Can you improve your favorite cup of coffee?You already love what you're drinking. How can…
Sadly, the great things we enjoy in life don’t last forever. Maybe that’s a reason why we work hard at preserving relationships, time and valuables. Well, I don’t want to sound too philosophical or pessimistic. We want it all. Even if we already do.
Some of us are simple and would like to prolong one of our beloved moments: our coffee time.
Let’s see how choosing the best thermos can help us at enjoying our favorite drink everywhere, for longer. Although, not forever.
Before I forget, let me warn you about something. The fact that you can hold coffee in a thermos or vacuum flask for long periods of time, does not mean you should. That said, let’s explore practical ways of using a coffee thermos for coffee lovers.
A thermos is a genericized trademark. What that means is that we associate all similar holding containers with the most popular and first brand item of this class. Just like we use terms like aspirin, Jello-O, Q-Tip, Scotch tape, etc. Thermos, LLC did not invent the “thermos.” Back in 1892, Sir James Dewar invented the vacuum flask. This technology is still in use today. Unfortunately for Sir Dewar, he didn’t patent his invention, but the people behind what became Thermos LLC, did. Sad. The man behind the best thermos idea never recovered the rights to his invention, although he tried.
Maybe you think there’s no reason to complicate things when choosing the best thermos for coffee or hot water. However, it’s very important to know how thermoses work and understand some of the materials used when shopping for one. It could be very confusing when you have 100 to choose from. That’s how many you get if you search on Amazon. Yet, you only need one or two. To make things more confusing, most claim to be the best insulated thermoses in the market.
The thermos is essentially two containers, one inside the other. One container is narrower, creating a void, or space, between them. Ideally that gap should have no air. That’s where the name, “vacuum flask,” comes from. This lack of air, delays conduction and convection or the movements of temperature. Maybe a simplistic definition, but we’re looking for the best coffee thermos, not a degree in thermodynamics. Stainless steel ranks low in the heat transfer scale, when compared to other metals. Therefore, the best material for insulated thermoses.
That wasn’t so bad. Right?
Clearly, your best bet is to choose vacuum sealed stainless steel thermoses. You won’t get better insulation for this application.
True, you could insulate with foam, glass or sand if you want to. Still, the vacuum created between two layers of stainless steel is the best. Just be wary of some products being constructed with an inner stainless steel flask, and the other layer with plastic or the like. For example, the promotional ones given away as promotion. Those come apart while sipping for the first time. The hot or cold liquid, break it apart.
Stainless steel will also have a neutral effect on odors and flavors, and is also resistant to acidic drinks.
You’ll also see many thermoses, advertised as 18/8 stainless steel. Cool… Do you know what that means? It’s simple, once you know. Still, the vendors never explain this in their advertising. 18 stands for chromium and 8 for nickel in percentages. Chromium is a corrosion resistance material. Hence, the best construction for a hot water thermos. No one likes to see brown in clear water.
So if this kind of stainless steel has 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel, what else is in the formula? Stainless steel is an iron-based alloy of carbon, manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, nitrogen and iron. Just remember: the minimum amount of chromium in stainless steel, should be 11% in order for the alloy to resist rust. (Just in case you find a bargain.)
Everyone has a preconceived idea of what great coffee should be. In that, we reflect the diversity that exists in our society.
Holding coffee in a thermos for long periods of times may seem like an abomination to a coffee snob, a purist. On the other hand, it may seem like a viable alternative to a practical person who works long hours or the graveyard shift.
In defence of the purist, let’s clear something out. Coffee will oxidize with time. Holding coffee inside a thermos for 8 hours, for example, will affect its taste. For many of us, fresh coffee is 10 minutes old, tops. All the benefits of the “vacuum-sealed flask,” work against it in this scenario. It’s somehow slow cooking the coffee longer than its optimal life.
Maybe a better idea is to use it as a hot water thermos. You could get a French press for example and make coffee in your office or car. Perhaps you could use an aeropress, or a single cup filter (paper or muslin). The alternatives are there for the purist who wants a perfect cup of coffee every time.
Just for the sake of being thorough, another variation is to use instant coffee. It’s real coffee.
And yet, there’s the crowd that likes to sip their coffee for hours (in the same cup or small thermos). Holding coffee for a long time doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. Coffee is just one more of the other components in their drink.
Others experiment with alternatives. I know a guy who keeps a 32 ounces thermos full of cold brew with ice cubes. The ice cubes don’t seem to melt much after 8 hours. The cold brew keeps POTENT! This would be a great scenario for a large thermos.
One more thing before moving on to the reviews. It’s very important to prime your thermos. This is simple but often skipped because we are always in a rush. All you have to do is fill your thermos with water that matches your drink’s temperature.
Stainless steel is cold. Tempering (conditioning) the bottle prior to filling it with your hot or cold drink, won’t cool or warm your coffee as it’s poured in.
All that said, let’s try to find the best thermos for coffee.
This travel mug does a superb job at keeping liquids hot for 5 hours (7 as per Amazon) and cold for 12. One outstanding feature is the spill-leak-free lid. That really comes in handy as many of us carry part of our lives in a backpack daily. Although they claim the Contigo doesn’t leak, be cautious with this unit or any other that claims the same. Most come with a disclaimer, “not to store valuable electronics near it.”
The Contigo comes in a variety of 20 colors to choose from. The 16 ounce version seems like the most practical and portable. It’s available in 24 and 32 ounces. It’s curvy design makes it very comfortable to hold while walking or riding the bus or train. It’ll fit most car cup-holders.
Rightfully boasting 110 years of experience, Thermos makes a great thermos. This one holds hot liquids for 12 hours. For cold, an impressive 24 hours. I can appreciate this one for my iced coffee. Suppose you forget your thermos, either forgot to take it with you or left it in your car. The product won’t go to total waste.
This vacuum-sealed, all stainless steel construction, coffee thermos, is incomparable. They practically invented the thermos. It was their improvements that were mass produced and made Sir Dewar’s invention, a household item.
One thing you won’t avoid are the dings and dents that will come with time. Keeping it shiny all the time can also be a challenge. Stainless steel hates bleach. Other than that, this could be a significant investment for years to come. The dings and dents just give it character.
You also have several sizes to choose from, but the 16 ounces is pretty much practical for most people. It weighs a little more than a pound.
We didn’t expect Stanley to call their thermos a “thermos,” right? They call it a bottle. The Stanley name is also renowned for making their version of the vacuum flask since 1912.
This large thermos, “bottle,” is meant to last. They even offer a lifetime warranty. Here they offer an insulated thermos and claim it will keep hot or cold for 24 hours. Its rugged design is not the most tantalizing of all our picks. The important thing is that it does what it says. It’s a favorite amongst outdoors and working people. It will also keep ice for 4 hours. That opens up new drinking possibilities. Sure, coffee too.
I’m sure coffee purists would hack this thermos sooner than later. It comes with a removable tea or fruit infuser. Nothing stops you from using it in other ways. You get 8 and 36 hours of hot and cold, respectively.
One feature that really stands out is their spill-free lid design. Most of the one in this review claim to be leak-free. Eco’s design seems convincing.
It feels good also, it’s not too heavy and holds 16 ounces of liquid. You can choose from a variety of colors, but the black one looks gorgeous.
Now this one is different because it is vacuum, triple insulated. That’s why you see it rated for 36 hours at keeping things cold. (Do I have an easy cold brew hack for this one!)
Can Thermos, really, top themselves? This 68 ounce thermos outdoes the rest. That’s more than half a gallon of liquid. Now we are talking serious coffee consumption. Let’s call it the 24/24 because that is exactly how long it holds coffee and cold water.
This model’s been around a while. It uses the same technology as most of their better thermoses.
Now, it weighs two pounds. If you were thinking about taking it on your next outdoor adventure, take turns with your friends or family in your next hike. The twist and pour stopper allows serving without removing it. Therefore, you’ll minimize exposing your precious libation to the elements.
There aren’t too many choices in color to pick from. The silver one is stunning.
A unique design, the Flask Travel keeps your favorite drink in tune with your mood, hot or cold. Maybe the 6 hours it keeps liquid hot doesn’t impress you. Yet, for all practical purposes, that’s good enough.
They’ve manufactured this thermos in very popular drink sizes: 12 oz, 16 oz and 20 oz. Hence, is just a matter of handling it to your favorite barista to fill it with your liquid desire.
The handle design is very practical, although it reminds me of Heidi going up the mountain to meet grandpa.
Also, its wide mouth makes it one of the easiest to clean.
This model looks very good. I’d give it a 10, if it was the beauty pageant of thermoses. Someone might disagree. They give you a 5 year warranty on heat retention. That sounds honest to me. We shouldn’t expect a container to outlive us.
It comes in three sizes and colors. I’m split between red or pink. Both, match my phone. But I already told you Zojirushi was pretty.
When it comes to the lid design, it’s perhaps the best of all these thermoses. It comes apart easily for cleaning. This is important. A lot of thermoses fail in this respect, allowing nasty flavors and odors of past, long forgotten drinks.
Their lid design allows for one handed operation. Some claim that, but this one really does, using a simple but ingenious mechanism that keeps the lid open as you pour. The opposite else is true when closing.
It keeps your drink hot or cold, but it doesn’t claim to do it in any specific amount of time.
The Yeti kind of reminds me of the renowned evasive creature. It looks huge. Very wide on top, narrow towards the end. It’s also a double-insulated bottle, but doesn’t specify how long it’ll keep hot or cold. They sell a 10 oz small thermos, real cute. Two other sizes, 20 oz and a 30 oz are available. Perhaps the best feature with the Yeti is the crystal clear lid. It’s nice to see what you are drinking and when you’re running low.
Let’s not confuse this one with the first one in our review. This Contigo will not leak “if you close the lid.” That’s the truth, I’m not being sarcastic. That’s one of their selling points on their advertizing page. Dah!
Aside from that ironic comment on their part. (Check out the link and you’ll see), it’s a decent affordable alternative. Your drink, either hot or cold, will hold for 7 and 18 hours.
Fits most car holders, and if you lose it, replacing it won’t be so bad at under $11.
Our last one is a Thermos, best suited for travel as advertized. It’s not their most expensive. However, it is practical without spending a lot of money. The lid design reflects this company’s attention to little things. It uses their unique technology and continues to benefit from stainless steel’s insulating properties. Again, if you leave it somewhere during your travels, or lose it during your commute, it’s not too pricey to replace.
I’m not too fond of declaring winners. Sometimes, what’s spectacular for a person may seem ordinary for another. These thermoses are all very good, with pros and cons. It would be up to the individual, as needs and budgets differ. One might not even dream of holding coffee (even worst drinking) for 24 hours. Another person would think it practical during a long night shift, when the caffeine dose is more desirable than its flavor.
Nevertheless, I’ll tell you what’s really a reliable and smart investment, and that’s my intellect speaking. The Thermos vacuum insulated 18/8 compact stainless steel bottle, the first one reviewed, wins. It comes in three sizes, up to 48 ounces. The best bang for your money.
Finally, my heart and senses choose the Zojirushi. Why? Because I’ll have coffee until it cools downs, for an undetermined amount of time. Most likely, my cup won’t be full too long. Coffee tastes better, cup after cup. And I like pink.