Posted by: wrmcnutt | April 30, 2009

Product Review – the OXO Liquidseal(tm) Travel Mug


One of the mistakes novice coffee drinkers make is the use of the warming plate.  As all good Americans know, coffee is intended to be served and consumed hot.  (Iced coffee, of course, is fine for other cultures, but if you’re drinking cold coffee on purpose, you might was well be French.)

Naturally, the first thing you think of when you take your first absent minded swig of coffee left on your desk for an hour, is “golly gee, that tasted like the south end of a northbound mule.”  And so the ill-fated experiment with the warming plate begins.  A warming plate is a symple device designed to plug into the wall and, typically using a resistance coil, deliver a small amount of heat to whatever vessel is placed upon it.  It’s an intuitive call, and all novice coffee drinkers make it.  The problem is, a warming plate doesn’t actually keep the coffee warm.  It continues to cook it.  All “warmed” coffee tastes burnt after about an hour.  Picture your favorite cop show.  A running gag in the genre is that Police Station coffee sucks.  Everybody complains about it. 

In fact, one of my favorite scenes from Castleinvolves the title character, Nathan Fillians Rick Castle, getting his first taste of Police Station Coffee.  As a novelist, he’s always excited about new experiences that can add depth to his fiction, and he waxes enthusiastic about the flavor for two minutes.  My favor line is, “Wow.  It’s as though . . . as though a monkey urinated in battery acid! Here!  Try it!”

But I digress.  The point is that contiuing to add heat to coffee after it’s done makes it burnt and bitter.  So having established that we can’t continue to add heat, we need to try to keep coffee hot.  And so begins our quest for the Perfect Travel Mug.

My own sojourn into the wilderness of travel mugology very quickly resulted in an understanding of the species of travel mug. Checking such consumer rating sites as epinions.com and amazon.com, I quickly came to understand that the tribe of travel mugs can be divided into two clans.

The first clan is the clan of Keeping Your Coffee Warm While Spilling It All Over Your Stuff.  There is a rather large selection of mugs on the market that are members of this clan.  Pricing on these mugs is also all over the landscape. You can get them for as low as three dollars or spend as much as thirty dollars on them, and they’ll all keep your coffee warm for three or four hours, as long as you don’t care if your coffee gets sloshed all over your dashboard or inside your briefcase or backpack.

The second clan is the Clan of Lack of Leakage.  Sturdy and secure, these mugs will keep your coffee from sloshing in the cup holder, and many of them can be flung into a briefcase with your valuable papers without fear that you will end up with everything stained coffee-colored by the end of your commute. They will also keep your coffee hot for an hour or so.  There are a bunch of these on the market, and, like the Keeping it Warm While Spilling clan, the Lack of Leakage clan prices are all over the landscape, from three dollars to thirty.

Is is also worth noting that both clans have a visual rating of anywhere from elegantly stylish to butt-ugly.

After several days (I spent a ludicrous amount of time on this) I discovered the stainless steel Oxo Brand Good Grips Liquiseal(tm) Travel Mug.  This mug, apparently does the impossible.  I’ve been using it for two weeks now, and it appears to keep my coffee warm while warding off most spills.  I still wouldn’t just toss it in my briefcase, but when  the seal is set, a dropped mug only drips a couple of drops, and that’s sealed well enough for my purposes.

I was first attracted to the Goodgrips because I know the Oxo brand.  They have a history of innovative and effective design for kitchenware and household goods, and while I don’t generally purchase items on the strength of brand-name only, a company with a proven track record for quality is often a good bet.  A thorough review of the customer reviews said it did both jobs admirably.  (Although I did run into a few spill-worthy reviews that claimed that though they spilled easily, they kept the coffee hotter longer.)  I selected the stainless steel option because I think it does a better job maintaining the vaccum between the inner core and outer layer of the mug.   Those lucky few of you who have seen the inside of my chariot also know that any product I carry with me needs to include the phrase “nigh indestructible” in its description.  If you prefer different colors or are less likely to beat the daylights out of your travel mug, you can save a few bucks by buying the plastic version.

All of that said, there were frequent reviews complaining of how hard the lid mechanism is to clean. Apparently many people have had problems with “crud buildup” inside the sealed mechanism, leading to odors and “passionately phrased” concerns about hygene.  Thus far, I’ve found that a daily rinse appears to be keeping the mechanism clean, and I drink my coffee with cream.

So, to sum up, I find that, so far, the Oxo Goodgrips Liquiseal(tm) Travel Mug to live up to it’s ad claims.  Good hangtime for beverage heat, and very, very spill resistant.  The fastidious among us should consider carefully before purchasing.

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Responses

  1. This really must be a coffee drinkers’ thing. As a water or soda drinker, the appropriate vessel search pretty much ends at large capacity and fairly spill resistant. So far my preferred choice is a Rubbermaid one liter bottle. It holds a liter, you can fit ice through the lid, and it takes a lot of effort to actually spill it.

    • I’m rapidly discovering that. I would have thought that everyone needed a good travel mug. I’m learning differently.


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