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Zojirushi SM-JA48BA Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug

By Jesse Kornbluth
Published: Nov 27, 2012
Category: Food and Wine

“Triple grande latte….. Jesse.”

I only visit the Starbucks around the corner on weekends, but they know my name and order. They should. I’ve been doing this for almost a decade. The coffee is actually for my wife, home from the office wars. But why burden even a friendly barista with irrelevant information? I am on a mission.

That mission is only half-finished when I put the heat sleeve on the coffee at the pick-up counter. Next: getting it upstairs before it cools. This seems simple: we live 100 yards away, and the elevator awaits.

Still… the coffee cools.

You really want to transfer that $5.17 latte to better technology — and fast.

We declined to buy the $20 stainless steel tumbler they sell at Starbucks. If the message boards on Starbucks.com have it right, “It leaks unless you get the lid on perfectly. Sometimes it takes me 3-4 tries to get the lid on completely level.” We also passed on the $13 Starbucks double-wall ceramic travel mug because “the heat radiates to the outside making it hot to hold. Needs a cozy or sleeve of some sort to make it really usable.”

A committed study of coffee technology led us, inexorably, to the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug. It does exactly what it’s supposed to. Hot stays hot. Cold stays cold. [To buy the Zojirushi mug from Amazon, click here.]

What is astonishing about the Zojirushi is how long hot stays hot and how long cold stays cold. Fill it with 16 ounces of steaming coffee in the morning, and six hours later, you can still burn your lips. Put ice cubes in a cold drink, and, six hours later, there’s still ice.

Stylish? It’s sleek. At 9.5 inches, it’s just the right size for a tote. And in black, it’s on Anna Wintour’s Christmas list. (It also comes in red, silver and rose.)

There are two things you should know before you buy.

1) This is not really a mug. Repeat: not a mug. You could remove the top and drink from it, but the lip is not as mouth-friendly as you may be used to. Best to use it as a thermos and pour your drink into a cup or glass.

2) Cleaning is not as simple as it is on the traveling mugs you’re used to. There is some extra work taking apart the lid. Looking at the instructions, you’ll wish you could read Japanese. In fact, you can do this.

Small caveats. Nothing compared to the pluses: Hot stays hot, cold stays cold. Well, and also how cool it looks.