You spend a lot of time and money seeking out and making the best cup of coffee you possibly can, so the last thing you need is your coffee growing cold while you’re busy working or traveling.
There are many options for transporting your coffee that come in all styles and sizes. We’re looking at two big names in the “keeping hot things hot and cold things cold” world: Zojirushi and Thermos.
One company has a storied history of making vacuum insulators to exacting specifications. The other is so successful that their brand name is what we use for the collective noun.
Not to worry—we’ll break it all down for you and help you decide which one is best for you.
Zojirushi has been in business for over 100 years and started with a line of hand-blown vacuum insulated glass liners for carafes. The concept of vacuum insulation was a breakthrough at the time. Zojirushi now makes rice cookers, coffee makers, and a full line of insulated mugs, bottles, and lunch jars.
Zojirushi claims thair vacuum insulation will provide superior heat retention, meaning your drink will stay hot or cold for hours. Their containers are built with a copper or aluminum (depending on the model) layer to reflect heat, which will keep your drink at the temperature you want.
Thermos is no stranger to the thermal container either. Founded in 1904, Thermos claims to be the first company to commercialize and develop vacuum insulated products. The company’s name is based on the Greek word THERME, which means “heat.” Thermos currently produces a full line of mugs, water bottles, lunch jars, and coolers.
Thermos also relies on vacuum insulation technology, creating a barrier between external and internal temperatures, 12 hours for hot beverages, and up to 24 hours for cold drinks.
Zojirushi Vacuum Insulated Mug
The Zojirushi SM-SD48AM is a sleek-looking, slightly tapered insulated mug that comes in over 20 different color styles. The lid features a safety lock and a button to pop it up for effortless one-handed control.
The flip-top lid has a cool feature that opens the top slightly, holds, and then opens all the way. That allows condensation build-up on the lid to fall back into the mug, rather than splash onto you.
It has a built-in air vent on the mouthpiece to avoid vapor-lock and allows your beverage to flow smoothly, not gush or overflow. The lid also contains a safety lock to keep the top from opening unexpectedly. It also disassembles for easy cleaning, which is essential, as the Zojirushi is hand-washable only.
The opening is 1-⅝”, which is large enough to allow you to add ice.
Things We Like
- The Zojirushi does a fantastic job of keeping your coffee hot all day.
- It’s pretty unlikely you’ll have issues with leakage.
- It comes in a range of bright, exciting colors.
Things We Don’t Like
- It might work TOO well; you could find yourself waiting to get at that hot coffee.
- If any of the inner lid pieces happen to break, you’ll be looking at a steep replacement part cost.
- You might find that the lid holds the taste and odor of previous drinks, which may be a concern if you’re using the Zojirushi for both coffee and water.
Thermos Compact Stainless Steel Bottle
Thermos uses vacuum insulation technology for consistent temperature retention; they claim that this insulated bottle can stay hot for 12 hours and keep a cold beverage cold for 24 hours, which is perfect for all your caffeinated beverages.
It has a double-wall stainless steel interior with a twistable inner cap to seal in the heat. The exterior doesn’t heat up and doesn’t sweat with cold beverages. Because of the internal cap system, you might find adding ice a bit tricky.
This model is dishwasher-safe and has a removable gasket. It comes with a lid that doubles as a cup rather than a spout or mouthpiece.
Things We Like
- Thermos is a dependable name brand, and this model won’t give you any trouble with leaks or dependability.
- The gasket in this model can be removed and cleaned to avoid any lingering smells or tastes.
Things We Don’t Like
- Its style is a bit lacking; this model won’t win any fashion awards.
- You need to be careful about sealing the inner cap; otherwise, you’ll find the heat will dissipate more quickly than expected.
- The inner cap and lid cup make for more pieces to keep track of during washing and drying.
Is portability a big issue for you?
Both models are pretty lightweight; the Zojirushi and Thermos models weigh in at eight ounces. The Thermos design is cylindrical with no wrist strap; you might find it a little cumbersome to carry. It’s about two and ½ inches across. The Zojirushi’s lid makes it a bit easier to grip than the Thermos. The Zojirushi is two and ¾ inches across.
Are you looking for style?
Both models will handle the temperature of your beverages with no worries, but the Thermos design is a little dull. It doesn’t have a lot of character. If you’re after something flashy and color coordination is important, you’ll want to go with the Zojirushi.
Will they stretch your budget?
Neither of these models is particularly cheap, but they are both solid performing insulated mugs. You can likely find something less expensive, though you might find yourself regretting that decision if your coffee is colder than you want. Both of these models are priced similarly, so no points to either side.
You Can’t Go Wrong
Both Zojirushi and Thermos make a solid product that will keep your coffee hot and your water cold. Cost-wise, they’re about the same. The one area that separates the two is look and style. Zojirushi makes their insulated mugs in a wide variety of styles and colors, while Thermos is pretty limited in their palate and shape.