What We Like
Fits in most cup holders
Amazing heat retention; great for all-day coffee drinkers
Locking mechanism helps prevent leak
What We Don't Like
Plastic parts feel like they could break if dropped
Needs to be taken apart to be thoroughly cleane
If you like to drink coffee while commuting to work (or just get frustrated with beverages that don’t stay hot), you’ve probably considered a travel mug like the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug. Travel mugs are designed to keep beverages hot for hours on end while also ensuring against spills and messes you’d make while trying to travel with a traditional coffee mug. Like the Zojirushi, most are tall and narrow so they’re easy to hold in one hand. We tried out the Zojirushi for a few weeks to see how it’d hold up to being thrown in our purse, toted around the office, and alternated between hot and cold drinks. Read on for our assessment of its design, material, insulation performance, and price.
Design: Clever, useful features
The Zojirushi Mug looks a lot like others on the market. It’s tall with a flip-top lid and comes in a variety of color options from smoky blue to lavendar. Though it’s rather basic from the outside, it houses a few noteworthy features.
The first thing you’ll notice about this travel mug is that it has a flip top, which serves a few purposes. It helps prevent against leakage and spills by covering the sipping hole while also keeping the mouthpiece more sanitary, as it’s completely covered when not in use.
During testing, we found having the top locked down was an effective tool for preventing leaks.
A nice feature of this particular mug is that the flip-top cover has a lock. During testing, we found having the top locked down was an effective tool for preventing leaks. Both the lock and the button to flip the lid can be operated with one hand—a plus for on-the-go sips, like when you’re beind the wheel of a car.
Zojirushi also claims that the lock is designed in such a way as to prevent errant condensation droplets from flying at you when the lid opens. We didn't find that this bottle flung droplets any more or less than other mugs with flip-up tops, but if you’re concerned about coffee-staining a light-colored shirt, you’ll appreciate the extra effort. A potential design flaw in the Zojirushi Mug could be the number of parts. Aside from the bottle itself, there’s the lid, which has at least a half-dozen small parts, including a removable sipping piece, two rubber stoppers, a multi-piece plastic hinge, and at least one metal spring. In our testing, we ran into absolutely no issues with breaking or cracking, but the bottle doesn’t seem exceptionally durable. It should be more than enough for normal office use, but it may not be able to survive drops in your driveway or falls from the cupholder on a bike.
Material: Two layers of lightweight stainless steel
The Zojirushi Mug is made primarily from stainless steel (18/8 stainless steel, to be exact) while the lid and accompanying parts are made from BPA-free plastic.
The mug is quite lightweight at just 9 ounces, but it houses two layers of closely stacked steel. The small gap in between the chambers has the air vacuumed out, so it doesn’t conduct heat. What that means is that the heat from your hot coffee won’t transfer to the outer layer of the mug. This prevents it from being too hot to hold and ensures the heat stays trapped in the inner chamber.
Insulation Performance: Even better than promised
We can’t say enough good things about the insulative properties of this mug. We put it through its paces, filling it with coffee and checking in periodically to see how hot it stayed. We started our test at 4:50 PM, which turned out to be a mistake. With the lid closed the whole time, the coffee was still too hot to drink by 7:27 PM. At that point, we opened the top cover before checking in again at 10:09 PM, only to find it was still very hot. Rather than calling the test a success, we instead snapped the top back on and left it overnight. Excitingly, the coffee was still warm enough to drink at 8:15 AM the next morning. While it certainly wasn’t the same temperature as when it was poured in, it was still plenty warm enough. This blows Zojirushi’s own estimates out of the water, as the manufacturer website only claims to keep drinks hot (up to 147°F) for six hours. We think they could double that estimate and still be correct.
We can’t say enough good things about the insulative properties of this mug.
A highlight feature of the Zojirushi Mug is its wide opening, which allows for full-sized ice cubes. After a second test to see how long it could keep beverages cool for, we found it excelled again. We filled the mug at 9:40 AM with water and ice. It remained frozen all through that day and evening, and was still mostly frozen on the following morning. All results considered, we’d confident saying the Zojirushi can’t be beat when it comes to insulation.
Cleaning: Minorly cumbersome
While the Zojirushi Mug isn’t as difficult to clean as, say, a blender, it does have several different pieces that need to be cleaned thoroughly to avoid staining and mildew build-up. Fortunately, the plastic sipping piece and rubber gasket on the lid can be popped out easily and cleaned separately. Unfortunately, it’s not dishwasher-safe, so it’ll need to be hand-washed after each use.
Price: A fair price for a good product
If this is your first travel mug, $25 may seem like a lot to spend, but the Zojirushi’s price is fairly in line with the competition. A 12-ounce version is available for roughly $2 less, but we think the 16-ounce is the ideal size for most commuters. Considering how well this mug works, we’re pleased to see it’s priced below some less-effective competitors like the YETI Rambler.
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug vs. Contigo Autoseal West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug
Both the Zojirushi and Contigo are excellent options for car commuters, thanks to a tall, cup-holder-friendly design and spill-proof lids. They can also both be operated with one hand and were able to keep our coffee hot for six hours or more (though the Zojirushi mug was closer to 12). The decision should come down to what type of commuting you do. If you commute by bike or on foot and need a mug that’s completely spill-proof (even if turned upside down or thrown in a backpack) go with the Contigo.
The best option for all-day coffee drinkers.
Though Zojirushi promises to keep beverages hot for six hours, in reality, it kept them hot for nearly double that time. Though the mug is a bit annoying to clean, its stellar insulation and middle-of-the-road price point have us wholly won over.
- Product Name Stainless Steel Mug
- Product Brand Zojirushi
- MPN SM-KHE48AG
- Price $25.89
- Weight 9 oz.
- Product Dimensions 2.8 x 2.8 x 9.1 in.
- Color Smoky blue, champagne gold, black, lavender pink, stainless, deep cherry, emerald
- Material Stainless steel and BPA-free plastic
- Warranty: 5-year manufacturer’s warranty covers defects in workmanship, but not normal wear and tear or cosmetic issues