Test Drive—The Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler

In the search for the perfect travel mug, Klean Kanteen does a pretty good job.


To be honest, I generally don’t like reusable travel mugs. I love the idea of travel mugs, how they reduce waste, the well-worn patina of a loved mug, and the uniqueness of each individual design. However, when it comes down to brass tacks, I feel they cause a lot of issues as well.

From the perspective of someone working in a café, travel mugs can be a real pain. Most customers don’t actually know the volume of their mug, and those that think they do are probably wrong 50 percent of the time. On top of that, many specialty coffee shops no longer sell beverages in the popular travel mug sizes of 16-ounce, 24-ounce, or even larger, which creates a problem for pricing. What do you charge someone for a drink that is maybe double the size of your normal menu item?

Reusable cups can cause some problems—until you find the right one. Meet the Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler: the perfect-sized reusable cup.

Further still is the issue that really well-constructed travel mugs can retain heat for way too long, which makes your coffee hard to drink. My commute is only 15 minutes and with the wrong mug I’ll still be burning my tongue long after I arrive at work, which is a real bummer when all I want is a hot beverage to warm me up on a cold winter morning. But anyway, I digress. (Did I just ramble about hating travel mugs for three paragraphs?!)

You’ve guessed where I’m going with this, right? I found a mug that I like. It’s not a perfect mug, but darn if it doesn’t fill a lot of the wants left by typical travel mugs. It’s simply called the “Insulated Tumbler” from Klean Kanteen, and I’ve grown to like it enough that it actually lives in my car full-time now.

First of all, it is the perfect size at 8 ounces. Now, I know what you’re thinking: I just complained about travel mug sizes not meeting menu sizes and a lot of cafés don’t sell 8-ounce drinks, which is true, and admittedly this is the Achilles’ heel with the Insulated Tumbler. I typically end up paying for a 12-ounce drink to go in my 8-ounce cup—that’s the the price of using a mug that I like. For me, however, 8 ounces is the perfect-sized drink.

The Insulated Tumbler in its permanent place of residence.

Secondly, the Insulated Tumbler isn’t too insulated. The mouth of the cup is wide and the lid is thin plastic, which means heat can escape to some degree, rendering my coffee a drinkable temperature in a reasonable amount of time. This mug will still keep your coffee hot much longer than a paper cup; however, I end up burning myself much less frequently with the Insulated Tumbler than with other stainless-steel, vacuum-insulated cups.

The third thing I like about the Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler is its durability. The cup itself is constructed of vacuum-insulated 18/8 stainless steel, and the lid is durable plastic with no moving parts. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I generally don’t exude a lot of finesse and am more of a “just get it done” kind of person, which translates to the mug getting thrown around a lot. Between the backseat and bed of my truck, camp kitchen, and backpack, this tumbler gets tossed all over the place. And you know what? It still works great, and after two years I haven’t lost the lid or significantly damaged the tumbler in any way.

You can use the Insulated Tumbler not just for coffee, but for other drinks—it’s a great vessel for an outdoor cocktail.

Bonus points go to this tumbler for being the perfect mug for outdoor cocktails. There is even a picture of folks using them for margaritas on Klean Kanteen’s website! That’s my kind of coffee cup.

So if you find yourself looking for the perfect reusable travel mug and are way too picky about it like me, get yourself a Klean Kanteen Insulated Tumbler. It’s not a silver bullet, but hey, it’s a great-sized travel mug that gets the job done whenever and wherever you need it. That’s pretty great in my book.

Josh Taves
is the director of quality control and business development for Novo Coffee in Denver. He’s been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and enjoys taking advantage of all the great adventures Colorado has to offer. He is also the inventor of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer and a 2017 USBC Finalist, so he knows his way around lots of different coffee gadgets.

About baristamagazine 2118 Articles
Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.