The Holy Grail of… well… grails.

coffee mugs, insulated mugs

Choosing the right insulated mug turns out to not be as simple a task as one might think – there are in the neighborhood of 10,000 options between all of the manufactures we work with. So how do you select the right one?

Beyond the big picture things like “how does it look?” are some nuts-and-bolts things that people don’t think about until it is too late. We ordered samples of a number of “high end” insulated mugs and shared them with a bunch of people to see what sort of issues came up. Here’s what we learned.

  • — Most are a pain to clean. We could not find a single quality insulated mug that is dishwasher safe. The closest is a ceramic mug (not actually insulated, but still a potential option), but the silicon lids that these come with are not dishwasher safe. Most are tall and skinny which makes cleaning it by hand a hassle too: If you can’t fit your hand inside of it you’ll need a tool of some sort to reach the bottom.
  • Very few are microwave safe. Metal is great for durability, but not so good for reheating. The ceramic mug does solve this problem.
  • A ceramic mug, which solves the above problems, has some drawbacks. It is breakable. It does not insulate terribly well. And if the liquid in it is hot, the mug itself may be too hot to hold. So if a ceramic mug, you’ll want one with a handle or a sleeve (which will cause dishwasher and/or microwave problems)
  • The drinking spout makes a big difference in the usefulness of the product. The best looking (by a very narrow margin) mug is almost impossible to drink out of when the beverage is hot: the lip is so deep that you must tilt it significantly making it hard to sip. Our favorite lid is one that allows you to drink from any side. Alas this one must be taken apart to clean. In the samples that we reviewed here at Reno Type it was on the tallest and skinniest mug, making the overall cleaning a real chore.
  • All automobile cup holders are not the same. The skinny mugs are sometimes too skinny for modern cup holders, subjecting them to the possibility of spills. The wider base mugs sometimes don;t fit in upholders at all.
  • A tall mug may not fit into a single-cup brewing machine.
  • There is no obvious correlation between cost and quality beyond the most obvious: the absolute cheapest is very likely to be the worst.

The bottom line is that every design has some drawbacks. Ultimately you have to decide what is important to you. Always keep in mind though, that anytime someone uses an item with your logo that you gave to them, they will associate the experience with you. This is why we at Reno Type work to make sure you have all the options and facts before you make a decision. And if you want to touch or see any of these mugs “in real life,” come on by the office!

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