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Whether you take your coffee hot or iced, a reliable thermos will keep the drink at its ideal temperature for hours. In fact, the century-old vacuum technology used in thermoses was originally invented to keep liquid hydrogen (aka, rocket fuel) cold.
Today, thermoses can be found in the hands, bags, and cupholders of everyone from campers to commuters. Most are affordable, so picking the right one comes down to your specific needs. Do you want a trigger-action lid to sip while driving? Or a leak-proof bottle you can trust in your purse? Below are some of our favorite options, broken down into different categories to make it easier to decide.
For the coffee drinker on the go, here are the best thermoses to buy.
Best Overall: Thermos Vacuum Insulated Compact Beverage Bottle
Multiple sizes available
Excellent temperature retention
Exterior can scratch
Retains coffee smell inside
Hard to drink on the go
The best overall thermoses take versatility, convenience, reliability, and affordability and combine these features into high-quality products. Whether it's for a gift or for yourself, these classic thermoses get the job done and look good doing it.
The Thermos Vacuum Insulated Compact Beverage Bottle might not have the catchiest name, but it’s a great product. This stainless steel thermos keeps coffee hot for 12 hours and iced coffee cold for 24. It features the convenient twist-and-pour top of the Thermos brand Stainless King, but offers a much more compact and light design.
Capacity: 16, 25 and 32 ounces | Dimensions: 2.6 x 2.6 x 10 inches (12-ounce model) | Color Options: No | Warranty: 5-year limited
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Stanley Classic Legendary Vacuum Insulated Bottle
Excellent temperature retention
Slightly difficult to clean
Another hugely popular and reliable thermos that makes the “best overall” category is the Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle. With its recognizable design, this simple thermos works well, keeping liquids, whether it be coffee, tea, or water, hot or cold for 15 hours and iced for up to 60. Available in green or blue and in several sizes, the Stanley thermos is a great option for everyday use. Plus, it also boasts a lifetime warranty.
Capacity: 0.6, 1, 1.5, 2, and 2.5 quarts | Dimensions: 4.7 x 3.9 x 14.1 inches (1.5-quart model) | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime
Best Budget: Contigo Autoseal West Loop Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug
Multiple sizes and colors
Value for money
Convenient button-activated lid
Doesn't fit in many cupholders
Body is hand-wash only
Possible to dent
One of the most popular thermoses on the market is also one of the most affordable. The Contigo Autoseal travel mug is available in dozens of colors and either a 16 or 20-ounce size. This inexpensive option keeps coffee hot for five hours and iced coffee chilled for up to 12 hours. The easy-to-use, spill-proof, button-release top makes for a convenient and trustworthy travel mug.
Capacity: 16, 20, and 24 ounces | Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 7.8 inches (16-ounce model) | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime limited
"If you’re an urban commuter, you’ll love the anti-spill, single-hand operation of Contigo’s Autoseal West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug." — Suzie Dundas, Product Tester
Best Commuter: Contigo Snapseal Byron Stainless Steel Travel Mug
Especially good for iced coffee
Convenient rubber grip
Body is hand-wash only
Hard to open lid with one hand
If you like sipping hot coffee during your morning drive, walk, or ride, try the Contigo SnapSeal Byron Travel Mug. This thermos holds 20 ounces of liquid that will stay hot for 7 hours and cold for 18. The SnapSeal lid prevents spills whether you're on a crowded subway or throwing your thermos in a backpack. Offered in several colors, this thermos features a comfortable rubber sleeve and is dishwasher safe.
Capacity: 16, 20, and 24 ounces | Dimensions: 3.25 x 3.25 x 7.25 inches (16-ounce model) | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime limited
Runner-Up, Best Commuter: Thermos Stainless King Travel Mug
Fits most cupholders
Paint peels off
Can dent if dropped
The Thermos Brand Stainless King Travel Tumbler is a wide-mouthed, insulated mug that will fit in your cup holder. Available with or without a handle and in seven colors, this thermos also features a tea bag hook for tea drinkers. The unique lid is easy to use and stops spills. The interior and exterior steel prevents sweating and allows for seven hours of hot liquid and 18 hours of cold. It’s a great mug for commuting and can hold 16 ounces of coffee or tea.
Capacity: 16 ounces | Dimensions: 4.9 x 3.3 x 7.8 inches | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime limited
"The Thermos Stainless King Travel Mug might be a little pricey, but it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for longer, making it a worthwhile purchase, especially if you work outdoors or have a long commute." — Rebekah Joan, Product Tester
Best Carafe: Cresimo 68 Oz Stainless Steel Thermal Coffee Carafe
Lightweight yet durable
Very slow pouring
Mixed reviews on temperature retention
While the 68-ounce Thermos King is a good informal sharing option, the Cresimo Thermal Carafe is designed for feeding a crowd. This insulated carafe is ideal for serving hot coffee in a meeting or at home, keeping your brew warm for at least 12 hours. The Cresimo Thermal Carafe has a comfortable handle and an easy-to-use, no-spill spout; it is also made of stainless steel and comes with a one year warranty.
Capacity: 68 ounces | Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 10.8 inches | Color Options: No | Warranty: 1 year
Best Large Capacity: Stanley Classic Easy-Pour Vacuum Insulated Growler
Stress mark appears on latch
Can dent and scratch
A large thermos is a wonderful way to bring a lot of hot coffee with you each morning. Not only will this help you save money, but bringing coffee from home also means you can customize the brew. And with this large thermos, you can bring enough to share with friends or coworkers.
The Stanley Classic Easy-Pour Growler is a 64-ounce vacuum insulated container that's great for camping, hiking, hunting, and the workplace. Hugely popular and just plain huge, the item is leakproof, dishwasher-safe, and backed by a lifetime warranty. It's available in three colors and has a handle that makes pouring easier. One of the only knocks is that the latch doesn't feel the strongest and can easily suffer stress marks. Other than that, expect this heavy-duty item to withstand the wear and tear of all your adventures.
Capacity: 64 ounces | Dimensions: 6.48 x 4.92 x 11.57 inches | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime
Best Mug: Avito Stainless Steel Coffee Mug Set
Larger than most mugs
Multiple color options
Not microwave safe
If you like to keep your coffee hot, but you don’t like the design of travel thermoses, you may want to try an Avito Stainless Steel Coffee Mug. This two-piece set of brushed steel cups is shaped like a traditional mug and features a smooth handle. With an optional lid for maximum warmth, this mug allows users to keep their morning coffee as hot as possible without burning your hand or losing comfort. The two-walled stainless steel insulation works for cold drinks as well. It is a particularly durable option for coffee lovers with a hectic workplace where mugs might get broken. These mugs hold 14 ounces each.
Capacity: 14 ounces | Dimensions: 7.72 x 5.16 x 3.98 inches | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: None
Best Design: Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Flask with Flex Sip Lid
Excellent temperature retention
Multiple sizes and colors
A little overpriced
May not fit in cupholders
There are so many thermoses on the market that will keep your coffee hot and won’t spill but have a traditional, metallic design. If you're looking for something a bit more fun, try the Hydro Flask which still has all the benefits of a classic thermos. You can buy one of these vacuum insulated stainless steel coffee or beverage bottles in many colors including Pacific, Sunflower, Watermelon and Olive. The sleek cylindrical design, matte-colored steel, and minimalist cap give the Hydro Flask one of the coolest looks on the market while keeping your drink hot or cold. Keep coffee hot for up to 6 hours and iced water chilled for 24.
Capacity: 12, 16, and 20 ounces | Dimensions: 2.9 x 2.9 x 7.9 inches (16-ounce model) | Color Options: Yes | Warranty: Lifetime limited
Best High-Tech: Ember Travel Mug²
Battery lasts up to three hours
360-degree leakproof lid
Stainless steel interior affects drink taste
Now you can keep your coffee hot through the morning with smart technology. The Ember Travel Mug² uses both app connectivity and a sleek, high-tech design to do so—and makes sure nothing spills or leaks in the process. You can use the thermos' touchscreen panel to control its temperature, or you can do so by pairing it with the Ember app on your smartphone; the panel can be particularly useful when you're driving and you don't want to pull out your phone. Our tester found that the thermos could keep her drinks hot for up to three hours and that the battery lasts for about as long. Another standout feature (one also convenient for driving) is the thermos' lid: it's leak-proof, only needs a push to open, and gives you a 360-degree drinking experience—meaning you can essentially sip from any side of the mug.
Capacity: 12 ounces | Dimensions: Mug is 3.14 x 7.9 inches and base is 5.63 x 3.88 inches | Color Options: No | Warranty: 1-year limited
"The lid is one of the mug’s best design features. ... When driving, I could lift the mug from any angle and begin drinking—no need to search for the side with the opening." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Affordable and built to last, the 16-ounce Thermos Vacuum Insulated Bottle (view at Amazon) gets the job done whether you're camping or commuting. Those looking for a larger item may prefer the Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle (view at Amazon), however. It's available in multiple sizes and equipped with a handy strap for when you're on the go.
What to Look for in a Coffee Thermos
Hot vs. cold
Will you be using your thermos for hot coffee every morning, or do you prefer iced coffee? Some mugs keep beverages cold for hours upon hours but lack in the heat department, and vice versa. No matter the type of drink you plan to store, there’s an option on our list that will suit your needs.
A huge coffee thermos may be great for the office, but if you’re bringing it on a walk or a bike ride, a smaller, lighter model may make more sense. Also, some larger thermoses might not fit in your car’s cupholder, so it’s wise to check those dimensions beforehand.
One factor that differentiates thermoses is the way you drink out of them. Typical options include a trigger-action lid, which is especially handy while sipping on the go, or a twist lid, which is common among leakproof models. Thermoses don't often have straws, like other reusable mug brands, but you can always buy a permanent straw separately if this is the style you prefer.
How do I clean a thermos?
Many thermoses are dishwasher safe, but you should check manufacturer recommendations beforehand. Some thermoses are labeled dishwasher safe, yet the brand may recommend cleaning them by hand to protect the material and finish. If your thermos is hand-wash only, you can likely clean it with water, dish soap, and a soft cloth or bottle brush. Start by filling the thermos with warm water and a few drops of dish soap, then let it sit for three to five minutes before scrubbing or rinsing. Silicone gaskets can be cleaned by soaking them in white vinegar, lemon juice, or a mixture or water and baking soda. Plenty of coffee and tea drinkers are familiar with set-in stains and odors in their thermoses; in those instances, cleaning with a combination of vinegar and baking soda should make your thermos like new again.
How long does coffee stay hot in a thermos?
The best thermoses can keep coffee hot up to 24 hours. These are usually vacuum insulated and made of stainless steel—a material which retains heat longer than plastic. The majority of thermoses fall below this 24-hour figure, however. A more common range is anywhere from 5 to 12 hours. You should preheat your thermos by rinsing it with hot water before use to maximize its heat retention. As for the iced coffee lovers, you're in luck because thermoses typically keep drinks cold longer than they keep drinks warm, no matter what material they are made from.
How do I dispose of an old thermos?
Metal thermoses cannot be recycled through regular curbside recycling pick-up. Instead, they can be recycled by dropping them off at your local metal recycling facility. Plastic travel mugs can usually be recycled through your standard home recycling process, but it varies based on the type of plastic (often labeled on the bottom of a mug) as well as local recycling policies. There are a number of ways to repurpose old thermoses too, like using them as vases, change holders, dry food containers, and more.
Can I add milk to my coffee if it’s in a thermos?
Can I put a thermos in the freezer?
Users should not put thermoses in the freezer. The liquid would freeze, expand, and likely damage the thermos—and that's not to mention the mess it would make.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Sam Hayes joined The Spruce in 2018 and has since written about a number of subjects. His work has also appeared in Verywell and TripSavvy. Sam graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with bachelor's degrees in journalism and political science.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight.