What is the best cup size for coffee?

This a simple question that is not easy to answer without considering multiple criteria to find the right coffee cup. Before we go any further, defining a coffee cup is worth defining.

A small open container, usually with a flat bottom and a handle, used for drinking.

The free dictionary

But this blog is not about just any drink but coffee. Therefore, in this article, I will explain which cup should be used depending on the coffee you drink.

Glass vs cup: What is the difference?

When choosing between glasses and cups, it’s important to consider the shape of the container. While glasses can be made of glass or crystal, cups can be made of porcelain or pottery with a handle.

  • Glass is typically cylindrical, with a wider or narrower opening.
  • Cups are small or medium-sized vessels with a handle and a more or less wide opening. Additionally, cups are often paired with a small plate, known as a saucer.

The handle on a cup allows for easy and safe handling without the risk of burning your hand, making it a popular choice for hot beverages like coffee or tea.

With a wide variety of sizes, materials, and styles available on the market, selecting the right cup can greatly enhance the taste and enjoyment of your drink.

When choosing between a glass or a cup, consider the occasion and the beverage served to determine which vessel best suits your needs.

What will be the purpose of the coffee cup?

Will it be for professional use in a coffee shop or for personal use at home? The answer to this question will determine the features you will need in your mug.

Porcelain mugs are a very suitable option for professional use in the catering trade. In this case, thickness and strength characteristics that are not necessary for a mug for domestic use will also be required.

The intensive use of coffee or tea cups in the catering industry requires different characteristics to those of family tableware. Hospitality mugs need to be thicker and more resistant, as they have to withstand many washings in the dishwasher due to continuous use during a working day.

What kind of material do I choose for the coffee cup?

Porcelain, ceramic, glass, or plastic, the decision here, is heavily influenced by the heat loss of the coffee cup and the contribution of unwanted flavours to the coffee.

Plastic coffee cup

The plastic keeps the temperature but gives off not very pleasant plastic flavours. It is also true that, with use, the plastic becomes impregnated with coffee flavour, diminishing this sensation.

It is widely used in takeaway and large drinks such as Americano, and it is the best way to preserve the temperature of the coffee if the drinks are large. It is usually accompanied by a lid that prevents rapid temperature loss.


Glass does not influence the taste but does not retain heat well. However, the appearance of double-glazed glasses allows us to prepare presentations that we cannot achieve with other types of glasses or cups.

Double-glazed glass
Double-glazed glass

It is now used in elegant double-walled designs, even for presenting small cups and mugs, ideal for an espresso or macchiato. Some baristas even choose larger models for making lattes.

Their advantage is their elegance and visual impact, with a transparent wall that allows a perfect view of the contents and retains heat much better.

Ceramic or porcelain coffee cup

Ceramic and coarse porcelain, do not alter the taste and retain the temperature of the coffee.

They are still the most commonly used coffee cups despite the advance of glass because of their presentation.

The ideal vessel is the coffee cup with a small opening to concentrate the aromas and, above all, a thick layer of foam; with a U-shaped bottom so that when the espresso coffee falls, the cream does not come apart.

What type of coffee will be served in the cup?

The size of the cup you use to serve coffee depends on the type of coffee you’re serving.

For instance, if you’re using an espresso machine, you’ll need cups specifically designed to hold espresso, cortado, cappuccino, latte, and other variations your customers may request.

Even if you’re making espresso at home, you’ll find it more enjoyable to drink from a smaller cup that’s the right size for the amount of coffee you extract.

Remember that the cup’s size will vary depending on the type of coffee or tea you’re serving.

What is the recommended size?

Without taking a second away from coffee, choosing a cup for espresso is not the same as for a cappuccino or a filter coffee. Espressos are served in cups of about 60 millilitres.

A latte or cappuccino requires a larger cup, around 150 to 200 millilitres. Breakfast coffees require 300 ml or more cups as you will put twice as much coffee and milk.

For infusions and filter coffees, the 60 ml of espresso cup would be ridiculous, and you will need much larger cups to offer this type of infusion or filter coffee.

The diversity of designs and sizes of cups, glasses and mugs in bars and restaurants is related to the type of coffees, coffee blends, and infusions served in the catering trade.

Some standard capacities of cups that you can find on the market:

  • Espresso: 60- 80ml.
  • Lungo: 100 – 220 ml.
  • Latte: 240 – 300 ml.
  • Cappuccino: 200 – 300 ml.
  • Mugs: 250 – 500 ml.
  • Carafe: 300 or 400 ml.

Should coffee cups be white?

Traditionally coffee cups are usually white. Studies show that the cup’s colour influences the perception of the quality and different nuances of coffee.

And there is a good reason for this: coffee contrasts strongly with the dark colour of the coffee.

In the case of espresso, espresso lovers like their coffee to be intense, and the contrast between the white and black of the coffee is achieved very well with the white coffee cup.

The contrast between the white of the porcelain and the black of the coffee gives the sensation that the coffee is stronger and richer in nuances, even though it is the same as if served in a transparent cup.

But using a white cup limits us when it comes to showing our personality and trend at home and in our business. Yes, nowadays, the quality of the materials is more important than using only white.