Tips for Carrying Hot Coffee in a Wheelchair

People with mobility issues can find it difficult to carry hot coffee, as they have limited options for where to place their cups. For those living with a disability, there are lots of challenges to overcome. One of the toughest is holding a hot cup of coffee without spilling it on their lap, arm, or the floor.

Wheelchair users often have limited grip strength. This could be a result of an injury to the upper body or some other health condition. It can be difficult to hold a cup of hot coffee as they wheel up to their desk in the morning — and keep it from spilling down on their lap. 

Here’s a quick tip that has worked for someone I know: Keep your hand and wrist as straight as possible. This will help prevent you from spilling the hot liquid on yourself. In the next section, I share my best tips for carrying hot coffee in a wheelchair. 

Following tips can help someone in a wheelchair carry hot coffee safely

Use a mug with a handle

Coffee mugs often have handles that are large enough for a person to grasp easily with two or three fingers. Using such mugs makes it easier to hold and transport hot coffee. Also, this is the easiest trick to prevent drink spillage, especially if you do not prefer cup holders installed on the wheelchair

If you buy coffee from cafes like Starbucks or Stumptown, you can transfer the contents into a mug with a handle immediately after getting home. Most coffee shops prefer to use paper cups with a lid, which is not an ideal option for someone with limited grip strength. 

Use a travel mug with a lid that closes tightly

Folks can securely screw the top of travel mugs onto their cup before drinking from them, allowing them to move around without spilling coffee. Many companies make travel mugs designed specifically for hot beverages. 

If you are someone who travels in a wheelchair, I would recommend sealing off the coffee cup temporarily with a lid. This way the content of the cup will remain within. Several reusable coffee cups and mugs are available in the market that comes with a lid. 

The last thing you want is for a hot liquid to spill all over you as you’re wheeling up to your desk or getting into your car. If you’re going to buy one travel mug, get one big enough to hold at least 16 ounces so you don’t have to refill it constantly.

Use a tray

Some wheelchairs come with trays attached, and others may have specific places where people can attach trays that come separately. A tray can hold the coffee mug while the occupant drinks from it. It also allows them to move around without worrying about spilling the contents of their cup. 

A wheelchair user might also use a tray as an alternative to placing their mug on a table surface in another location. A wheelchair tray allows the occupant to sit back and relax. No more bending forward or stretching the upper body to grab the coffee mug. They can also keep snacks, a smartphone, or medicines on the same tray. 

A tray attached to the wheelchair may be a good idea for the disabled person to put their drink on and easily move around without worrying about spilling their cup. Caregivers or family members of the wheelchair user can help install an external tray if the wheelchair doesn’t have one. 

Wrap the cup in a paper towel or napkin

Holding a hot coffee paper cup with bare hands can be dangerous. You could spill the hot beverage onto your lap and suffer from moderate burns. If you drink coffee from a paper cup, I would suggest wrapping up the cup in a paper towel or a napkin. 

This will also make it easier to grip the cup. The paper towel or a napkin will act as a heat insulator preventing you from feeling any sort of your fingers. Also, this is an economical solution for folks looking for tips for carrying hot coffee in a wheelchair.

Use an insulated cup

Insulated cups are a great way to keep coffee warm for longer durations. Since the outer layer is insulated by special material, you can touch the cup with your bare skin. You won’t get burned. 

Some insulated cups have double-walled layering. The outer layer is never exposed to the hot contents, as a result, the outer layer does not get heated. It is a simple modification to the regular coffee cup but the results are amazing. 

The only downside of an insulated cup is it can be expensive. A good quality insulated cup is four to five times costlier than a regular ceramic/plastic coffee cup. I recommend double-walled stainless steel insulated cups as they last longer— they are worth every penny. 

Use a mug sleeve

Some coffee mugs have built-in sleeves, while others have sleeves that people can purchase and attach separately to their coffee mugs. The sleeve keeps the coffee warm by preventing heat from escaping through the surface of the mug. It also protects someone’s hands from burns, which is especially important for people with disabilities who may be unable to assess whether a hot drink is too hot to hold or not.

Wear an insulated sleeve

Insulated beverage sleeves from cafes or grocery stores come in handy for hot and cold drinks. They can be easy to carry without having to worry about their size or shape upfront. In addition, they block the heat very well so that someone doesn’t burn their fingers while drinking something hot like coffee.

Insulated sleeves can also be especially useful for keeping liquids warm outdoors in cold weather, without the assistance of electricity or a heating source. It may take slightly longer to drink a beverage from an insulated sleeve because people need to wait for it to thaw, but the drink will remain hot for longer, reducing the need to refill.

Insulated sleeves may keep hot drinks warm without the need for a heated tray or table. The sleeve slides around the cup to keep it warm, so a person can use their cup more easily throughout the day. Although they may not look very cool, insulated sleeves can keep a hot drink warm and protect the hands that hold the cup.

Use a cup holder

Some wheelchairs come with cupholders, but others don’t. If yours doesn’t have one built-in, there are other ways you can attach one. You could use Velcro and attach it to your armrest or the back of your chair. Just make sure any cup holder you buy will fit onto those surfaces securely


Getting a warm drink is easy when a person can hold their mug in their hands. It can be more difficult for people who use wheelchairs to carry hot drinks around, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a hot beverage. My goal with this article was to share tips for carrying hot coffee in a wheelchair. I want to help people with mobility challenges enjoy their best cup of coffee at home or out and about.

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