I got tired of a cheap plastic travel mug not preventing my coffee from spilling, so I bought three superb travel mugs online.
Two of them are 16 oz Contigo West Loop AUTOSEALs, one of which I gave to my wife, the other to a friend. I tested my wife’s before handing it over. Here’s my review.
A few years ago my wife bought me a cheap plastic travel mug for Christmas. This was before we were married. She didn’t want to spend money on me before she was sure I’d commit.
I enjoyed the gift. I still have it. It says “KEEP CALM AND GROW A MUSTACHE” on the side. When she bought it I was in the process of growing a beard the size of a personal barley meadow, so the inscription made me smile.
But it’s a junk mug.
It doesn’t keep my coffee warm and it’s messy. The lid is recessed. When I drink from the mug, it leaves drops of coffee on the inner rim. I end up sucking on the lid to keep it dry, instead of savoring my coffee.
At a prayer meeting a friend showed us his Contigo travel mug.
I recommend you buy a Contigo West Loop. It’s a fantastic travel mug. Here’s why…
The plastic mug showed a drop in temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five-hour period.
The West Loop showed a drop of 36 degrees Celsius (64.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over five hours.
At the higher temperatures, the drop is more gradual in the West Loop than in the plastic mug.
The AUTOSEAL West Loop’s double wall design is better at retaining heat than the plastic mug.
In some ways a plastic travel mug is tougher than a stainless steel mug like the West Loop. A plastic mug won’t dent or bend if it falls. It won’t chip either, if it’s a good plastic.
But plastic does a poor job of retaining heat.
You need a metal double wall mug to enjoy a warm cup of Joe long after it was poured.
The West Loop is as tough as a metal mug can be. But Don’t drop it. It’ll dent, like any metal mug. The lid might break too.
But it’s tough enough, considering the first-class drinking experience it provides.
Spilling and leaking
The Contigo does not leak at all while it’s shut.
I asked a friend to pass the Contigo to me from a distance of 6.5 feet (two meters). One of my fingers pressed on the AUTOSEAL button as I caught it. This opened the spout and spilled a drop of coffee. But it wasn’t the mug’s fault, and it wasn’t a large amount.
We also flipped the mug a few times. It didn’t leak.
The West Loop does a fine job of keeping content inside.
The lid contains a lock that prevents the release button from working, for peace of mind.
Let’s say you buy a travel mug; a cheap, bottom line mug. You think it a waste of money to buy a better model. Surely the West Loop can’t be much better than a cheap model?
You make yourself a lovely cup of Joe, fill your travel mug and take a sip. It leaks a bit, but for that price you’re not complaining. You’re chuffed with yourself for having saved money.
You plonk down on a couch in your living room and take another sip. The coffee’s delicious. You smile.
Your little one’s toddling around the room, happy to explore.
You’re tired. You place your travel mug on the coffee table, put up your feet, lie back and close your eyes.
Just a few minutes…
A scream slashes through your REM and rips you from the couch.
On the floor next to the coffee table sits your toddler, his face dripping with coffee, the mug rolling around, spilling liquid like a sinking oil tanker.
No parent wants that to happen. That’s why the West Loop’s lockable lid is a splendid feature.
We’re extremely proud to stand behind the design, quality, materials and workmanship that goes into every Contigo® product. We go to great lengths to create the best product that we can and then we back that excellence with the Contigo Limited Lifetime Guarantee.
The Contigo Limited Lifetime Guarantee applies to:
- Material Issues
- Workmanship Issues
- Defective Products
- Mugs, Bottles, Replacement Lids
- Purchased in the US & Canada
- Normal Wear & Tear
- Dents & Scratches
- Fading & Paint Chips
- Accidental Damage (like a dropped product)
- Product Misuse & Improper Care
- Cleaning Related issues
- Accessories (straws and brushes)
If you experience a material or workmanship issue with your Contigo product please fill out the form and we’ll respond to your inquiry within 2-3 weeks. Please note that it may be faster and more convenient to return your Contigo product to the retail store that you purchased from in order to minimize replacement time and avoid return shipping charges.
We do not offer monetary reimbursement nor is the Guarantee transferable. Contigo will repair or replace, at its discretion, any defect in materials or workmanship for the lifetime of the product. We strive to quickly replace defective products with current inventory and sometimes that means a comparable product or color.
The total liability of Contigo for any loss or damage, whether based on contract, warranty, negligence or otherwise, shall not exceed the purchase price of the Contigo product. In no event shall Contigo be liable for consequential, incidental or special damages of any kind. This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state.
In the box
The online store I bought from shipped the two mugs in a box, but Contigo doesn’t package their products in their own boxes. They wrap the bottom half of the mug in a transparent plastic with a wraparound label.
Both mugs had a minor dent each when they arrived.
My wife was miffed about this. She loves the mug, but the fact that there was a dent even before she used it, didn’t sit well with her.
Contigo’s warranty doesn’t cover dents. If you tear off the wrapping from their product and there’s a dent, there’s no way for you to prove that the mug came with a dent. They’re not liable for the damage, in other words.
That’s what it looks like from here.
Perhaps you should video the unboxing and unwrapping of your Contigo product.
Inside the AUTOSEAL West Loop is a pamphlet with usage and cleaning instructions.
Before using it
Do these five things before using your AUTOSEAL West Loop:
- Remove the plastic from the West Loop.
- Unscrew the lid from the tumbler.
- Remove the pamphlet from the tumbler.
- Wash the lid & tumbler.
- See cleaning instructions below.
- Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.
Maximum beverage temperature
Water boils at a 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). The west Loop handles boiling water, although I don’t know who’d want to drink boiling water.
Use the West Loop for coffee, tea or a similar beverage and you won’t have any trouble with it.
Heat retention tests
I ran two tests to compare the West Loop’s heat retention to the plastic mug’s retention.
The West Loop does a far better job than the plastic mug.
For both tests I made coffee in the AeroPress coffee maker. I measured the contents immediately after filling the mugs.
I boiled the water for the coffee to 100 degrees Celsius, but by the time I was done with the AeroPress, the coffee’s temperature had plummeted.
For the first test, I poured coffee with a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit) into the West Loop and the plastic travel mug.
In both cases I measured the coffee’s temperature every half an hour, for five hours.
For me, 66 degrees Celsius is warm enough, but some might find it too cold. I wasn’t concerned with the drinking temperature; I wanted to test the West Loop’s heat retention capability.
The temperature of the coffee in the West Loop dropped 36 degrees Celsius (64.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.
The temperature of the coffee in the plastic travel mug dropped 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.
Here’s a table showing the difference in temperature over a five-hour period, measured every half an hour.
These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the West Loop…
…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug…
For the second test I poured coffee into the West Loop at 07:40 am in the morning. It measured 66 degrees Celsius (150.8 degrees Fahrenheit). I left for work and measured it again at 14:06 pm. That’s six hours and 26 minutes later. It measured 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
That’s a drop of 36 degrees Celsius (64.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The second test showed the same result as the first.
Note: These tests were done in a normal home in a normal suburb of a normal little town on a spectacular coast.
Ideal coffee temperature
The ideal temperature for coffee ranges from between 155ºF to 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC). That’s according to Coffee Detective.
Scott at Driftaway Coffee prefers his coffee between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).
It comes down to personal preference.
How to use it
Unscrew the lid from the tumbler (if it’s attached), pour your drink into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.
Contigo recommends leaving the lid off for three minutes after filling it, to ensure that the content cools down.
How to drink from it
To drink from the West Loop:
- Press the AUTOSEAL button at the back of the mug.
- This releases the silicon spout.
- Don’t do this close to your face. The mug can build up pressure when sealed.
- Put your lips to the West Loop’s spout.
- Tilt back your head and sip.
Can you use it for soup?
But can you use it for drinking soup?
I bought a packet of creamy tomato soup, prepared it according to packet instructions and poured it into the West Loop.
Before pouring it into the West Loop, I strained the soup into a jug. This removed large lumps that might clog the mug.
The soup came pouring out of the West Loop like water through a hole in a dam wall.
Use your West Loop for soup, provided it’s a runny, non-chunky kind.
How to clean it
Follow these steps to clean the AUTOSEAL West Loop:
- Remove the lid from the tumbler.
- Clean the lid.
- By hand:
- Flip open the PUSH TO CLEAN button.
- The Easy-Clean lid makes it easy to clean.
- Rinse the lid under warm running water.
- Make sure you cover every nook and cranny by using a mini dish scrub brush.
- Flip open the PUSH TO CLEAN button.
- In the dishwasher:
- Place the lid on the dishwasher’s top rack.
- Switch on the dishwasher and allow it to complete a cycle.
- Remove the lid.
- By hand:
- Clean the tumbler.
- Fill the kitchen sink with warm water.
- Add a mild detergent.
- Immerse the tumbler in the water and wash with a dish scrub brush.
- Rinse with clean water.
- Leave parts to dry on rack, or dry off with a cloth.
The lid is top rack dishwasher safe. The tumbler is not. Wash the tumbler by hand, not in a dishwasher.
They make the West Loop’s lid from an FDA approved Eastman Tritan BPA-free plastic. It contains small metal parts too, but the bulk of the lid is plastic.
They make the tumbler from food-grade stainless steel.
The Contigo West Loop comes in three sizes:
- 16 oz
- 20 oz
- 24 oz
Not all colors are available in all sizes. Check the price table below to see available colors, sizes and prices.
Does it fit inside a cup holder?
It depends on the cup holder.
The 16 oz West Loop measures 3.015in (76.6mm) at its widest diameter. It tapers up from ~2.91in (~74mm).
Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of 2.99in (~76mm). The West Loop fits.
My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9. The West Loop fits the Evo’s cup holders.
Does the AeroPress fit?
The Contigo West Loop comes in 12 colors:
- Biscay Bay
- Bright Lavender
- Deep Blue
- Grayed Jade
- Polar White
- Radiant Orchid
- Stainless Steel
- Stormy Weather
Some colors are more expensive than others. Check the price table to see the cost for each color and size option.
Size and color play important roles in Contigo’s pricing structure.
Not all colors are available in all sizes. Some mugs weren’t available at all, at the time of writing.
Some larger mugs are priced lower than their small counterparts. For instance, the 20 oz Latte colored mug is cheaper than the Latte 16 oz mug.
Here’s a sortable table with sizes, colors and prices, excluding shipping and transport costs.
The AUTOSEAL system ensures that the West Loop is leak and spill proof. Flip the West Loop on its head, it won’t leak.
The AUTOSEAL button lock makes the West Loop tamper proof. Leave your drink standing on the coffee table. Your small child is safe from getting burnt.
The Contigo Thermalock system ensures that your drink stays hot for hours.