I have been on a life long, well actually a quest over the past year to find the perfect way to keep my coffee hot, one of the most important beverages I drink throughout the day, warm. Sit back, get comfortable and get ready to find out the best insulated coffee mugs to keep your coffee warm longer.
Stanley One Handed Vacuum Mug
I tested the Stanley One Handed Vacuum Mug in both the 16 and 20 ounce sizes, now these are not the most practical for carrying into the backcountry as they are a little larger and heavier than the other mugs listed in this story, however it does make up for that by becoming the only mug I use when working my night job. If you work in a truck, or out of an office and need a mug that you can easily pick up and go the One Handed Vacuum Mug from Stanley is a solid choice. The only problem I ever had with this thing is from time to time the vacuum suction is so strong it can be a royal pain in the ass to remove the cap, that or I just need to start lifting weights. However, all kidding aside, having a strong vacuum seal on a coffee mug that can keep your beverages warm for up to 7 hours is not a bad thing at all. [Purchase: $34.95]
Hydro Flask Coffee Mug
One of the more practical ways for bringing hot beverages into the backcountry is via a Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Coffee & Tea Mug. The 18 ounces size can easily fit inside your backpack, fits in every cup holder it has met and can keep beverages warm for hours on end.
My only problem with this amazing mug is the stupid flip top opening. Having a flip top may be practical and fast way to get to your coffee, however if the lid isn’t fully locked into place your SOL and your coffee will happily coat the inside of your backpack, the floor of your truck etc etc.. If the Hydro Flask team can change the design a little bit this will once again be my go-to mug for backcountry adventures.. [Purchase: $21.95]
Figured I would save the best for last, ahh the Camelbak Forge! I have been putting this mug through the paces, taking it with me across the country and back a few times, up many a mountain tops and it is the clear winner when it comes to taking hot beverages into the backcountry and here’s why. First of all the Camelbak Forge is the best insulated coffee mugs with a handle as it’s essentially spill proof thanks to a super fun trigger activated coffee dispenser. Um, that actually sounds complicated however it’s a one of the first travel mug’s with a “self-sealing cap and lock-open button combination” and can keep beverages warm for up to 6 hours.
*Warning ~ When you hit the trigger for the first time each day steam of smoke billows out of the top. So if your tired, and not paying attention, you just may find yourself waking up really fast without ever taking a sip of coffee. That being said, you know the vacuum insulation is truly working on this mug every time you push the trigger. [Purchase: $41.95]
Keep in mind when the brands mention how long these mugs can keep coffee warm the test are usually in a controlled environment, ie an office. When I tested these and where you will end up using them come with a totally different set of challenges, temperatures and conditions.
What I have found is that none of the mugs listed above actually keep coffee piping hot for the time they mentioned especially here in the Tetons, in mid-winter above 10,000 feet. However, that’s needless to say, my advise though to maximize these mugs is a simple trick. Run some warm water in your mug before adding in your coffee, your welcome and be sure to support these brands. They are doing it right!
What about Brewing?
There’s something about having a cup of coffee in the mountains that makes it absolutely unbeatable by any café experience in the lowlands. Whether it’s the altitude, the clean mountain air, or just a general feeling of being at peace, you can’t top a mountainside cup of coffee.
Whether you’re in the mountains or not, though, you want to make sure that every cup you brew is of the best quality possible. Above 15,000 feet or at sea level, there’s no excuse for brewing sub-par coffee. These five items will help make sure you have the best cup of coffee possible at all times, whether you have the time to brew a good cup at home or you need to grab one on the go.
Chemex Coffee Maker
You might not be familiar with Chemex, but they’re consistently rated very highly among coffeemakers for the quality of the coffee they produce. The instructions list eight different steps from grinding to drinking, but the process is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. And the coffee is really, really great.
As a bonus, the Chemex doesn’t take up much room and looks really nice in your kitchen, so it’s perfect for small apartments or people who like to keep their kitchen counter tidy. It’s also available in three-, six-, and eight-cup models, so you can pick the one that’s right for your addiction—er, passion. [Purchase: $40.49]
Texas Coffee Grinder
Great coffee starts with high-quality beans and a grinder that releases the full flavors from them. Your tiny electric Mr. Coffee grinder will do the job, but does it really add to the overall coffee experience? You won’t know what you’re missing until you try out a nice burr grinder; it gives you a better grind and releases more flavor and aroma than a blade grinder.
These unique, handmade grinders give you the perfect grind; choose the right grade for your coffee and use the hand crank to turn your coffee beans into highly flavorful grounds without heating them up enough to affect the taste, like you would with an electric grinder. And, like the Chemex coffeemakers above, the super classy construction will add some flair to your kitchen (it makes a great gift for coffee connoisseurs)
Viante CAF-200 Filtered Kettle
Pour-over coffee requires hot water, and a kettle makes the process much faster than boiling a pot on the stove. Properly filtered water will make your coffee taste a lot better, too, so combining a quick-boiling kettle with filtration is a great way to improve the taste of your coffee. There are plenty of options out there.
If you want the ultimate in pure, filtered water, the Viante CAF-200 will provide it, with a filter that gets rid of chlorine as well as small sediments; but it will set you back $97. On the more affordable end of the spectrum is this Hamilton Beach glass kettle with a mesh filter. It won’t catch nearly as many particles, but it’s much better than using water straight from the tap. [Purchase: $79.99]
Don’t Live with Sub-Par Coffee
Many coffee drinkers don’t realize what they’re missing by using sub-par equipment to prepare their brew. Upgrading to a nicer experience isn’t cheap, but it will make a huge difference in the quality of your coffee. It’s an investment in your morning, which is really an investment in the quality of your entire day. Don’t skimp on it!
What are your favorite coffee-brewing implements? Share them in the comments below so we can all check them out.