What is the best reusable coffee cup material?
Stainless steel coffee cups
Stainless steel is arguably the best material for reusable coffee cups. A double-walled, vacuum-insulated stainless-steel cup is like a thermos: highly insulated to preserve your coffee’s heat without burning your hands. Stainless steel is also very durable, easy to clean and relatively lightweight. This is probably the greenest, cleanest reusable coffee cup material. Many even come with spill-proof lids. One downside is the slight metallic flavour that might affect your coffee’s taste over time – rinse your cup with some baking soda to fix this problem. Try quality brands like Hydro Flask, Fressko, KeepCup or Klean Kanteen for a stainless-steel coffee cup.
Ceramic coffee cups
Ceramic is a very popular reusable coffee cup material. Because it is an ‘inert’ material, it won’t retain odour or flavour, meaning that one quick rinse and you can enjoy a cup of tea or water without any coffee aftertaste. Ceramic also retains heat well, which is why the mugs in your cupboard are all made from this material. That said, ceramic is heavy to carry; it can also chip and stain over time. Frank Green is a great brand to try for a ceramic coffee cup.
Coffee waste husk coffee cups
“Husk coffee cups are amazing,” Elise said. “They are really durable, and they exist in a sustainable closed-loop system. They’re also a beautiful-looking cup.” These reusable coffee cups are sustainably made from the waste husk left over from coffee production. The Huskee brand even allows you to return worn-out cups to designated collection points, ensuring that they will be re-purposed into new products.
Bamboo coffee cups
Bamboo is a very eco-friendly reusable coffee cup material: it’s a renewable, fast-growing source and biodegrades once retired from use. It’s also naturally strong, durable, lightweight and antibacterial. Because they’re made from natural materials, however, bamboo coffee cups may not last as long as other materials and don’t retain heat.
Glass coffee cups
Glass looks stylish and doesn’t absorb any odours or flavours. “Coffee purists prefer glass coffee cups because the belief is that coffee tends to taste better in glass,” Elise says. “We did a big taste test with a range of different materials, and glass always won out.” On the other hand, glass can be heavy and prone to shattering if dropped. It is rarely insulated, so it doesn’t do well at preserving your drink’s heat. It can also burn your fingers when hot – although many glass cups come with a silicone band to solve this problem. If a glass reusable coffee cup is double-walled and therefore insulated, the glass needs to be made even thinner, which makes it more prone to breaking. Joco and KeepCup are quality reusable glass coffee cup brands to try.
Silicone coffee cups
Like its plastic variants, silicone coffee cups are lightweight, durable, transportable, and often antibacterial. It’s an excellent heat-resistant material, so it’s often used as the lid and/or heat grip on other reusable coffee cups. Silicone is also ‘inert’, so it won’t absorb odours or flavours. Unlike plastic, which is petroleum-based, silicone is created from silica (a product derived from sand) with some added chemicals. Some of these chemicals are derived from fossil fuels, however, and silicone takes up to 500 years to decompose once thrown away. That’s still much better than going through hundreds of single-use plastic/paper coffee cups, but there are more sustainable options. Crumple and HUNU are great collapsible, leak-proof silicone reusable coffee cups to try.
BPA-free plastic coffee cups
Reusable plastic coffee cups are super lightweight and often ‘crumple’ or fold down when empty for easy packing and transport. Most are also dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. Just make sure to check that any plastic you drink from is BPA-free. Plastic does tend to absorb odour and flavour over time, so you will have to reserve the cup for coffee only. It’s also not a particularly environmentally friendly alternative to single-use coffee cups. Each time you wash your plastic coffee cup, you’re sending microplastics down the drain. Marine wildlife like plankton, fish, sea turtles and even whales mistake these tiny plastic pieces for food, which can be fatal. If they survive, those microplastics end up in us when we eat affected seafood. If you use plastic reusable coffee cups, stick to a reputable brand like KeepCup, rCUP or Frank Green.