Thursday, March 25, 2010

Travel Mugs

This is food related. Mostly.

It's about a really timely food-on-the-go issue because I really like my coffee. A lot. Granted, I like it a lot less than I did when I was juggling five classes, a job, and design responsibilities. But I still don't consider a day started until I've had my cup of coffee, even when it doesn't happen until six or seven in the evening. (Creating a "grown-up" schedule is extraordinarily difficult and I don't know how you all do it. Mornings. What are those? I'm still having trouble working breakfast into my routine. Meaning, it never happens.)

(Photo courtesy of and

Travel mugs are the bane of my existence. Mostly because I can never get them clean, no matter what I do. Handwashing. Soaking. Dishwashing (and I'm not even sure if they're dishwasher safe to begin with. I don't care, I need them clean.)

Regardless of what kind of inappropriate cleaning methods I use, they always smell like funky two-week old coffee that's been sitting in the sun coagulating, with a slight aftertaste of dish soap. So I was pretty excited when my foodbuzz email was profiling travel mugs. At last, I could read about a travel mug and maybe it would have some kind of crazy new feature that would actually allow them to reach some level of cleanliness that wouldn't ruin every pot of coffee we make.

But no, instead, it was discussing these travel mugs that look like to-go coffee cups. I'd seen them in Bed, Bath, & Beyond already (or similar product, different brand, I don't remember), there's also a faux iced coffee cup as well. I pointed them out to Dan because they are quirky. A novelty item. A "Hey, look at this, Honey, that's so funny but I'm not paying $19.95 for this!" item.

But foodbuzz described them as "stylish".

Really? Stylish?

Novel, yes. Cute, yes. Office conversation piece, yes.

Stylish? How? How in anyway are to-go containers in any sense of the word stylish? This isn't sleek or sophisticated or anything. It's a washable version of things that were made to give us the convenience of not washing them and thereby increasing waste and our notions of disposable commodities. You either don't think about them at all because they're a daily part of your routine and are not stylish because you are not given any kind of say in their aesthetics OR you do think about them and avoid them like the plague because you disagree with the notion of a disposable life.

Either way, they're still not stylish. How can something bereft of style be stylish (blah blah blah, questions our notions of style, blah blah blah Vassar sociology discussions)? And I know it's easy to discuss how the irony of non-disposable disposable-ware is a statement of style, but really, it's just a statement. Who is really buying this because they think it's chic, which is what I think the word "stylish" implies?

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a funny little piece. I wish I'd thought of it, because that's money in the bank right there. They are just not stylish. That is all.

To top it off, I got so distracted by all this that I never even learned if they are dishwasher safe (turns out, they are).

In other news, Spring is here and we are not going back to Winter.

We are going for long walks with the puppy.

And finding all of those nice signs of life that mean it's time for sunshine and not snow.

It has also made me want to move south, because this winter thing is not working out for me.


  1. You are hilarious! I don't drink coffee but I do share your distaste for travel mugs. They bother me.

    P.S-Great LOST episode this week huh??

  2. Blair. I cannot even express how fond I am of Richard right now. And I can't decide which side I'm on. There's no way of figuring out who is good and who is evil. The week of suspense in between episodes is killing me!

  3. I love this post and the photos, Liz. I also loathe disposable mugs and how they eerily transform the taste of perfectly good coffee. As for the "to go" cups, they do seem to be in a bit of an identity crisis with their throw away looks but permanent claims. And as for the style, you had me cracking up - reminds me of John Cage's 4'33" silent music "composition." I get the concept behind "nothing" being the beginning/blank slate of "something"...but that doesn't mean it is stylish, unless stylish is the feeling some get for reflecting on all of this.

  4. That's exactly how I feel, Laura. The worst part is, I need something that I can take in the car that won't spill everywhere so I don't have to keep buying gas station coffee. I don't know what to do. I guess I just have to actually buy one that can go in the dishwasher and just soak it in bleach every time I use it. I think bleach might taste better than what my travel mugs currently taste like.

    For more insight on the style of faux-disposable-ware, the reviews on Amazon are pretty worthwhile. People either love them because of how "stylish" they are (I swear people are reviewing them and claiming them as such) or they hate them because apparently they "leak like a sieve", verbatim from several displeased users. I guess everyone who gave them a 5-star rating put the fact that they leak aside because they're just so stylish utility is a total afterthought.

  5. No. Not stylish. I totally agree. I love my coffee too, but isn't the pleasure of it partly the warm ceramic cup in your palm. Well, for me, it is. I am cold blooded.

    Spring IS here. It's awesome!

  6. I do love that, but my car would be much more of a mess than it already is if I were to allow coffee to slosh all over the place!