“Single-use” was Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2018 – and for good reason. It seems we’re finally waking up to the impact that single-use plastic is having on the planet, with documentaries such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II serving as a rallying cry for us to clean up our act.
Takeaway coffee cups form a significant part of the problem. While you may assume that they’re recyclable, most single-use coffee cups contain a thin plastic lining.
In fact, according to Paul Morozzo, a political campaigner for Greenpeace, the UK throws away 2.5 billion coffee cups each year and less than 1 per cent of these are recycled.
He says: “Switching to a reusable coffee cup is a great way to cut your plastic footprint, and lots of businesses now offer discounts to customers who do this – so it’s win-win.”
To help you on your way, we’ve tried out a wide range of reusable coffee cups and chosen the best on the market.
We tested each product on the go over several days, assessing leakproofness, portability, the materials used and whether it kept our coffee hotter for longer.
Our final pick ranges from sturdy flask-like models to those designed to look and function like your traditional takeaway cup.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formd from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
The rCup is pretty unique. It’s the brainchild of pioneering eco product-design company ashortwalk and environmental consultancy Nextex, and its outer, thermal layer is made entirely from used coffee cups. The companies have developed a hardy resin they call NextCupCycle, which is born from both the plastic and the thick paper of throwaway cups.
The final result is the rCup: a sleek, reusable cup with a push-close seal and capacity for 360° drinking. It’s also purported to be 100 per cent leak proof, a claim we found to be true regardless of any amount of jiggling in transit. Our coffee was warm enough to drink an hour after pouring too.
The rCup is dishwasher safe, 100 per cent recyclable and free of BPA (that’s bisphenol A, an industrial chemical that’s often used in plastics and that can potentially release harmful toxins). The brand will also replace worn or damaged seals for free.
Choose between a 227ml or 340ml cup with a teal, mustard or pink lid, and a black or cream body. All round, it’s a reliable option with impressive eco credentials.
Straightforward but effortlessly chic, Frank Green’s offering sits somewhere between a small flask and a more traditional cup.
While there’s now a stainless-steel option available, the Aussie brand’s original cup is made from a recyclable co-polymer, that’s free of both BPA and BPS (another potentially harmful chemical) and is comfortingly robust. We found the push button on top to be a little stiff, but that’s a small compromise given the cup kept our coffee hot for around 20 minutes. There were no leaks either, even when it was laid sideways at the bottom of a backpack – just remember to screw the lid on tight and make sure the drinking hole is clicked closed.
If you’re a design fiend, you’ll love the fact that your cup is customisable. Decide between a 230ml or 340ml product and combine colours such as nude rose and harbour mist grey for an up-to-date look. This one’s ideal for eco warriors with a keen sense of style.
A concept from cookware giant Tefal, this smart travel mug scores highly for its ability to lock in heat. Our coffee was still warm some six hours after we filled it up (Tefal promises four) and our cold drink remained chilly all day too. It’s the mixture of stainless steel and soft BPA-free silicone that keeps your brew toasty.
You open and close the cup by a simple button on the top, which allows for 360° drinking. Given its sturdiness, the cup is little heavier than some other products tested, but still light enough to carry around without too much fuss. It delivered on its claim to be “100 per cent leak-proof” too.
Coming in plain black, blue or red, it’s not quite as easy on the eye as some of the other products tested – but what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for with sheer quality. This is a practical, no-frills option from a trusted brand.
Hydro Flask is on a self-professed mission to “save the world from the lukewarm”. They promise to keep your coffee piping hot and your cool beverages ice-cold for up to 6 hours and 24 hours respectively. Indeed, we found our coffee was warm enough to drink come 3pm, even though we made it just before 9am. Despite its hot contents, the flask’s body remained cool to the touch.
Hydro Flask’s secret is the use of pro-grade stainless steel and a double-wall vacuum design that maintains the temperature of your drink. The lid (dubbed the Hydro flip lid) has a mechanism that can be easily clicked open and shut with one hand, and we found it didn’t spill a drop when on the go.
Design-wise, it’s smart and fuss free. There’s a rainbow of 11 colours available, from Lemon yellow to Pacific blue, and you can opt for a size of 354ml, 473ml or 592ml (roughly corresponding to small, medium and large in an average coffee shop). It’s also BPA free and not too heavy considering its robustness. A dependable option whatever your lifestyle.
While every product on this list has green credentials, Ecoffee’s cup goes the extra mile. It’s made from the fibre of “naturally organic” bamboo which, according to the brand, is the “world’s fastest-growing, most sustainable crop”. It’s free of BPA and phthalates (another kind of chemical) and is completely biodegradable.
Though not as leakproof as some other models, the lid is secure, modelled on a traditional takeaway cup, and its soft material makes it comfortable to drink from. Our coffee had cooled within the hour, but the product’s light weight and grippable heat sleeve means it’s ideal to carry in one hand and drink from on the go.
It gets points for style too. You could go for a bold block colour, from eye-popping orange “Mrs Mills” to bright turquoise “Inca”, or patterns range from florals to polka dots. Our favourite design is ‘Like, totally!’ (pictured) with its geometric flowers and rosy pink lid and heat sleeve. Ecoffee Cups are available in 250ml, 340ml, 400ml and 475ml.
As the name suggests, the KeepCup brew range was created with coffee drinkers in mind. It’s made from durable, tempered soda-lime glass and its leak-proof design means you can pop it in your bag while travelling (we’re pleased to report no spillages).
The lid has a nifty “twist and click” plug: a moveable part turns to reveal a small drinking hole, and it can be slipped back into position and snapped shut when you’re on the move. Our coffee stayed warm enough to drink for about an hour.
The silicone heat sleeve is fixed well, and fully protects your hands from the glass, which can become pretty hot when your coffee is just brewed. The sleeve is also BPA and BPS free.
KeepCup has a huge range of products, and you can design your own bespoke cup by mixing and matching the colour of the lid, plug and sleeve. Size options are 227ml or 340ml. A good-value pick.
According to its makers, this simple, stylish cup was designed for “optimistic drinkers and half-full thinkers”. It’s crafted from thick hand-blown glass, meaning it’s hardwearing and also 100 per cent chemical free, so it won’t impair the taste of your brew. Sol cups are also microwave and dishwasher safe.
A word of warning: the glass becomes extremely hot when your coffee is first poured, but a silicone sleeve keeps your hands protected and adds a pop of colour too. The matching lid snaps on firmly, but is not leak-proof. If you want to slip your cup in your bag, though, you can buy a little waterproof pouch for it – the pouch’s silicone interior is waterproof, protecting your things from any remaining dregs of coffee.
Pick between a 236ml, 354ml or 473 ml cup and 13 tasteful colour options. The attractive box it arrives in means this one makes a lovely gift too.
FOSH, an acronym that stands for “for our sea’s health”, is dedicated to mitigating the harmful impact single-use plastic has on our oceans. Their stainless-steel coffee cup uses vacuum technology to keep your drinks at their desired temperature, and we found our steaming coffee was still hot enough to drink four hours later.
The lid snaps on and off and you drink from a small opening, much like a traditional takeaway cup. Sadly, given this opening, the design isn’t leak proof, so it’s not one to toss in your backpack. But the 454ml product is perfect for carrying on short journeys, or for sitting upright on your desk after your morning-coffee dash.
FOSH’s BPA-free coffee cups have style as well as substance too. Creative designs range from a marble effect to a striking graffiti print, while a durable powder coating means they’ll stay in tip-top condition. A thoroughly worthwhile investment.
EKOBO has many eco-friendly products in its portfolio, and the brand’s reusable coffee cup stands up to the market leaders. It’s not spill-proof, and it doesn’t keep your coffee hot for much longer than a takeaway cup would, but it deserves recognition for its eco-friendly materials and its elegant design.
The cup itself is made from natural bamboo fibre, while the neat silicone top is BPA and phthalate free. The lid can also double up as a coaster once you’re settled at your final destination. Its material also means it’s tough and the cup’s outside is not too hot to touch, even when it’s filled with just-brewed coffee. You can pop it in the dishwasher, but keep it out of the microwave.
The minimalist designs come in four solid colours: orange-red, yellow, black and off-white, the bamboo’s natural colour. If you fancy, pair your new cup with EKOBO’s Bento lunch box, which is also made from bamboo fibre.
The aptly named Pokito cup is a winner if you’re short on space since it collapses right down to a third of its fully extended size. Depending on your coffee order you can pop your cup up into a range of volumes: 230ml, intended for an espresso, 475ml or the full-size 350ml.
The built-in insulation kept our coffee warm for just over an hour, and the spill-proof lid twists on firmly. The slightly fanned base means the cup is near impossible to tip over, and it’s extra light too.
Both the cup’s soft, adjustable body and its harder base, heat sleeve and lid are made from recyclable materials that are BPA free and also dishwasher safe. This is the ultimate in convenience and sustainability.
If you’re after a design that replicates the look and feel of your regular takeaway coffee cup – but without the harmful impact on the environment – ashortwalk’s rCup delivers. It’s also light, leakproof, and we love that it’s made from otherwise non-recyclable single-use coffee cups. If you need something that will keep your coffee hot for hours, plump for either the Hydro Flask coffee or the Frank Green original reusable cup.
3 Ml Small Glass Dropper Bottle
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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