Taste The Earth Blog

How Long Do Travel Mugs Keep Coffee Hot And Drinks Cold?

by Mark Morphew on Dec 08, 2021

How Long Do Travel Mugs Keep Coffee Hot And Drinks Cold?

Whether you're trying to be more eco-friendly or you want to streamline your morning routine, one of the best ways to accomplish this is to bring your own drink with you each day when you leave the house.

Travel mugs are perfect for just that, and almost all of the best mugs can keep your hot drinks hot for hours and your cold beverages ice cold for even longer.

Plus, think of all that time you'll save, not to mention the money you'll be saving by not visiting your favorite coffee shop throughout the day.

Travel mug technology has come leaps and bounds in the past few decades, so whether you prefer your beverages hot or cold, you can rest assured that you won't be disappointed.

But before you go running out the door, you might want to know just how long your travel mug will keep your coffee warm, and if you're taking an ice cold beverage with you, how long will it stay cold.

Whether you're commuting to work or heading out on an early-morning hike, you can find the answers below.

The Science Behind Keeping Your Drinks Hot And Cold

Before we get ahead of ourselves, it's worth delving a little deeper into the actual science behind it all. To do that, you'll need to think back to the days of those boring high school physics lessons. Remember, conduction? Okay, maybe not, but bear with me.

Conduction is when objects with varying temperatures touch. When it comes to your hot coffee, you can think of it as when the hot molecules collide with the cooler room temperature molecules.

The hotter, faster molecules transfer their energy to the slower, cooler molecules. This is why the air just above your piping hot coffee feels warmer than the air further away from your coffee.

Even pouring cups of coffee will expose those hot molecules to the colder air molecules, and let's not forget the cup of mug you're pouring into is also cooler than the hot coffee.

Simply put, the more exposure your coffee or other hot beverage has, the more quickly it cools.

On the flip side, the same principles also apply to cold drinks.

The best way to keep your drinks hotter for longer or your cold beverages cool is to use a thermal insulated tumbler or mug.

Okay. So that's some of the boring stuff out of the way. Let's dive in and see how long a travel mug can actually keep your drinks hot or cold - the answers might surprise you.

How Do Insulated Tumblers Work?

The vacuum insulation sandwiched in the layers in travel tumblers and mugs does an impressive job of keeping your beverages at the right temperature.

The principle seems relatively straightforward. Take hot drinks, for example, the vacuum prevents heat from escaping and stops the cold from coming in. However, some serious physics is going on under the 'hood.' We don't want to bore you with the details, but here's a brief summary.

There isn't a set rule on how to insulate when it comes to travel tumblers. Different manufacturers take slightly different approaches. However, the fundamentals tend to stay the same - you can't argue with science.

Many travel tumblers feature either foam insulation or air insulation, with many of the best opting for a vacuum sealed air gap layer, just like our Taste The Earth insulated tumblers.

The two wall air gap serves two purposes. It helps to eliminate any condensation building up on the outside of the tumbler, and it does a great job at maintaining the temperature of your beverage, albeit hot or cold.

The air is completely removed from the vacuum layer, and because heat cannot transfer without air, the vacuum layer does an impressive job at keeping your beverage temperature constant - staying hot on the inside and cold to the touch.

The same goes for cold drinks.

The cold beverage is kept cold inside the tumbler, and heat from outside has a hard time getting in. Add some ice cubes, and your icy cold drink will stay cold for even longer.

How Long Do Travel Mugs Keep Coffee Hot?

Whether you're jumping in the car to take the kids to school or you're sitting at your desk at work, travel mugs and tumblers are the most convenient way to keep your chosen beverage hot throughout the day.

But how long can you expect to enjoy your hot drink?

Many factors can affect the length of time a travel tumbler or mug can keep your beverage hot, such as the materials used, design, and the quality of the travel mug.

The good news is that many of the best travel mugs have been rigorously tested, and their ability to keep your drink hot for many hours all comes down to science.

Stainless steel travel mugs come out on top for their ability to retain hot temperatures. This is because steel condenses on the inside, which aids in insulation.

Pair this with other materials and sandwich various layers together, and you have a travel mug that can hold temperatures for very long periods.

But how long? You can expect a good quality travel tumbler to keep your hot beverages hot for up to 6 hours.

Pretty impressive.

Compare that to regular plastic travel mugs, which can only maintain the temperature of your favorite hot beverage for an hour or two.

Tips To Keep Coffee Hot In Your Tumbler For Even Longer

As impressive as a good quality thermal travel mug is, there are still a few steps you can take to keep your drinks hot for even longer.

Preheat Your Travel Mug

It doesn't matter if your travel mug or tumbler is made from steel, glass, or ceramic, if it's cold when you add your hot drink, you're going to reduce the temperature of your hot drink. Remember our science lesson at the beginning of this article?

Whenever possible, try to preheat your mug or tumbler, pour some boiling water, let it sit for a minute or two, and then discard the water and add your chosen hot drink.

Trust us. You'll notice the difference.

Use A Tight Fitting Lid

It might not be super obvious, but a good tight fitting lid will lock and trap the heat inside of the mug or tumbler. Without a lid, all of the steam will escape and take some of the heat away with it.

The material isn't super important. As long as the lid fits snuggly and tight and stops the steam from escaping, it will work.

Add Extra Insulation

Many of the best travel mugs do an excellent job keeping hot drinks hot by using proven insulation technology and a specialized design.

Our ceramic coated travel tumblers, for example, come with four layers. A 304 stainless steel outer wall, a vacuum sealed air gap, another stainless steel inner layer, and a ceramic inner layer.

All of these combined layers provide impressive heat retention, and as an added bonus, the ceramic coating stops any unpleasant metal tastes or smells.

But even if your travel tumbler has the best insulation in the world, you can still increase that by adding additional layers.

Try wrapping your tumbler or mug with a silicone cover or an even sock, and you'll be surprised at how much longer your drinks stay hot.

More Volume: Hotter For Longer

Buy a bigger tumbler. Take coffee as an example. A large cup of coffee will stay hotter for longer compared to a smaller cup. This is because there is more hot liquid and therefore more thermal mass, which takes longer to cool.

If you want to enjoy your hot coffee throughout the day at work, it sometimes pays to make a larger tumbler of coffee, even if you don't think you can drink it all.

How about cold drinks? How long can they stay cold? Let's find out.

How Long Do Travel Mugs Keep Drinks Cold?

The sun's out, it's getting crazy humid, and the last thing you want is a hot drink. This is when a travel tumbler can become your best friend.

Using the same technology that keeps your hot drink hot for extended periods, cold drinks can stay cold for even longer.

In fact, a good quality travel tumbler made of stainless steel and with vacuum technology can keep a cold beverage ice cold for up to 12 hours.

Now that is impressive!

The Bottom Line

Let's be honest. There is nothing better than having a large cup of piping hot coffee standing on your desk, and on the weekend, a chilly cool beer while sitting on the porch.

Now you know just how long coffee can stay hot and other beverages cold. With this new found knowledge, you can plan ahead, knowing you'll always have a drink to hand.

But remember, the quality of the material used in the travel tumbler or mug can significantly affect its ability to retain the temperatures for extended periods.

With so many different types of insulated travel tumblers and mugs in the marketplace, finding the perfect one might take some trial and error.

However, one thing we can say is that our range of ceramic coated travel tumblers ticks all of the right boxes for keeping your drinks hot and cold.

Plus, our range also has the added benefit of no unpleasant metal tastes or unwanted smells thanks to the "taste lock" ceramic layer.


Can Heat Transfer Through A Vacuum?

Yes, it is possible for heat to transfer through a vacuum. This doesn't make vacuum insulated travel tumblers or mugs less effective as long as you purchase a well built tumbler or mug that incorporates other technologies and additional layers.

What Happens To Heat In A Vacuum?

A vacuum will absorb heat which in turn increases its temperature. Eventually, thermal equilibrium is reached, and some of the heat atoms begin to evaporate.

However, almost all of the best vacuum tumblers or mugs will have some sort of inner reflective coating to help reduce the amount of heat from getting in touch with the vacuum.

What Does Vacuum Insulation Mean?

If you're shopping for a new travel tumbler and you see the words vacuum insulation, that simply means that it features an insulating layer between two inner layers which could be stainless steel or even glass.

When combined with other elements, these layers keep your drinks either hot or cold.


Mark MorphewMark Morphew is a freelance writer specializing in digital marketing and the hospitality sector. He helps coffee, catering, and food tech businesses create better content that drives more traffic and increases customer engagement.