The world of coffee and espresso cups is an interesting yet confusing one, from questions as fundamental as asking what constitutes espresso to the confusing world of what size is an espresso cup. Things in coffee land may not be as navigable as one may think they would be; that’s fine. Just sit back, sip a cup of espresso, and read our article.
Since espresso is fundamentally very concentrated coffee, it is essential to limit the size of espresso cups to a minuscule amount. For cafes in the United States, the standard size of an espresso cup would be two fluid ounces.
In this article, we will discuss the standard cup sizes worldwide, the sizes specific to each coffee concoction, and more. Moreover, we will explain coffee cup basics, especially the sizes of an espresso cup.
The Espresso Cup
The espresso cup is a very standardized size, especially since it is a very concentrated form of coffee at its core, so it is essential to regulate its cup size.
Because of this, espresso cups come in as one of the smallest (if not the smallest) cup size servings in all of the coffee family. Standing at around one to four liquid ounces, they sure are a small bunch.
Most people do not feel the importance of implementing standard sizes for espresso cups to prevent questions such as “What sizes are espresso cups?” However, I am here to tell you the significance of such a seemingly insignificant standard.
First off, having a standard size for espresso cups reduces confusion among baristas, customers, and basically, almost everyone involved in the coffee industry. The thing is, espresso stands as one of the most essential and prominent bases of all coffee drinks.
For example, coffee beverages such as latte, mocha, and the classic americano use espresso as the base ingredient.
Imagine wanting to make a homemade latte, so the most logical move would be to scour the internet for recipes. If standard espresso cup sizes were not a thing, the instruction “add one shot of espresso” would be too vague to provide any relevance. We can also say the same for cafes.
The implementation of standard espresso cup sizes makes sure that your experience is consistent as a customer and as streamlined as possible as a barista.
When you order a cafe americano with two shots of espresso at Starbucks, the barista knows exactly how much espresso you want. In concurrence, you, the customer, will know immediately how much espresso to expect in your cup.
Moreover, the answer to the question “What size is an espresso cup” is also much more streamlined, allowing for more accessible training for newly hired baristas. I can think of more reasons why standardization is essential, but I think I drew enough to paint the canvas at this point.
Why Upsized Cups Don’t Make Sense: The Reasons For The Small Cup Sizes
As with all things in the coffee industry, everyone must practice intense attention to detail at all times. Everything must be up to standard, from the tamping of the coffee grounds, the brewing time, and even the cup sizes. However, can we not be at least lenient to such trifling matters as those of cup sizes?
The answer again is no. Why is that the case, then? Why must we use those teeny-tiny cups when we can just use larger cups for espresso, and no one will notice.
For this question, I just have one word for you: crema. For those who do not know what crema is, crema is the aromatic, froth-like substance on top of your coffee. For most coffee enthusiasts, the presence of crema indicates the exquisite quality of a cup of espresso.
So how does the cup size affect the crema? Well, think of it like this: when one uses a larger cup or espresso, the thick crema is spread out over a larger area, making the whole crema fall apart.
There are no implications for most of your everyday coffee drinkers, but to the crema-particular, this means a low-quality cup of espresso.
Around The World
Now let us talk about the cup sizes around the world; not about what espresso is but more about the size of the coffee cup itself. What do I mean by this?
A shot of espresso is the base of most coffee drinks, suggesting that these “one to two” liquid ounce shots of espresso are only a part of an even bigger cup– the cup we are currently talking about, not the espresso shot size itself.
It Is Not So Simple, Unfortunately
If you have noticed, we have always talked about the importance of standardization, but unfortunately, these standard sizes are not followed religiously by all cafes around the United States.
This unstandardized standard poses a slippery slope: if the standard sizes for a shot of espresso are not uniform around the United States, what more when talking about the cup sizes around the world?
Most of the time, I would scuff at slippery slope arguments for being very nonsensical, but this one “actually” holds merit. Unfortunately, this means that talking about standard sizes is very hard, especially when our scope is of the worldwide level. Let me explain.
The Imperial System VS The Metric System VS Japan
The imperial measurement system has always been a point of contention around Americans and the rest of the world, and it does not end with kilometers versus miles.
In reality, these unstreamlined measurement standards extend to even coffee cup sizes. Unfortunately, this means that the answer to “What size is an espresso cup?” will be much harder to answer.
So here’s the thing: the imperial measurement system is currently only implemented in America and two other countries: Myanmar and Liberia. This differentiation means that these three countries, including the United States, will have each standard cup of coffee be eight liquid ounces.
Meanwhile, using the metric system, the rest of the world will have a typical cup of coffee at 8.45 fluid ounces. (source)
However, there is another particular case complicating the whole situation further. Japan implements its standard for coffee cups, with each cup of coffee typically having 6.76 liquid ounces. (source)
These are the standard coffee cup sizes around the world:
- United States (8 fluid ounces)
- The Rest Of The World (Except Japan) (8.45 fluid ounces)
- Japan (6.76 fluid ounces)
Are Cappuccino And Espresso Cups The Same?
The question above is excellent– and it serves as our bridging point for our next topic. The reality is that the size of cappuccinos is not equal to the size of espresso cups, as cappuccinos sport larger cups.
Below is a list of all sizes of standard cups of coffee, including what size is an espresso cup.
Size of coffee cups
- Espresso Shot (2 oz)
- Cappuccino (6 oz)
- Latte (8 oz)
- Filter coffee ( 6 oz)
- Iced coffee (12 oz)
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Sizes Of McDonald’s Coffee?
McDonald’s Coffee Cup Sizes
- McCafe Small (12 oz)
- McCafe Medium (16 oz)
- McCafe Large (20 oz)
What Are The Sizes Of Starbucks Coffee?
Starbucks Coffee Cup Sizes
- Starbucks Tall (12 oz)
- Starbucks Grande (16 oz)
- Starbucks Venti (20 oz)
Are Cup Sizes Standard Across The United States?
No, there are no standardized cup sizes across the United States. Although most cafes follow a certain standard, there are currently no governing bodies strictly imposing such standards. If you opt to drink at a new cafe, make sure to ask about their cup sizes if necessary.