. When I flip the locking lever on the Contigo, I can throw it into my bag without worrying about leakage, something that I couldn't do with the Kleen Kanteen without swapping lids. For cleanup, a quick rinse when I get to work to get the milk residue out, then at home it goes through the dishwasher just fine.
posted by beandip at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2016

Thanks for the many recommendations, folks. I have gone with this Hydro Flask, as recommended by wikipedia brown boy detective. The Contigo pressure was immense, but at the end of the day I really meant it when I said I didn't want to go over 12 oz. There is also the fact that every Contigo looks like it belongs to Deeana Troi, but I digress.

For the record, I think my Zojirushi probably was defective, and I immediately returned it for a refund. But 'once bitten twice buy' isn't how the saying goes...

At the end of the day, it works out well, because the wide mouth is going to be a benefit to my barista.
posted by jamaal at 1:25 PM on November 29, 2016

I am another devoted user of Contigo Snap-Seals. It is a life-changingly perfect thing. I like the 20oz. Also really don't like their "Autoseal" design.

Kinja sites (like Jezebel) regularly (every week or two) feature Amazon deals on Contigo mugs. Just bought two more 20oz-ers for $12 each.

They keep coffee hot for 4 hours, warm for 6-7. They are the best.

You'll get one eventually trust me.
posted by spitbull at 8:10 PM on December 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also a cleaning suggestion: every few weeks I soak the Contigo tops in white vinegar for an hour. Erases lingering old smell/taste issues.
posted by spitbull at 7:41 AM on December 18, 2016

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