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Best coffee cup 2023: Tried and tested cups, mugs and flasks for at home and on the move

Best coffee cup

We select the most stylish and insulative coffee cups for at home, work and on the go

Drinking a coffee is all about the ritual: sipping a delicious latte over coffee with friends or downing a shot of espresso before your day truly gets under way. Something that might have gone unnoticed, however, is just how important using the best coffee cup for the job is.

In fact, you may take it for granted, but a well-designed mug can enhance the flavour of your coffee, keep it warm (or cold) for hours at a time and just be a pretty thing to look at, too. Plus, if you’re always sipping your coffee on the move, you’ll know the value of a leak-proof travel cup to avoid any nasty stains. For those cafe connoisseurs yet to be convinced that homemade coffee is just as delightful, purchasing a quality coffee cup will even help the environment. Most high street chains will give you a discount if you bring in your own reusable receptacle and help cut down on the nearly three billion disposable cups used each year in the UK.

However, there are a vast number of coffee cups, mugs, glasses and flasks out there, so we don’t blame you if picking out a new favourite vessel is too much to bear. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with a range of options in a number of materials for use at home, plus more portable, durable and insulated options for sipping coffee out and about.

We understand if you’re not completely clued up on the best materials, shapes and sizes for your own needs, so read on if that sounds like you and dive into our coffee cup buying guide. To get straight into our cup recommendations, scroll further down.

Best coffee cup: At a glance

Best ceramic coffee mugStaub Ceramique Mug (~£15)Check price at Zwilling
Best budget (and eco-friendly) coffee cupOlpro Husk Breaktime Mug (~£6)Check price at Olpro
Best insulated coffee mugHydro Flask Coffee Mug (~£25)Check price at Amazon
Best coffee cup for espressoMelitta Double-Walled Espresso Glass (~£9.99)Check price at Amazon

READ NEXT: The finest coffee machines to buy

How to choose the best coffee cup for you

It all depends on your lifestyle. Where and when you most frequently find yourself sipping a cup of joe, as well as personal preference and the amount you’ve got to spend, are the key drivers to what coffee cup you’ll prefer.

What materials and features should I go for?

For natural homebodies and those working from home, a classic ceramic mug might be the natural choice. Most coffee cups are ceramic and provide decent heat retention, all while offering the fun of creative designs and colour schemes other more practical cups tend to forgo. They’re generally pretty affordable too, and when properly cared for, ceramic mugs – especially hardy, chip-resistant stoneware options – can have a life as long as any other material.

When they aren’t, ceramic vessels – especially porcelain (also called china after the country it was first imported to the UK from) – can chip or smash easily. Bone china (a type of porcelain mixed with bone ash) is actually the strongest of the ceramics, although this strength tends to mean bone china cups are designed with thin walls that focus on elegance over utility. The same is true of the slightly less strong porcelain, and consequently, both bone china and porcelain cups can break more easily and have worse insulation if designed this way.

If you want to avoid reheating your coffee every five minutes, a more insulative cup will be a better choice. Double-walled cups or those with silicone covers/sleeves can help keep the warmth in while being easier to pick up. Double-layered cups have an insulating air pocket between them and are a common feature of glass vessels that are traditionally poor insulators. Some coffee shops prefer to serve lattes in tall glassware, with glass in general an increasingly popular choice for its stylish presentation of coffee.

But optimal insulation of both hot and cold-brew coffees will be found on cups designed to withstand outdoor conditions, usually labelled as travel cups. These tend to hold greater volume, have secure lids so there are no spillages or major loss of heat or coldness, and are usually made from stainless steel. This is an impressively durable material that is dishwasher-safe and often part of a vacuum-insulated, double-walled travel offering, since steel on its own conducts heat well. However, some people report steel cups producing a metallic-tasting coffee after years of use, so if this is you it’s perhaps time to exchange your cup for another.

Other things to consider are the general construction of your ideal cup; for instance, if you prefer drinking with a handle or without. This may be dictated by how well your cup handles heat or coldness – you won’t want to clasp a boiling hot cup – but for some, the handle is a crucial part of the drinking experience.

Likewise, despite all the insulative benefits certain materials provide, choosing a cup with a lid will make the single biggest difference in keeping your coffee hot or cold. Most cups meant for stationary use won’t come with a lid, while travel cups almost always do.

What size and shape cup should I go for?

Tied up in all these considerations is how much coffee (and what type) you tend to guzzle each day. If a morning shot of espresso is central to your daily routine, then single (30ml) or double shot (60ml) glasses may be ideal. For those that enjoy a gentle sip of caffeine throughout the day, larger cups or travel-sized flasks may be in order – especially if you want to keep that drink toasty throughout the day. Equally, for iced coffee lovers, a large volume cup will be needed to cram in the extra ice. Or you may simply enjoy a standard-sized cup, around 355ml, and be done with it. Try to work out your consumption per day and go from there.

While tradition may demand that you drink espresso from an espresso glass, there are no rules on how to drink coffee. However, there is a school of thought among coffee tasters and academics that the shape of your drinking vessel can affect how the coffee impacts your senses. Tall, narrow cups are said to be the best option to concentrate the aroma of your drink and get the full experience for the senses. This may be especially important if you’re testing new blends or even making your own. Plus, as the opening of the cup has a smaller surface area than regular, wide-rim coffee cups, it should retain heat better, too.

How we test coffee cups

Just how we test coffee cups is as intuitive as you might imagine – after all, sterile lab conditions are no match for proper daily use. We simply make up a brew and put it in each of our sample cups. From there, we assess in-hand weight and feel, as well as how well each cup insulates heat and protects your hands from burning. Other factors, such as price, size, materials, aesthetics, ability to be microwaved or cleaned in a dishwasher and effectiveness of the lid (if it has one) are also considered in each cup’s respective role – for instance, a travel coffee cup will demand different priorities compared to an at-home cup.

To see how a cup’s material responds to cleaning, we also make sure to go through at least three coffee drinking and cleaning cycles, while also updating the page with any long-term material problems should the cups have any staining or construction issues from prolonged use.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best reusable coffee cups

The best coffee cups you can buy in 2023

1. Staub Ceramique Mug: Best ceramic coffee mug

Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at Zwilling

While a ceramic mug might not have the bells and whistles routinely found on alternative material coffee cups, sometimes a simple, well-crafted cup is all you need. This beautiful mug from Staub Ceramique ticks those boxes and then some through a timeless design that will be right at home in your kitchen.

In fact, its 300g body gives it a great weight and sturdy platform for home use and couples nicely with a very comfortable (and apparently ergonomic) handle compared to others we tested. And, unlike some ceramic cups, the Staub has an enamelled surface to make cleaning much less of a chore and lessen the chances of staining. It’s not built for keeping your drink hot or cold like other cups on this list, but that doesn’t matter if all you want is a classically designed, standard-capacity mug with a quality hand-feel to drink your coffee from at home.

Key features – Size: 350ml; Materials: Borosilicate glass; Dishwasher-safe? Yes; Microwave-safe? Yes

2. Hydro Flask Coffee Mug: Best insulated coffee mug

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon

In terms of the complete package for stationary coffee lovers, the Hydro Flask was the best cup we tested. Not only does it look gorgeous in the matt “clementine” colourway (four other colours are available), but the soft-touch finish is incredibly satisfying to handle. Despite this synthetic feel, the cup is BPA and phthalate-free (both believed to leach from plastic into drinking vessels) and internally, it uses 18/8 stainless steel, which is a hardy, durable variety that should last for quite some time.

It also has a handle with great support that traditional drinkers will enjoy, though you aren’t forced to use it since the double-walled and vacuum insulated cup design means the cup body stays at room temperature. Importantly, this insulation keeps your coffee hot (or cold) for longer than a standard mug – it was still enjoyably warm after five hours.

It’s not the best travel cup since, even with the press-in lid closed, we found the cup to trickle out its contents when at an angle. And not being dishwasher-safe could be a dealbreaker for some. Still, what the Hydro Flask does, it does incredibly well. If you’re after exceptional hand-feel, quality insulation and easy cleaning, this attractive mug is a top choice for use on the campsite, the office floor and in the home.

Key features – Size: 355ml; Materials: Stainless steel; Dishwasher-safe? No; Microwave-safe? No

3. Olpro Husk Breaktime Mug: Best budget (and eco-friendly) coffee cup

Price when reviewed: £6 | Check price at Olpro

Given the price of this cup from Olpro – cheaper than a coffee at your average high-street chain – we weren’t expecting too much. Yet the Husk Breaktime Mug offers a top-quality alternative to the disposable coffee cup, even on the tightest of budgets – and all while being environmentally friendly.

The coffee cup body is made from rice husks (the outer shell of rice grains) that are usually discarded during the rice milling process. Instead, Olpro has turned this byproduct into a surprisingly strong coffee cup that is completely biodegradable. It conducts heat fairly well, so don’t be surprised if your cup reaches a toasty temperature; it was never too hot to handle, however, due to the grippy, silicone sleeve that’s available in a number of cheerful colours. There’s also silicone on the lid to lock everything in, and while it doesn’t provide the security of a closable drinking hole found on travel cups, it didn’t spill out of anywhere besides the drinking hole during our tests.

An added bonus is that the cup is microwave-safe should your coffee go a little cold – and it probably will, since it was hot for only a little longer than a standard ceramic mug. Still, for the price, you can’t really complain about this environmentally sound option from Olpro.

Key features – Size: 355ml; Materials: Rice grain husks, silicone; Dishwasher safe? Yes; Microwave safe? Yes

Check price at Olpro

4. Contigo Byron 2.0 Juniper: Best coffee cup for travel

Price when reviewed: £12 | Check price at Tesco

If confidence in your cup is a top priority, this travel mug from Contigo will certainly provide you with that. Confidence first that your drink will be hot as can be for hours at a time. Of all the mugs here, the Contigo Byron 2.0 Juniper retained its optimum temperature for the longest, burning this reviewer’s tongue after over an hour in the cup and clocking in around seven hours of enjoyable warmth. It lasts even longer at cold temperatures – almost a whole 24 hours.

Second, you can rest assured that whatever position you put it in, this bottle is not going to leak. Wherever it’s been taken, the Contigo Byron has performed admirably: we have no spillages or soaking backpacks to report after two weeks’ use, thanks to the “snap seal’ lid. Third, because the coffee stays hotter for longer and is impossible to spill, you’ll have a lot more toasty coffee to get through in one sitting and can potentially last the entire workday on one brew. Plus, unlike many other travel mugs that edge close to £30, this is an absolute bargain, making it the best pick for taking your coffee from A to B.

Key features – Size: 590ml; Materials: Stainless steel; Dishwasher-safe? No; Microwave-safe? No

Check price at Tesco

5. Mason Cash Originals Reactive Mug: Best stoneware mug

Price when reviewed: £11 | Check price at AmazonThe glazed finish to this stoneware mug by Mason Cash certainly catches the eye through an attractive, rugged charm and deep teal colour. There’s something quite visually appealing about the subtly non-uniform texture of the mug body too, with thumb-sized depressions actually making the mug easier to hold (assuming using the handle isn’t your cup of tea – or rather, coffee).

If you do choose to use the handle, you’ll find that it’s on the large side: it’s capable of fitting three fairly large fingers. And with a 400ml capacity and heavier weight than the vast majority of mugs we tested, this is certainly an option for anyone who prefer plus-sized coffee cups housed in beautifully crafted stoneware.

Key features – Size: 400ml; Materials: Stoneware; Dishwasher-safe? Yes; Microwave-safe? Yes

6. Melitta Double-Walled Espresso Glass: Best coffee cup for espresso

Price when reviewed: £9.99 (for two) | Check price at Amazon

The unadulterated hit of the espresso is the coffee connoisseur’s pinnacle, so why not choose a glass cup and see that dark, rich drink in all its glory? These double-walled espresso glasses from Melitta are a delight. They’re built from borosilicate glass, a type of glass that is shock-resistant to instant temperature changes, unlike standard glassware, making it an ideal material to house a coffee.

Combining this with a double-walled design ensures your fingers are cool and your coffee stays hotter for longer. While traditional ceramic espresso cups can make for a great alternative, the sleek appeal of these clear cups from Melitta really makes for a delightful, modern twist. It’s also a lot easier to hold than the dainty handles of those classic espresso cups, especially if you’re one to mainline a strong espresso before rushing off to work.

Key features – Size: 80ml; Materials: Borosilicate glass; Dishwasher-safe? Yes; Microwave-safe? Yes

7. Typhoon Latte Glass: Best latte glass

Price when reviewed: £10 | Check price at Amazon

Glassware is likely to break when you pour hot coffee into it as it’s a naturally brittle material and will expand when exposed to hot temperatures, so it’s important to get an appropriate glass for your caffeinated delights. Typhoon’s latte glass is a great pick if that’s what you’re after due to its double-layered borosilicate construction which keeps your coffee warm without any risk of damage.

The design is curved in all the right places and includes an air pocket at the bottom for added insulation while also adding an attractive floating appearance to your beverage. It’s also got a larger than average capacity of 360ml, is incredibly light and also microwave safe, making this option from Typhoon a really flexible and stylish pick should you want a window into your coffee creations at home.

Key features – Size: 360ml; Materials: Glass; Dishwasher safe? Yes (but hand washing is recommended); Microwave safe? Yes

8. Eleanor Bowmer mug: Best bone china mug

Price when reviewed: £13 | Check price at Next

Given that it’s made from bone china, this mug by Eleanor Bowmer is remarkably thick and is a great option for everyday home use. Bone china is the strongest ceramic out there, but this high strength typically means it is produced with a thinner cross-section than other materials. By keeping the thickness to that of a standard ceramic mug, this cup is extra strong and suitable for everyday wear and tear – especially since it’s dishwasher safe.

The cup itself gets to a toasty temperature, but not uncomfortably so – and besides, it has a sturdy handle, shaped like a lowercase ‘e’, to save your digits. It fits the index and middle fingers perfectly for a secure, comfortable hold. It all comes packaged in a dotted gift box too, in case you wanted to give this fetching mug as a present.

If the Palm tree design and tall cup style aren’t to your liking, there are a range of other Eleanor Bowmer mugs to browse through including fun, painted varieties and wider, shorter mugs.

Key features – Size: 300ml; Materials: Bone China; Dishwasher safe? Yes (but hand washing is recommended) Microwave safe? Yes

Check price at Next

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