I don’t have particularly extreme requirements for a reusable cup. I’m not a hiker. I’m not a camper. I’m not a cyclist. It’s not really a travel mug that I want. I’m not even a coffee connoisseur. But, I do value adaptability—as a fan of both hot and cold coffee—and convenience. For the legion of you like me, then—the “normal” caffeine consumers—let me introduce you to the glorious Frank Green 3-in-1 Insulated Drink Holder ($40). It is the secret sauce, the Goldilocks cup … it’s just right.
Now, I will confess that before I got to the 3-in-1, it was another Frank Green product—the 595-ml reusable bottle—that came closest to being my ideal vessel of choice. I was sure I’d stumbled upon the brand for me, with colorful options and strong materials touted along with a focus on adaptability. I had, in fact, found the right cupmaker for me, but not the right product quite yet.
Put a Lid On It
Photograph: Frank Green
Frank Green 3-In-1 Insulated Drink Holder$40 at Frank Green
The Frank Green reusable bottle was robust with strong insulation, and I thought it’d be just what I was looking for. It was only after some serious commuting that problems revealed themselves. For example, before setting off on my merry way, trying to find room in my bag, which was typically already rammed with tech to review, wasn’t easy. My shoulder bag of choice even had a welcoming slot for a cup to nestle in, but Frank’s larger option was, well, too large.
Getting to the office, the niggles would mount. Did I bring both the push-button lid (better for hot drinks) and the straw lid (better for cold drinks)? Had I remembered to wash both of them? And, had I washed both (reasonably intricate) parts well enough? I’d typically wait until I arrived at work before my first cup of coffee, meaning these unwanted questions were haranguing a fuzzy and caffeine-deprived mind. All too often, the answer to at least one of those questions was “no.”
You see, both this larger Frank Green cup and some from rivals that heavily tout insulation chops, like the Chillys Series 2 cup, come with a thin metal rim around the top. Whether I was cleaning them at home or doing a speedy wipe at work if it had slipped my mind the night before, my hand would pick up nicks. A seam runs up the inside of the cup and meets the slim rim at the top, creating a skin-pinching problem when wedging your hand inside to clean. The 595 ml was the worst culprit, with its larger size requiring I delve as deep into the cup as I could, cramming my fingers in as if trying to get those last few Pringles from the bottom of a can, but, in this case, with a soggy communal sponge. Lost lids, perforated palms, and a bulked-up bag—initial coffee-cup joy had given way to a daily grind. This wasn’t going to work.
For a short time, I retreated to the smaller version of Frank’s ceramic reusable cup, but with no straw option, it wasn’t the convenience champ I was looking for. And the chaotic cleaning remained. Several months passed. I’d occasionally use the cup, revert to a mug, or, in poor form on my part, not use a reusable cup at all—shamefully taking whatever landfill option the coffee shop gave me.
The Size of It
Then, one day, idly browsing for a new perfect container as I mulled over whether different combinations of lids would work, or whether an altogether new style of cup would be the solution, I found myself once again back on the Frank Green site. Then I saw it. The 3-in-1. An insulated holder of hot drinks, cold drinks, and canned beverages. It was the simplicity of it, clean lines, stylish colors, and no fuss. No lids to screw on, no buttons to push down, no essential accessories to remember. I wasted no time. I picked my color and placed my order.
After a thorough (and painless) clean, I got using it right away, like a kid on Christmas morning. I happily marched into the coffee shop on my way into the office, easily removed the lid, and proudly placed it on the counter: “Flat white, please.”
The next day, I was back. Working in London, no matter the season, the Tube gets warm, so it was time for a cold option. Again, swiftly removing the lid, I requested my iced coffee. My cup was returned, and I comfortably nestled the lid on top once again. Now, though, it was time for the included straw to make its debut. I put it in the deftly designed hole. The entry point is exceedingly pleasant to drink from without a straw, but it fits the metal utensil perfectly. Though be warned: This hole is always exposed, so the 3-in-1 forbids premaking coffee to transport to work in my bag—not a big issue for my short commute though, but it could well be a dealbreaker for you.
I returned to my desk, and, whether I drank with a straw, used the lid on its own, or removed the lid altogether, every sip was satisfying, filled with a smug glee from not only the quality of the beverage but knowing I’d found the perfect cup for my needs. That feeling would last, too, typically holding the temperature for nearly three hours.
In my previous life, when I was unsatisfied with my reusable cup, my forgetfulness around cleaning the top was induced by the effort it would require to wash elaborate, strongly insulated lids. But the 3-in-1 lid is merely a thick plastic top with a seal around the edge, no nooks and crannies to get into, no ridges or lips for crud to hide. Out of sheer laziness, I’d previously wait until I got home to resolve the more involved process, but now I can quickly go to the office kitchen before I leave work and make the 3-in-1 spick and span in a jiffy.
Tellingly, after my first couple of weeks of using the Frank Green 3-in-1, I hadn’t forgotten and left the cup, or the straw, at home, or felt irked by its mere presence in my bag. At 425 ml, it sits securely in the beverage holder within my shoulder sling, and I can keep the straw safely within it—easily. No second lid needed. Convenience and adaptability, with little to fret over.
Outside the office, I use this cup for everything, taking advantage of all three features. As the cup is friendly to both cleaning and drinking around the edges, I often use it lidless at home. Less insulation, yes, but supreme usability trumps this sacrifice every time. The drinks holder feature is the one I use the least. The cup comes with a nifty attachment that replaces the lid and sturdily holds your canned beverage in place. It’s an add-on that I don’t regularly carry with me but, when I’ve used it at home, it keeps my drink suitably cold.
I’ve even used the 3-in-1 as a cocktail glass (and for other alcoholic beverages). Connoisseurs who recommend chilling your ingredients beforehand and then decanting them into cut crystal may wince, but there’s something delightful about the delicate clinking of ice against the side of this cup. I sip away, happy at the knowledge the cubes are going nowhere for a good while.
Frankly, I’d love to take this cup everywhere with me, to sports games, to the cinema, to the pub—but despite its unassuming size, I feel silly taking it out at such places. But that’s not the point. The fact that I miss the 3-in-1 when it’s not with me is. That’s the feeling I’ve been left with: I use this cup nearly all the time, and yet I long to use it more.