CamelBak Forge 16oz Travel Mug

I bought a 16 oz CamelBak Forge to see if it could beat two other travel mugs I’ve tested before (Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop and Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA).

Out of the CamelBak’s competition, the Zojirushi holds heat the best, but the Contigo is easier to use and clean.

The CamelBak is at least as good as the Zojirushi at retaining heat. I consider the CamelBak superior to both the Zojirushi and Contigo.


The competition for this mug is stiff. The Zojirushi is a competent heat retainer while the Contigo is easy to use and clean.

The initial base for all of these tests is a cheap plastic travel mug my wife bought me some years back, against which I tested the Zojirushi and Contigo.

So it’s only fair to use the plastic mug as a base for testing the CamelBak against.

In the end, the CamelBak Forge doesn’t just beat the plastic mug, which is to be expected, but also the Zojirushi and the Contigo.

Read on to see why.

The cheap plastic travel mug, a gift from my wife a few years back. This formed the basis for my travel mug tests
The cheap plastic travel mug, a gift from my wife a few years back. This formed the basis for my travel mug tests.
The three mugs I put through their paces. From left to right, Zojirushi, Contigo, CamelBak
The three mugs I put through their paces. From left to right, Zojirushi, Contigo, CamelBak.

TL;DR

For those who don’t want to read the whole post, here are my findings, abbreviated.

Heat retention

I ran two heat retention tests for each mug (the cheap plastic mug, the Zojirushi, the Contigo and the CamelBak).

In the first test I poured coffee into each mug, took the temperature, closed the mug for 6 hours and 26 minutes, opened the mug and took the temperature.

In the second test I poured coffee into the mug, took the temperature, closed the mug and opened it every half an hour to take the temperature.

The CamelBak beat the Contigo easily and drew with the Zojirushi in this department.

Toughness

The CamelBak’s as tough as a metal mug will be.

Its body will bend under strain or dent when knocked and the lid won’t bear a beating either, so handle it with care.

This is not unique to the CamelBak though. They design travel mugs to hit the sweet spot in a number of areas; it’s impossible to create a product that’s indestructible, retains heat well, is easy to clean and use AND doesn’t weigh a ton.

Spilling and leaking

The CamelBak is leakproof.

I filled it with coffee, turned it upside down and shook it. Nothing spilled.

So I turned it right side up and opened it. It released some air and splattered a few drops of coffee.

Then I turned it upside down again and nothing leaked from it.

The splattering of coffee got me curious.

Would this mug splatter drops of coffee every time I pressed the button to open the lid for a sip?

So I went through the motions of drinking from it, paying attention to what happens whenever I open it.

It did NOT sputter coffee when I opened it.

The only reason it did so when I tested it for leakage, was because I shook it while holding it upside down, which caused pressure buildup in the mug.

But it won’t leak. So don’t worry about coffee seeping out of it if ever the CamelBak finds itself on its side in your car.

The CamelBak Forge is leak proof, as this picture of it dangling upside down from my hand shows
The CamelBak Forge is leak proof, as this picture of it dangling upside down shows.

Lockable

This is one area where the CamelBak loses to the competition.

It does not come with a lid lock, which means inquisitive young hands might pick up the mug, press the wrong button and spill something.

However, the button you press to open the drinking spout is solid. A baby won’t be able to open it easily.

Besides, with enough fiddling, even a mug with a lock could end up being opened.

Warranty

CamelBak’s warranty is far too involved to post here.

They offer what they call the Got Your Bak lifetime guarantee.

You can read more about it at camelbak.com/en/customer-service/warranty.

It’s probably the most comprehensive warranty I’ve ever come across.

In the box

The CamelBak didn’t come in fancy packaging. It arrived with tags attached to it, in a box, but it wasn’t wrapped.

No dents, unlike the Contigo

when I tested the Contigo, one thing that miffed me was that both the Contigos (I bought two) came with dents.

They weren’t big dents, and it’s not a big deal, but my money had no dents. One expects a new product you pay for to not have even the slightest defect.

The CamelBak Forge came nickfree, despite the lack of fancy packaging.

Before using it

Take these steps before using the CamelBak Forge:

  1. Unscrew the lid from the body.
  2. Remove papers from the mug (if there are any).
  3. Wash the lid & tumbler.
    1. See cleaning instructions below.
  4. Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.

Maximum beverage temperature

You don’t want to use your travel mug to melt gold in; you want to drink coffee or tea from it.

Provided you use it with common sense, you should be able to fill the CamelBak Forge with a piping hot beverage often and not damage it.

Heat retention tests

I ran two heat retention tests with the CamelBak.

For both tests I made coffee in the AeroPress coffee maker, poured the coffee into a metal jug and transferred it to the CamelBak.

For both tests the starting temperature was 66 degrees Celsius.

I made a cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the CamelBak Forge
I made a cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the CamelBak Forge.

First test

In the first heat retention test I poured coffee into the CamelBak and measured the temperature at 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Then, for the next five hours, I opened the CamelBak every half an hour to measure the temperature.

The coffee’s temperature dropped a total of 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over a period of five hours.

Below is a table showing the difference in temperature over a five hour period.

This table shows the drop in temperature of coffee in a CamelBak Forge and a cheap plastic travel mug, measured every half an hour, for five hours.
TimeframeCamelBak Forge (Celsius)Cheap plastic travel mug (Celsius)CamelBak Forge (Fahrenheit)Cheap plastic travel mug (Fahrenheit)
Initial temperature6666150.8150.8
30 minutes later5451129,2123.8
60 minutes later5240125.6104
90 minutes later4931120.287.8
120 minutes later453011386
150 minutes later4329109.484.2
180 minutes later402510477
210 minutes later3923102.273.4
240 minutes later372398.673.4
270 minutes later342193.269.8
300 minutes later342193.269.8

These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the CamelBak Forge…

…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug I tested the CamelBak Forge against…

Second test

In the second heat retention test I poured coffee into the CamelBak and measured the temperature at 66 degrees Celsius.

After 6 hours and 26 minutes, I unscrewed the CamelBak’s lid and measured the temperature again. It measured 33 degrees Celsius.

That’s a drop of 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit), which turns out to be similar to the first heat retention test.

Note: These tests weren’t done in a lab, but in a room in a normal home.

Ideal coffee temperature

The Coffee Detective says that the ideal temperature range for coffee is between 155°F to 175°F (70°C to 80°C).

Driftaway Coffee‘s Scott says coffee should be between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).

It’s down to personal preference.

And then there’s the growing interest in cold brew coffee, which is a different, and dare I say, superior beast, to traditional coffee.

How to use it

Unscrew the CamelBak’s lid, pour your beverage of choice into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.

You could screw the lid back on immediately, especially if you want to keep your beverage scorching for a long time.

But if you’re like me, who uses a travel mug more for the convenience of having coffee securely on the go, rather than for having it as hot as possible for as long as possible, you might want to allow the contents in the tumbler to cool down before you screw on the lid.

Before you screw the lid on

When you wash your CamelBak, you remove the lid set from the tumbler, flip open what CamelBak calls the arms of the lid set and clean it, either with a brush or in a dishwasher.

But before you screw the lid back onto the tumbler after you’ve washed it and want to use it again, make sure the arms are in the correct position. If they’re in the wrong position and you try to put them in place after you’re screwed the lid on, you won’t be able to do so.

How to drink from it

Drinking from the CamelBak is similar to drinking from the Contigo.

To drink from the CamelBak:

  1. Press the button at the back of the lid.
    1. This releases the spout lock (which extends from what CamelBak calls the arms of the lid).
    2. Make sure you hold the mug away from your face when you press the button, because it can build up pressure while standing.
  2. Put your lips to the Forge’s spout.
  3. Tilt back your head and sip.

Lock it in the open position

If you want to keep your CamelBak’s spout open permanently, simply press the button to open the spout, as you would when you take a sip, then press the little button on top of the arms down to lock the arms in place, thereby leaving the spout unblocked.

How not to use it

Although the CamelBak doesn’t come with a manual, you should use it with care.

Do that by following these guidelines:

  1. Don’t let babies or kids use it.
  2. Ensure that no parts (like the rubber seal) are missing before using it.
  3. Make sure the lid’s arms close after you’ve taken a sip.
  4. If it stops retaining heat, stop using the CamelBak.
  5. Hold the mug away from your face when you press the button to take a sip.
  6. Don’t put your CamelBak in a microwave oven.
  7. Don’t drink and drive.
  8. Don’t drink from it too quickly. Take it easy.
  9. Don’t shake the mug while it’s filled with something.
  10. Don’t fill it with dry ice.

Can you use it for soup?

I don’t know if the CamelBak Forge is supposed to be used for drinking soup from, but I was going to find out in any case, since I tested the Zojirushi and Contigo in a similar fashion.

I used a creamy tomato soup, the same one I used for testing the other mugs.

I prepared the soup according to instructions, then strained it into a jug to remove lumps.

From the jug I poured the soup into the CamelBak.

It worked.

I could drink soup from the CamelBak easily.

But you use it for this kind of thing at your own risk. I suspect they make the CamelBak for use with coffee and tea, not soup.

How to clean it

Follow these steps to clean your CamelBak Forge:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add detergent.
  2. Place the CamelBak in the water.
  3. Remove the lid set from the tumbler.
  4. Clean the lid set.
    1. Open the arms by pressing the open button.
      1. This flips open the arms and keeps them open, since the lid set is not connected to the tumbler.
    2. Soak in warm water.
    3. Use a small, soft brush to get to hard-to-reach places.
  5. Remove the lid set from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  6. Wash the tumbler.
    1. Use a soft sponge.
  7. Remove the tumbler from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  8. Place the lid set and the tumbler on a drying rack and leave to dry.

The CamelBak is easier to clean than both the Zojirushi and the Contigo.

It’s not hard to beat the Zojirushi in this department, since the Zojirushi requires you to remove parts from it when you clean it.

The Contigo, however, is easy to clean.

So the fact that the CamelBak is even easier to clean than the Contigo is a big deal.

Dishwasher safe?

The CamelBak Forge’s lid SHOULD be dishwasher safe, but don’t quote me on that. It’s hard to find info on this mug, and since I promised to gift mine to a friend after the test, I didn’t want to sacrifice it for the sake of a test.

The tumbler is NOT dishwasher safe.

Technical details

Tech specs for the CamelBak Forge. Metric and Imperial.
 MetricImperial
Body materialFood-grade stainless steel
Lid materialPolypropylene
Height (assembled)219mm8.62 inches
Height (lid set)61mm2.4 inches
Height (main body / tumbler)183mm7.2 inches
Maximum width (lid)106.5mm4.19 inches
Maximum diameter (main body / tumbler)72.5mm2.85 inches
Weight (assembled, dry)330g11,64 oz
Weight (assembled, filled with water)750g26.45 oz
Weight (lid)84g2.96 oz
Weight (main body / tumbler)246g8.67 oz

Construction

The CamelBak Forge is made from a variety of materials, including BPA-free polypropylene (the lid) and stainless steel (the tumbler).

Sizes

The CamelBak Forge comes in two sizes:

  • 12 oz
  • 16 oz

I only bought the 16 oz for this test. I can’t see how anybody would be happy with only 12 ounces of coffee. It just does not compute.

Does it fit inside a cup holder?

This obviously depends on the diameter of your automobile’s cup holder.

The CamelBak Forge tapers up from ~70mm.

Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of ~76mm, which means the CamelBak Forge fits fine.

My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9, the cup holder of which the CamelBak fits into.

Does the AeroPress fit?

Like with the Contigo, the AeroPress does NOT fit into the CamelBak, which means the Zojirushi wins this round, since the AeroPress fits snugly into it.

If you make AeroPress coffee for the CamelBak you’ll have to make it in another container, like a stainless steel jug, and pour it into the CamelBak.

Tip: when you press AeroPress into a metal container, preheat the container so it doesn’t cause the coffee to lose too much heat.

The AeroPress does NOT fit into the CamelBak
The AeroPress does NOT fit into the CamelBak.

Colors

The Zojirushi comes in ten colors:

  • Aubergine
  • Black Smoke
  • Blaze
  • Blue Street
  • Bronze
  • Deep Sea
  • Ghost
  • Ghost Berry
  • Olive Sky
  • Slate

Price

I bought the CamelBak Forge for under $30.

However, you’ll need to check the current price on Amazon. I think it’s gone up.

The CamelBak Forge’s price is also affected by size and color.

Final thoughts

The CamelBak is a great travel mug, the best out of the three stainless steel travel mugs I’ve tested.

It’s leak- and spill proof. Although it doesn’t come with the locking system you’ll find on the Zojirushi and Contigo, the CamelBak won’t spill liquid easily.

It keeps your drink hot. The CamelBak keeps up with the Zojirushi and beats the Contigo in heat retention tests.

It’s easy to clean and use. The CamelBak is as easy to use and clean as the Contigo, which is much easier to clean and use than than the Zojirushi.

The Contigo AUTOSEAL is a GREAT mug, but if you want a travel mug that’s as easy to use, easier to clean, won’t spill and keeps your drink hotter, the CamelBak Forge is for you.

The Dash Cold Brew System Makes Cold Brew Coffee In Five Minutes

UPDATE: The Dash joins my Red List, due to the negative feedback on their Indiegogo campaign page. Stick to the traditional way of making cold brew. The Dash cold brew system doesn’t seem to work as advertised.

The folks at Dash claim they’ve created a system that cuts a cold brew coffee brewing session from 12 hours to five minutes.


I love my AeroPress. It’s one of the finest products I’ve ever bought.

But it can’t make cold brew coffee. Neither can the Staresso (which I bought along with the AeroPress) despite it advertised as capable of doing so.

I have a friend who makes cold brew and I love it. It’s a far smoother drink than hot brewed coffee.

He wanted to gift me a cold brew contraption, but I don’t have patience for this sort of thing. I can’t wait 12 hours for coffee. I want it now. The AeroPress’ coffee is delicious enough to go without cold brew.

But now there’s a company that claims they’ve invented a cold brew machine that cuts down brewing from 12 hours to five minutes.

It’s called the Dash Rapid Cold Brew System.

They’re crowdfunding their product on Indiegogo.

If this thing works, count me in. I don’t mind hurting my AeroPress’ feelings.

It’ll take a drink fit for kings and turn it into a peasant’s pleasure.

Let’s take a closer look…

What is cold brew coffee?

Let’s learn about cold brew coffee from Wikipedia.

Cold brew coffee also goes by the name of cold press coffee or cold water extract coffee.

To make cold brew coffee, you steep coarse ground coffee in room temperature water (some people prefer chilled water) for no less than 12 hours.

Coffee grounds must not come into direct contact with the water. They must be contained in a filter.

You can also make cold brew by dripping cold water through coffee grounds over half a day or more.

Cold brew coffee has a different chemical profile than standard brewed coffee. It contains less acid and less caffeine.

It’s healthier

Cold brew contains less acid than a hot brewed coffee.

This is not an empty marketing claim. It’s a stance supported by many, if not most, coffee connoisseurs.

My wife is sensitive to strong coffee. She prefers a cold brew because it’s easier on the stomach.

It’s smoother

As stated above, a cold brew is smoother than a normal coffee.

Even though I love my AeroPress, I’d lie if I said it makes a coffee that’s better than cold brewed coffee.

It doesn’t.

It makes the best hot brew I’ve ever tasted, but the best hot coffee is not as smooth as a cold brew.

Cold brew gives you all the kick, without the bite.

What is the Dash?

The Dash is a rapid cold brew system.

Where a traditional cold brew system takes at least 12 hours to make your cold press coffee, the Dash does it in five minutes.

This device, if it works as advertised, will turn the coffee making world on its head.

Fast

Using its patent pending ColdBoil™ technology, the Dash is able to deliver your cuppa cold in five minutes.

You don’t need to set a reminder for tonight if you want cold brew tomorrow morning. It’s as quick as a standard coffee machine, and quicker than some.

Easy to use

Some cold brew systems look like something out of Frankenstein’s laboratory, and require rocket scientificatilation to use.

The Dash comes with two containers. One is for coffee grounds, the other for water.

It’s four baby steps to a lovely cold brew:

  1. Fill the coffee container with coffee grounds.
  2. Fill the carafe with cold water.
  3. Turn the dial.
    • While you wait, make some toast.
  4. Pour your cold brew coffee.
    • Share with a friend or six. There’s enough to go round.

Enough to share

Cold brew brings out the worst in me. Because it’s a delicate beverage that takes hours to make, it’s not something I want to share.

When I’m gifted a container of cold brew, I treat it like a rare wine.

But the Dash turns the once scarce purple fabric that cold brew used to be, into a common colour.

The Dash makes up to 1.5 litres (50.72 fl oz, or 304326.09 US teaspoons) of cold brew coffee. That’s enough caffeine to invigorate the weakest of friendships.

Made to last

The Dash’s plastic parts are constructed of BPA-free Tritan copolymer.

The carafe is made from glass. They claim that it’s durable, and that it won’t stain or react with coffee.

Price & availability

The Dash ships to Canada and the US only. 🙁

Crowdfunding prices for the Dash cold brew system.
PackagePriceDescription
Super early backer special$491 x Dash Rapid Cold Brew System at 62% off retail. Limited quantity for the earliest of backers.
Early backer special$791 x Dash Rapid Cold Brew System at 38% off retail.
Snooze button backer$991 x Dash Rapid Cold Brew System at 23% off retail.

Final thoughts

This looks like an amazing invention.

It’s quick. Where standard cold brew methods force you to wait 12 hours, the Dash has you infused with cold brew in five minutes.

It’s easy to use. Some cold brew systems require the help of a physicist to use. The Dash gives you amazing coffee in four easy steps.

It makes enough. With the traditional cold brew method, you do everything in your power to protect your cold brew from long fingers. The Dash conjures up to 1.5 litres of coffee. There’s enough cold brew for everyone. You can share with a smile.

Give the Dash a look. It seems like a great product.

Rumble – Travel Mugs – Zojirushi SM-YAE48 VS Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop

I reviewed the Zojirushi SM-YAE48 and Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop travel mugs. Read on to see which one is the best.

NB. You might want to read my CamelBak Forge travel mug review. It beats both the Contigo and the Zojirushi.


I bought two Contigo West Loops and a Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. My wife annexed one of the Contigos and a friend got the other. This left me with the Zojirushi.

Which one is best?

Let’s take a look…

Looks

Both the Zojirushi and the Contigo are gorgeous. There’s no way I can call the one a babe and the other a dog.

The two contestants share the crown in this category.

Usage

To drink from the Zojirushi, you press a button on the side of the lid set. This flips open the lid, giving you access to a large spout.

To drink from the Contigo, you press a button at the back of the mug. This opens the drinking valve from which you sip.

Although the Zojirushi’s spout is large, it’s more difficult to drink from than the Contigo.

If you don’t flip the lid back all the way when you open the Zojirushi, the lid cover gasket touches your forehead when you take a sip.

The Contigo’s lack of a lid is another bonus, since it’s one less part that can break off.

The Contigo West Loop takes the usage round.

Cleaning

Before you clean the Zojirushi, you have to remove the lid cover gasket and the stopper gasket from the lid set, both of which are made from silicon.

Removing the gaskets while your fingers are wet is a difficult task. I gave up trying after a while.

Before you clean the Contigo, you remove the lid from the main body, press the ‘PUSH TO CLEAN’ button and clean it.

Both mugs require the use of a small brush.

The main bodies of both mugs clean in the same way.

The Contigo West Loop takes the cleaning round.

Heat retention

I made AeroPress coffee to test in both mugs.

Both times, the coffee had a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius (150.8 degrees Fahrenheit) when I poured it into the mugs.

The coffee in the Zojirushi dropped to a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit) after five hours.

The coffee in the Contigo West Loop dropped to a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) after five hours.

The Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA takes the heat retention round.

The difference in heat retention between the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA and Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop over a five hour period.
TimeframeZojirushi (Celsius)AUTOSEAL West Loop (Celsius)Zojirushi (Fahrenheit)AUTOSEAL West Loop (Fahrenheit)
Initial temperature6666150.8150.8
30 minutes later5856136.4132.8
60 minutes later5351127.4123.8
90 minutes later4944120.2111.2
120 minutes later4640114.8104
150 minutes later4436111.296.8
180 minutes later4134105.893.2
210 minutes later403310491.4
240 minutes later373298.689.6
270 minutes later35319587.8
300 minutes later343093.286

Final thoughts

Although the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA edges past the Contigo with heat retention, the Contigo West Loop takes all the other categories.

The West Loop is easier to clean. You don’t have to remove parts from the West Loop to clean it. The Zojirushi’s lid set contains two silicon parts you need to remove every time you clean it.

The West Loop is easier to use. You push a button, put your lips to the lid and drink. With the Zojirushi, you push a button which flips open a lid.

It was a tough call. Both mugs are top quality.

But there is a winner.

The Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop takes the crown.

Thanks for joining us, folks. And remember to sign up for the free newsletter for more in-depth product reviews.

Zojirushi SM-YAE48 Travel Mug

I bought three mugs online to test and use. Two of those were Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loops, and one was a Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. I gifted the two Contigos and kept the Zojirushi. Here’s my review of the Zojirushi.

(Want to know which of the two is best? Read my Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA VS Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop article.)


When you hit the road, you want a comfortable mug of warm coffee perched on your lap or sitting in the cup holder.

What better way to spend a long drive than with a good companion (my wife), Morrissey’s ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ oozing from the CD player and a warm mug of caffeine to snuggle up to?

In this review I pit the Zojirushi against a cheap plastic mug my wife bought me some years ago. I followed the same route with the Contigo West Loop mug (read my Contigo review). In another post I compare the Zojirushi to the Contigo. Better sign up to receive more of this sort of thing.

Here’s why you’ll want to buy the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA travel mug.

Heat retention

The plastic mug showed a drop in temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five-hour period.

The Zojirushi showed a drop of 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over five hours.

The Zojirushi—because of its double wall stainless steel construction—does a far better job of retaining heat than a plastic mug.

Toughness

Plastic is a great option for container products. It makes a tough travel mug too.

The problem is, plastic doesn’t retain heat as well as metal.

So you can have your tougher plastic mug, but if you want warm coffee, you need double wall stainless steel insulation.

The Zojirushi gives you double wall insulation.

So it’s as tough as a metal mug can be.

If you drop it, it will dent or bend. The lid won’t last either.

So, even though it’s tough, you need to handle the Zojirushi with care.

Spilling and leaking

The Zojirushi’s lid clips into place when you close it. It also features a lid cover gasket, made from silicon, that seals into the sip area when you clip the lid cover into place.

The lid set screws onto the main body with a stopper gasket—also made from silicon—that keeps your Zojirushi’s contents inside.

The Zojirushi doesn’t leak even a little bit.

The Zojirushi is leak proof. Here I'm helping it do a handstand with a belly full of coffee, cos it can't stand on its head by itself. No leaking.
The Zojirushi is leak proof. Here I’m helping it do a handstand with a belly full of coffee, cos it can’t stand on its head by itself. No leaking.

Lockable

The Zojirushi’s lid set contains a safety lock. This is next to the lid set’s button.

Why is this important?

Let’s say you decide to buy a travel mug; a cheap one, cos buying a Zojirushi is a waste of money.

You make coffee and fill your cheap new travel mug. You’re proud of having saved money by not buying the Zojirushi. The coffee tastes the same in the cheap mug, after all.

Your cheap mug doesn’t lock, but that doesn’t bother you. You told yourself to be more careful when you use it; you won’t allow your little one near it.

You grab your mug of delicious coffee and head for the porch, where you ease into a hammock chair. You place the mug next to you on the tiled floor.

Your little one’s waddling around in the lounge. She’s in a good mood, but driving you nuts with her incessant humming and singing.

You lay back your head and close your eyes. You could do with a quick snooze.

Something’s up. Your little one’s gone quiet.

You hear a muted plonk, followed by a, “Whoopsy!” next to you.

You turn to see your new mug lying on its side, bleeding coffee, your little one squatting next to the accident, covering her mouth in mock shock.

You’ll have to make another cup and you can’t set it on the floor, but you’re thankful, because it could have been worse.

What if she’d tried drinking the hot coffee? You don’t want to think about the consequences.

The Zojirushi’s lock adds another layer of security to your travel mug. A little one will have a difficult time opening it.

Warranty

I found the following on a Zojirushi product page…

5 year warranty on heat retention

That doesn’t say much, so I emailed Zojirushi USA for more info.

Jacqueline kindly replied with the following email:

Thank you for contacting Zojirushi America.

The vacuum mugs are non-Electrical products that come with a 5 year heat retention warranty.

Parts however, such as the lid, are not covered under this 5 year warranty.

You have up to five years to exchange the main body, but not the lid set, if I understand their warranty.

In the box

The Zojirushi came in a neat box, along with usage pamphlets in various languages.

No dents, unlike the Contigo

The Zojirushi had no dents when it arrived. That’s because Zojirushi ships their product in a box. It handles a journey better.

Both the Contigos I ordered came with minor dents, because Contigo doesn’t package their products in a box.

Before using it

Take these steps before using the Zojirushi:

  1. Unscrew the lid from the body.
  2. Remove the pamphlet from the tumbler.
  3. Wash the lid & tumbler.
    1. See cleaning instructions below.
  4. Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.

Maximum beverage temperature

Unless you drink molten lead, metal, lava or something similar, the Zojirushi will handle what you fill it with.

Use it for coffee, tea or a similar beverage and it won’t give you trouble.

Heat retention tests

I ran two tests to compare the Zojirushi’s heat retention to the plastic mug’s. (The plastic travel mug can’t compare to the Zojirushi.)

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.

I made a delicious cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the Zojirushi
I made a delicious cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the Zojirushi.

First test

For testing the Zojirushi, I compared data collected from testing the Zojirushi, to data collected from testing the plastic travel mug for the Contigo article. There’s no need to duplicate the plastic travel mug test.

For the first test, I poured coffee with a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit) into the Zojirushi 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 Zojirushi’s heat retention capability.

The temperature of the coffee in the Zojirushi dropped 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 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.

This table shows the drop in temperature of coffee in a Zojirushi and a cheap plastic travel mug, measured every half an hour, for five hours.
TimeframeZojirushi (Celsius)Cheap plastic travel mug (Celsius)Zojirushi (Fahrenheit)Cheap plastic travel mug (Fahrenheit)
Initial temperature6666150.8150.8
30 minutes later5851136.4123.8
60 minutes later5340127.4104
90 minutes later4931120.287.8
120 minutes later4630114.886
150 minutes later4429111.284.2
180 minutes later4125105.877
210 minutes later402310473.4
240 minutes later372398.673.4
270 minutes later35219569.8
300 minutes later342193.269.8

These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the Zojirushi…

…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug…

Second test

For the second test I poured coffee into the Zojirushi at 10:42 am in the morning. It measured 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit). I measured it again at 17:08 pm. That’s six hours and 26 minutes later. It measured 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

That’s a drop of 35 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit). The second test showed similar results to 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 Coffee Detective says that the ideal temperature range for coffee is between 155ºF to 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC)

Driftaway Coffee‘s Scott says coffee should be between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).

It’s down to personal preference.

How to use it

Unscrew the Zojirushi’s lid, pour your beverage into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.

If you don’t want to scorch your lips, wait a few minutes before you screw the lid onto the main body after having filled it.

How to drink from it

To drink from the Zojirushi:

  1. Press the release button at the front of the mug.
    1. This releases the lid cover and it pops open.
    2. Don’t do this close to your face. The mug can build up pressure when sealed.
    3. Make sure the lid cover is flipped open all the way.
      1. If it’s not, it’ll touch your forehead when you drink from the mug.
  2. Put your lips to the Zojirushi’s sip area.
  3. Tilt back your head and sip.

How not to use it

The Zojirushi comes with a booklet chock full of warnings. Here’s what they say you shouldn’t do with it:

  1. Don’t allow small kids or babies to use it.
  2. Before using it, ensure that the lid cover gasket and stopper gasket are attached.
  3. Don’t fill it while the lid is attached to the main body.
  4. Make sure the lid cover is clipped into place after taking a sip.
  5. Stop using the mug if it doesn’t retain heat anymore.
  6. Don’t open the lid cover with the mug close to your face.
  7. Don’t heat it in a microwave oven.
  8. Don’t drink from the mug while driving.
  9. Drink slowly from it.
  10. Don’t shake the mug if it contains a beverage.
  11. Don’t put dry ice into it.

Can you use it for soup?

Zojirushi’s usage pamphlet says to not use it for drinking the following liquids:

  • Liquids high in sodium
    • Soup
    • Kombucha
  • Dairy
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit pulp
  • Tea leaves

I wanted to see whether it would handle soup.

I used the same soup I used for testing in the Contigo. It’s a creamy tomato soup.

I prepared it according to the packet’s instructions and strained it into a jug to remove large lumps. I poured the soup into the Zojirushi.

It wasn’t necessary to strain the soup, since the drinking hole is big enough. But I wanted to emulate the Contigo soup test.

The soup poured from the Zojirushi like a river.

The verdict?

Zojirushi says you can’t use it for soup. I’ve proven that you can use it for soup. But if you use it for soup, you do so at your own risk.

How to clean it

Follow these steps to clean your Zojirushi:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add detergent.
  2. Place the Zojirushi in the water.
  3. Remove the lid set from the main body.
    1. Remove the lid cover gasket from the lid set.
    2. Remove the stopper gasket from the lid set.
  4. Clean the lid set.
    1. Soak in warm water.
    2. Use a small, soft brush to get to hard-to-reach places.
  5. Remove the lid set from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  6. Wash the main body.
    1. Use a soft sponge.
  7. Remove the main body from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  8. Place the lid set, cover gasket, stopper gasket and main body on a rack to dry or use a cloth to dry.
  9. Place the stopper gasket and cover gasket back onto the lid set once all parts are dry.

Dishwasher safe?

The Zojirushi is not dishwasher safe. Wash it by hand.

Technical details

Tech specs for the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. Metric and Imperial.
 MetricImperial
Body materialFood-grade stainless steel
Lid materialPolypropylene
Gasket materialSilicon
Height (assembled)218mm8.58 inches
Height (lid set)70.6mm2.78 inches
Height (main body / tumbler)170mm6.69 inches
Maximum diameter (lid)86.2mm3.39 inches
Maximum diameter (main body / tumbler)82.1mm3.23 inches
Weight (assembled, dry)298g10.51 oz
Weight (assembled, filled with water)760g26.8 oz
Weight (lid)96g3.38 oz
Weight (main body / tumbler)203g7.16 oz

Construction

They make the Zojirushi’s lid from various materials, including polypropylene. They make the gaskets from silicon. The lid set contains small metal parts too.

They make the main body (tumbler) from a food-grade stainless steel.

Sizes

The Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA comes in one size:

  • 16 oz

Zojirushi makes more models in other sizes, including 12 oz and 20 oz.

Does it fit inside a cup holder?

That depends on the cup holder’s diameter.

The Zojirushi tapers up from ~69mm.

Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of ~76mm. The Zojirushi fits.

My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9. The Zojirushi fits the Evo’s cup holders.

Does the AeroPress fit?

Great news.

The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi. Can’t say the same for the Contigo West Loop.

Why is this important?

When you make AeroPress coffee in a different container and pour it into your travel mug, you lose heat with the transfer.

I made coffee inside the Zojirushi straight from the AeroPress and the temperature measured 73 degrees Celsius. When I made coffee in a stainless jug and poured it into the Zojirushi, the temperature measured 66 degrees.

The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi
The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi.

Colours

The Zojirushi comes in four colours:

  • Cherry red
  • Dark cocoa
  • Lime green
  • Stainless (plain silver)

Price

I bought the Zojirushi for under $30.

Size and colour determine the Zojirushi’s cost. The dark cocoa Zojirushi is the cheapest offering, while the cherry red is the most expensive.

Final thoughts

The Zojirushi is a good travel mug.

It’s leak- and spill proof. The locking system ensures that your coffee (or tea) goes nowhere when you’re juggling or shaking the Zojirushi.

It keeps your drink hot. The double sealed walls ensures that your Zojirushi’s contents remain hot for long. It retains heat better than the Contigo.

It’s not as easy to use or clean as the Contigo, but if you place a high premium on keeping your drink warm, get the Zojirushi.

Want to know which travel mug is the best between the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA and the Contigo West Loop? Click here.

Staresso Mini Espresso Maker

The Staresso is an outstanding portable mini espresso maker. Want to make barista quality espresso in your kitchen without breaking the bank on an espresso machine? The Staresso’s for you. It lets you make a decent espresso in under five minutes. And it saves you up to $178 per year.


I bought a Staresso espresso machine. I gave it away, but not before testing it well.

It’s an amazing espresso maker. Here’s why…

Makes great espresso

Before we get into anything else, let me tell you that the Staresso makes a lovely espresso.

The AeroPress is my go-to coffee maker (AeroPress review). But the AeroPress, despite claims, cannot make espresso.

The Staresso excels at making espresso.

Now, I’m not a qualified barista. But you don’t need a qualified barista to tell you when coffee is good. This tool makes good coffee. Besides, I’m appealing to the man in the street.

Affordable

For $60 you’ll enjoy cup after cup of excellent espresso.

That’s cheap, considering the Staresso doesn’t use filters. You buy the machine and pump out espressos for months or years to come.

The Staresso comes with parts that’ll wear out, but they’ll last long.

One of the world’s largest coffee chains—we’ll call them Siriusdollar—sells a single espresso for $1.45.

Your Staresso costs 41.38 Siriusdollar espressos.

That’s a few weeks’ worth of espressos, if you drink one a day.

That’s a great deal. For the cost of 41.38 over-the-counter espressos, you can make your own espresso in the comfort of your home, any time of the day, even if there’s NO electricity.

Mechanical

The Staresso is a mechanical espresso machine.

It needs a teensy bit of prep alongside a slice of manpower to produce a cup of espresso.

Electricity gone to pot? No problem. You need hot water, ground coffee and the Staresso.

Out camping in the middle of nowhere? Again, no problem. Pluck out the Staresso and drown your brain in caffeine.

Compact

The Staresso is small enough to qualify as a camp or travel espresso machine.

If your desire for caffeine overrides common sense, you’ll be happy to learn that the Staresso fits inside a large jacket pocket.

No filters

This is one of the best aspects of the Staresso. It doesn’t need paper filters.

I’m not saying that other espresso makers use paper filters. I don’t know. If there are espresso machines using paper filters, the Staresso is not one of them.

Quick

It takes under five minutes to make an Espresso with the Staresso. That’s from bringing cold water to boil, to putting your lips to the cup.

Solid

They make the Staresso’s plastic parts from a hard PCTG plastic. They make the metal parts from a food grade stainless steel.

When you push down on the Staresso, it feels solid. It doesn’t wobble around.

The cup holder has a rubber layer at the bottom which stabilises the Staresso when you use it.

Dislikes

The Staresso, like most products, comes with drawbacks, albeit negligible.

Small parts

The Staresso contains plenty of small parts, including o-rings.

If you lose one of those parts, the Staresso is useless.

Plastic and glass

I wouldn’t want to drop the Staresso. On one hand you have hard plastic parts, on the other, two glass cups.

The Staresso will give you years of delicious espresso, provided you look after it.

When you pack the Staresso, don’t put it under pressure. If you take it along when you go camping, pack it in the kitchen box on top of other items.

They can’t use a tougher plastic for the Staresso. The system’s working requires a rigid design. A tougher plastic might be flexible, but it would ruin the manual pump action.

Interrupted pressure

Unlike a standard electrical espresso maker, the Staresso doesn’t provide constant pressure.

Baristas will say that you must force water through coffee at a constant pressure of nine bars for 30 seconds.

It’s hard to get the pressure consistent with a hand pump.

This would only bother true coffee snobs. The taste of the Staresso’s espresso more than makes up for the lack of consistent pressure.

Price

You can buy the Staresso online for ~$60.

Cost of espresso

Let’s calculate the cost of an espresso made with the Staresso.

We’ll work on 365 espressos, one per day for a year.

We’ll cost water and electricity at $0.40 per cup.

You buy Death Wish coffee. It costs $1.25 per ounce ($0.04 per gram).

The Staresso makes a single espresso, since the coffee basket takes ten grams of ground coffee.

You don’t add sugar or milk.

Cost of a Staresso espresso:

Water & Electricity (per cup): $0.40.
10 grams of Death Wish coffee: $0.40.
Staresso device (per cup, if it lasts only a year): $0.16.
Total: $0.96.

It costs $0.96 for a Staresso espresso. Remember, it’s Death Wish coffee. It’s an expensive brand.

365 cups of Siriusdollar espressos put you back $529.25.

365 cups of Staresso Death Wish espressos put you back $350.40.

Using the Staresso saves you $178.85 per year.

Availability

The Staresso ships to various countries.

If the online store you buy from doesn’t ship the Staresso to your location, check out Aramex Global Shopper.

Warranty

I emailed Staresso from the email address I found on their site.

At first, the email address, info@staresso.com, didn’t work. A second message to that same address—from another email address—went through, and Amy from Staresso responded with…

We have 12 months warranty.  In some case we will offer FOC parts to send you from China, but some case you need to pay for the freight, we can offer you part.

In the box

The Staresso package contains:

  • Pump.
  • Water chamber.
  • Coffee basket.
  • Bottom cap.
  • Base.
  • Serving cups (2 of).
    • They look like large tot glasses.
  • Serving cup holder.
  • Coffee scoop.
  • Cleaning tool.
  • Spare o-ring.
  • User manual.

How to make an espresso

An espresso requires six to ten grams of fine coffee grounds, tamped into a portafilter basket through which you force 30ml to 45ml of water with a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius (194 Fahrenheit) at nine bars of pressure for 30 seconds.

The Staresso takes up to 80ml of water. It has two marks on the inside of the water chamber, one for a single shot espresso, one for a double shot. Can it make a double shot? I share that info further down below.

Follow these 15 steps to a delicious single espresso:

  1. Place the Staresso cup into the cup holder.
  2. Screw the base onto the cup holder.
  3. Fill the scoop with coffee.
  4. Pour the coffee from the scoop into the coffee basket.
  5. Tamp the coffee with the coffee scoop.
    • There should be ten grams of coffee inside the basket.
  6. Drop the coffee basket into the bottom cap.
  7. Screw the water chamber onto the bottom cap.
  8. Place the water chamber and bottom cap onto the cup holder.
  9. Heat water to 90 degrees Celsius in a kettle.
    • If you don’t have a variable temperature kettle, boil as usual.
  10. Fill the water chamber with 50 ml (up to the “One” mark).
  11. Screw the pump onto the water chamber.
  12. Pump the Staresso until all water is transferred from the water chamber into the cup.
  13. Remove the top section from the cup holder.
  14. Unscrew the Base from the cup holder.
  15. Remove the cup and enjoy your espresso.

Double espresso

A double espresso requires 15 grams of fine coffee grounds, tamped into a portafilter basket through which you force 60ml to 90ml of water with a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius (194 Fahrenheit) at nine bars of pressure for 30 seconds.

The Staresso’s water chamber allows for enough water to make a double espresso, however…

The coffee basket takes only ten grams of coffee.

The Staresso can’t make a double espresso.

Grind level

The Staresso uses an espresso grind.

We buy a house blend from Infood Coffee Society in Jeffreys Bay. I always ask for an AeroPress grind.

When I asked the baristas at Coffee Society to grind some of the coffee for an espresso machine, they said there’s no difference between an espresso grind and an AeroPress grind.

So if you own an AeroPress, you’re sorted for coffee grounds.

How long it takes

It takes me four minutes and 55 seconds to conjure an espresso with the Staresso.

That’s from boiling a cold kettle to taking the first sip.

I boiled 1.5l of water for the experiment. It’s a full kettle of water.

It’s quicker to make an espresso with the Staresso than it is to make a coffee with the AeroPress.

Milk espresso (Milkpresso?)

I tried to make a milkpresso with the Staresso. I did a similar thing with the AeroPress; a coffee made with heated milk only.

For this test, I heated full cream milk to 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit) in a stainless steel jug and used it in the Staresso, instead of water.

It didn’t work well. It tasted horrible. If you water it down it’ll taste better, but then you might as well make a normal espresso and add milk afterwards.

The Staresso struggled to get the milk through. The pressure was too much. This happened with the AeroPress too, when I made milk coffee with it.

Stick to using the Staresso for standard espressos.

Nespresso

You can use Nespresso style capsules in the Staresso.

One of our favourite coffee roasteries, Mastertons Coffee, makes a Nespresso-style coffee capsule. We bought some of them to test in the Staresso.

Follow these steps to make Nespresso style coffee with the Staresso.

  1. Place the Staresso cup into the cup holder.
  2. Screw the base onto the cup holder.
  3. Place a capsule into the coffee basket.
  4. Drop the coffee basket into the bottom cap.
  5. Stab three holes into the bottom of the capsule.
    1. Use the back of the Staresso cleaning brush or a pocket knife.
  6. Screw the water chamber onto the bottom cap.
  7. Place the water chamber and bottom cap onto the cup holder.
  8. Heat water to 90 degrees Celsius in a kettle.
    • If you don’t have a variable temperature kettle, boil as usual.
  9. Fill the water chamber with 50 ml (up to the “One” mark).
  10. Screw the pump onto the water chamber.
  11. Pump the Staresso until all water is transferred from the water chamber into the cup.
  12. Remove the top section from the cup holder.
  13. Unscrew the Base from the cup holder.
  14. Remove the cup and enjoy your espresso.

So what’s it taste like?

Not bad, but I prefer using coffee grounds.

Cold brew

Can the Staresso make a cold brew?

No, it can’t. Not a decent one, in any case.

A cold brew needs time. It doesn’t happen in minutes. Part of the magic of a cold brew is the time involved in making it.

For this test, I used the Staresso as advised, but instead of using boiled water, I used water with a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius.

It tasted weak. It’s far from a proper cold brew.

How to clean

Follow these steps to clean your Staresso. Work over a kitchen sink; the Staresso is messy.

  1. Unscrew the pump from the water chamber.
  2. Unscrew the bottom cap from the water chamber.
  3. Remove the coffee basket from the bottom cap.
  4. Chuck the used coffee into the bin.
    • Make sure you don’t throw away the o-ring or loose plastic part inside coffee basket.
  5. Rinse everything under hot or cold running water.
  6. Use the tiny Staresso brush to loosen coffee that’s stuck inside any of the parts.

Dishwasher safe?

I wouldn’t wash the Staresso in a dishwasher. There are too many small parts that might come loose.

Tech specs

Technical specs for the Staresso espresso maker.
 MetricImperial
Staresso assembled
Working pressure15 to 20 bar
Material (metal parts)Food grade 304 stainless steel
Material (plastic parts)PCTG (Bisphenol A free)
Material (cups)High boron silicon tempered glass
Weight451g15.9 oz
Height (without cup holder)~175mm~6.88 inches
Height (without cup holder, pump button down)~137.5mm~5.41 inches
Height (with cup holder, pump button up)~240mm~9.45 inches
Max diameter71.5mm2.81 inches
Pump
Weight70g2.47 oz
Height (pump button up)127.3mm5.01 inches
Height (pump button down)91mm3.58 inches
Max diameter60mm2.36 inches
Water chamber
Weight112g3.95 oz
Height101mm3.97 inches
Max diameter58.4mm2.29 inches
Coffee basket
Weight21g0.74 oz
Height31mm1.22 inches
Max diameter41.3mm1.63 inches
Bottom cap
Weight27g0.95 oz
Height44.4mm1.75 inches
Max diameter48.5mm1.9 inches
Base
Weight31g1.09 oz
Height44.5mm1.75 inches
Max diameter70.45mm2.77 inches
Serving cup
Weight136g4.79 oz
Height71mm2.79 inches
Max diameter63.3mm2.49 inches
Cup holder
Weight55g1.94 oz
Height69.2mm2.72 inches
Max diameter71.5mm2.81 inches
Coffee scoop
Weight4g0.14 oz
Height27.2mm1.07 inches
Max width54.7mm2.15 inches

Sources

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for a premium portable espresso maker at a great price, you need the Staresso.

It makes a delicious espresso. The fact that a friend wanted to buy my Staresso after having tasted an espresso made with it (despite him owning a grand electric espresso machine), testifies that this is the real deal.

It’s cheap. Consider for a moment what an electric espresso maker puts you back. And once you have one, I wish you the best in sorting out technical issues.

It’s small. The Staresso is small enough to take along when you travel or go camping. Start your morning with a caffeine kick to the head, no matter where you are.

It’s mechanical. No electricity needed. If you have hot water, coffee grounds and the Staresso, you have an espresso.

It’s solid. The Staresso’s low price tag might have you believe it’s a low quality product. That’s not the case. The Staresso’s parts are made from high quality materials. It’s sturdy while you use it, and the rubber base makes it stand firm on a countertop.

It’s quick. In under five minutes you have a delicious espresso.

The Staresso is a winner. I recommend it.