blogitto ergo sum

January 2, 2017

#226 – Commuter Mug Anyone?

Filed under: Eat, Drink, Enjoy,mmmmmmarketing,Opinionated — yael [ya-el] wagner @ 23:10
Tags: , ,

Going somewhere? Traveling? BYOC.commuterMUGS-06And it’s not champagne we are talking about.  It’s about the cup and the coffee.

I’ve long ago accepted the fact that more often than not, i’m not going to truly enjoy the over-priced latte i order and pay for, even when being “penalized” for those extra shots of espresso i ask for in my attempt to make it better.
On the other hand, I can do something about maintaining the temperature of whatever the under caffeinated super-pretentious barista put in my mug.

When you are in product management, you can’t help to.  you think of any product or service in terms of features, requirements, tradeoffs, usability, user experience, the cost of a feature vs. the value the end-user [Me, Me!] will attach to it… it simply becomes part of you, your assessment process of most things. honestly, I can’t help it.  Food may be one exception.  As for the rest, the PM approach works.  it’s most obvious when i go car shopping.  Most of the features pitched by the smooth, oh too smooth, sales guy are simply irrelevant in the long run.  Color included.  yes, white is better than black in sunny climates, but won’t break the deal.

So what makes a travel mug an exceptional one?  The obvious top two features woul


Contigo redesigned cap for ease of cleaning

d be to safely contain the liquid and maintain temperature over an extended period of time.  These two, however, are far from enough, and yet many mugs fail.  Don’t say a word of Starbucks or Peet’s’ mugs; they are 99% OEMed anyway.


Over the years, I’ve tried brands and non-brands, including Aladdin, Thermos, and Contigo.  Even There is plenty to choose from you may say, but… they are wrong.  Very few mugs actually deliver on what i think should be the basic set of requirements, going from the hardest to the trivial:

  • Keep it hot.  I mean REALLY hot, for at least four hours – critical for a flight or a road trip, but also for the workday – all places that rarely offer good coffee.
  • Keep me and my bag dry.  Spill and leak proof.  one should be aware that leak proof protects you less than a spill proof.
  • Usable – easy to drink from.  Usability is implied or included in most of the other features, but, when looking at a mug that meets all other nose-cuprequirements, but has for a lid a contraption that keeps hitting your nose or detaches from the mug only to get lost and render the mug useless you realize that some mug designs were led by the technologists, forgetting the usability is a key feature, neither an afterthought, nor a marketing nice-to-have thing.
  • Easy to carry, travel with.  This is tricky.  while handles are useful, when packing,
    traveling, trying to fit in a bag or a backpack, that handle spells trouble.  Miles of travel taught me that the best option is a no-handle mug with a built in D-ring or a clip to attach it.  Haven’t found even one mug to hook up with that meets the two previous requirements
  • Easy to clean.  This is such a basic, fundamental requirement, and yet it seems that all manufacturers, without an exception fail at one level or another.
  • Age well.  Yes, it is a feature, and not a trivial one.  that’s when ROI comes to play a an important role.
  • Capacity. Minimum 16 Oz. definitely a trivial requirement.  there’s no point to invest in a travel smaller mug; it’s that simple.

While working on this blog, friends shared their experience and observations.  just like in mobile, there is no RIGHT answer but lots to share.  A colleague of mine swears by her LiquidLogic mug.  Unfortunately, it seems to be available only for promotional large


nice design, low performance

number orders, so not a real option.  THIS blog post lists about six mugs, most of made by Thermos and Contigo.  This blog mixes office and travel mugs along with flasks and water bottles that could double as hot drinks containers.  Brands such as Hydracentials seem to have ventured to this niche, yet stepped out quickly, leaving loyal drinkers behind without replacement options.  Strangely enough, their mug, still offered via Amazon, looks very much like one of the Thermos mugs.  OEM?  Probably.  I do have one Thermos mug that was OEMed by the Sharper Image, and with a bad painting job too.

Thermos mugs maintain temperature impressively, but fail on three major features: cap is almost impossible to clean and ages badly.  Worth, it’s hard to tell “open” from “close” so spilling accidents are bound to happen.


Currently, the obvious winners for serious commuters is Contigo.  Are they the best? No.  But they are the beast, a the newly easier to clean designed cap with “auto close,” and promotions everywhere including CostCo  I’m still looking, but at least i got the requirements right.

To our hot, unspilled coffee!



    • i actually have one. once disconnected, the cup cannot maintain the temperature for more than 90 min. top. cannot recommend it.

      Comment by yael [ya-el] wagner — January 5, 2017 @ 01:49 | Reply

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