5 Images

Insulated travel mugs

Reviews by Susan Spano,
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

First look: If you’re looking for the Lexus SC-430 convertible of insulated travel mugs, try the Nissan Ultimate 14-Ounce Stainless Steel Vacuum Travel Tumbler. It has a willowy Nicole Kidman shape, tapering from the plastic lid to the rubber-grounded bottom.

Likes and yikes: The mug has an easy-to-hold band of rubber around its middle and fits into almost any vehicle’s beverage holder. It keeps beverages hot for about two hours. But its real breakthrough is the handle, which was engineered to release a drinking spout on the lid, dramatically minimizing the possibility for spills.

The 411: $27.95, Sur la Table Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St.; (323) 954-9190. (Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times)
First look: Maybe you’ve seen Starbucks Stainless Steel Travel Tumbler while waiting for your pumpkin spice latte. It holds 16 ounces, keeps liquids hot for about as long as the Nissan and has a snap-open cover that seals the mouth aperture on the lid.

Likes and yikes: The Starbucks model didn’t fit easily into my car’s beverage holder. I had to take both hands off the wheel to snap open the lid and got some coffee splashes once I did.

The 411: $24.95; Derk / Los Angeles Times)
First look: A friend of mine hates to drink from travel mugs because he thinks they make the coffee taste of plastic. This ceramic coffee mug would please him. It has the fulsome heft of a Matisse nude and comes in a range of colors -- black, cobalt blue, hunter green.

Likes and yikes: Unlike the stainless steel mugs I tried, this one can go in the microwave because it’s ceramic. But the plastic lid is cheesy and my mug cracked from stem to stern when it fell out of the car right after I got it.

The 411: $19.95; (800) 830-2696, Derk / Los Angeles Times)
First look: This one’s from Bodum, the java-wise European company that produces French press coffee makers. It has instructions in nine languages, a snap-open mouthpiece, clear plastic body and finely engineered coffee-pressing mechanism in the lid.

Likes and yikes: Pretty cool. Still, you’re left with a mess of grounds at the bottom, waiting to be cleaned up after you get home.

The 411: $14.95, Sur la Table Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St.; (323) 950-9190, Derk / Los Angeles Times)
First look: The Aladdin Stainless Steel Travel Mug, made of plastic and stainless steel, has a tapering body that fits most vehicles’ beverage holders and has an easy-to-clutch handle.

Likes and yikes: Like a trustworthy Toyota Corolla, this travel mug works, and it holds a whopping 16 ounces. But the big downside is its uncovered mouthpiece, which allows the contents to cool quickly and splash about the face.

The 411: $8.95; Rite-Aid. (Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times)