Coffee Facts

Standard Coffee Cup Sizes: Espresso, Lattes, And More

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We spend a lot of time writing about coffee and different coffee products that can enhance your experience with this popular daily drink. But what about the vitally important object that holds this special drink?

That’s right, today we will be talking about the coffee cup.

Compared to the rest of the world, the United States is notoriously known for it’s larger than life cup sizes. You go to any McDonald’s or movie theater and you get a cup that is around 3 times the size of anything abroad.

But what about coffee? Is there a global standard when it comes to the standard cup size?

How big is a standard coffee cup?

It’s important to note that the cup is not globally recognized as a standard measurement in all countries. Therefore, making a simple cup of coffee actually becomes a bit of a challenge.

Add different mug sizes, travel mugs, and various cup sizes and you are in for a real test.

The Imperial System vs. The Metric System

So why is this all so difficult? For one, the United States is only one of three other countries in the entire world that use the imperial system (think cups, ounces, tablespoons, miles, etc.).

Because we know you’re wondering, the other two countries on the imperial system are Myanmar and Liberia.

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The rest of the world uses the metric system (think kilometers, milliliters, and so on).

Why does this matter? Well, countries using the metric system argue that the standard cup size is 250 milliliters (about 8.45 ounces). However, here in the United States, we view a standard cup as 8 fluid ounces.

If that wasn’t complicated enough, let’s throw one more wrench into the mix. Japan decided to make its own rules on coffee and cups. They declared a single cup size to be only 200 milliliters (6.76 ounces).

So how big is a standard coffee cup? In short, it depends on which country you are in and which coffee cup sizes they are using as their standard size.

How many ounces is a standard coffee mug?

Coffee mugs are very different from cups. They are thicker, almost always have handles, and hold a larger amount of liquid than other types of cups. As a general rule, cups are usually smaller and used for tea. Mugs, on the other hand, are usually used for coffee or hot chocolate.

Typically, a coffee mug in the United States holds approximately 8-12 ounces of liquid, but they can honestly come in a variety of mug sizes and shapes.

There are even extra large coffee mug sizes that run from 20-25 ounces. These are the ones we usually drink soup or eat out of…but hey no judgment here if it’s been a day and that’s the perfect amount of coffee for you.

Standard Coffee Cup Sizes

Finding the Perfect Cup/Coffee Mug size

Now that we’ve gone over cups and coffee mugs, let’s explore a bit more. What if you aren’t just trying to drink coffee or tea? Believe it or not, size matters, and not all cup sizes are created equally. There are several coffee cup sizes to choose from, and the average coffee mug size just isn’t going to cut it.

If you are a cappuccino lover like we are, the appropriate drinkware for this popular Italian beverage would be a cup that is 5 to 5.5oz (150-160 ml).

A latte would also have a slightly larger mug size of 11-15 ounces. This is to accommodate some extra wiggle room for the milk involved.

If you prefer the simplicity of a beautiful espresso, the cup size you should be looking for is 2-3 ounces.

Warning! Don’t think you can get away with just tossing your espresso into a larger cup size.

The cup size for any espresso is extremely important. If you pour the espresso into a larger coffee cup or coffee mug instead of an espresso cup, the crema will spread out, causing it to thin and disappear quickly. The size of an espresso cup also protects your coffee from getting cold too quickly.

Something Off the Beaten Path

Are you looking for something a little less traditional than the type of drinks mentioned above? Why not try a macchiato or a cortado? You don’t even have to fly to Italy or Spain to enjoy these drinks.

If you prefer more of a milk-based drink, a cortado typically uses a glass cup that is 4.5 ounces. Not too familiar with a cortado? You can find more information on it by clicking here.

If a stronger taste is more your style, then a macchiato might just be the way to go. With its 2:1 ration of espresso and milk, this drink not only has a stronger coffee taste but it’s also good to drink before running out the door. Since it only requires a 2-3 ounce cup with less milk than a piccolo latte, you can finish it quickly while still enjoying its rich taste.

Standard Coffee Cup Sizes

Traveling Drinkware

Now that we’ve covered various cup sizes for your everyday lives, what about sizes for when you’re on the go?

Whether you use them to carry coffee, tea, or simply just water, travel mugs and tumblers have become an essential part of our everyday lives.

As avid users of travel mugs and tumblers ourselves, we know that the perfect drinkware can literally make or break your day. Nightmares of leaky travel mugs while running to work flashing before your eyes? We know.

Having the right fit can really make a difference. Both the size and the volume of liquid these travel cups can hold are part of that experience. The average size is 15-20 ounces, but depending on your needs you can occasionally find ones that are designed to be both bigger or smaller. This means there is always something for everyone.

Starbucks Coffee Cup Sizes

Some mornings just need an extra kick to them. But how many ounces is a large coffee? Technically, a large cup of coffee would be known as a 16-ounce cup. However, Starbucks coffee changed the game by getting rid of naming standard coffee cup sizes and coffee mug sizes by the actual number.

Instead, they had the brilliant idea to give them the names “short” (8 oz), “tall” (12 oz), “grande” (16 oz), and “venti” (20 oz). So now their customers can walk into any Starbucks around the world, language barriers aside, and they can order any of their drinks in any of their sizes without a sweat. Thank you globalization!

By only having their tall, grande, and venti on display, they have also simultaneously made it socially acceptable for the tall (12 oz) to be the new small, a grande, a medium, and a venti, a large. We see what you did there Starbucks.

The Take Home

There are many different sizes when it comes to coffee cups and mugs. It even differs between countries around the world. Starbucks may have changed the game by renaming its sizes, but whenever there isn’t a Starbucks around the corner, or you have to be your own at-home barista, you now know which sizes of cups you need.

We don’t expect you to run home and start measuring all the cups and mugs in your cupboard. But now that you have the knowledge, you can make an informed and educated decision on which one works best for your own personal beverage of choice.

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