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Last Updated: 22nd April 2021

10 Best Espresso Cups For True Coffee Lovers (2021)

By Helen Cartwright
By Helen Cartwright
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    An espresso cup, or a demitasse if you like to use the technical terminology when it comes to your coffee, is a mug for smaller servings of coffee.

    Demitasse is the French word for ‘half-cup’, which explains their size. Serving an espresso shot in a suitably sized cup helps improve taste, retain heat, and also looks a little bit fancier. You can also buy cups for doppio espressos or double shots.

    There is a fine science behind the perfect espresso cup, so we have searched the internet to find you the best espresso cups around and reviewed them so you know why they’ve made the cut.

    Our Top Picks

    The Best Espresso Cups

    Espresso Cup Buying Guide

    Number Of Cups

    Espresso cups are available in a number of set sizes, from one lone demitasse to a set of six or more. The most common variations are two and six, which is a good balance between not having too many or just having enough.

    Saucers

    Do the best espresso cups come with saucers? Not really. These can be good if you will be serving espresso to guests, or will want somewhere to rest the cup as you sip it slowly.

    In cafes and coffee shops, the saucer will usually hold a spoon for stirring and a biscuit or sugar cube.

    Material

    The two most common materials for espresso cups are glass and ceramic/porcelain.

    The latter is often the best, as it retains heat better, spreads the heat throughout the cup and is also easier to pre-warm so your coffee is being poured into the right temperature for better taste and longevity. Anything else can also cause the espresso to go flat quicker.

    But there is no doubt that glass is eye-catching, allowing you to show off your espresso skills, hence what makes it so popular. It is also easier to match existing decor and coffee machines. Glass is good as long as it is double-walled, which will hold the heat a lot better and also protect your fingers when you lift to drink it. It will also save the glass from being cracked.

    Steel mugs are also available, but they are the worst for insulation and can impart a metallic taste upon the coffee. On a positive note, they can be hardy and unbreakable but are generally not a popular choice.

    Avoid paper, plastic and styrofoam cups, because not only are they disposable or not great for the environment, but their heat retention is poor and they can get too warm to hold. Cheap metal cups should also be avoided because they may be hard to clean and could rust or tarnish with the liquid and heat.

    Shape

    You want something which hugs the espresso, which doesn’t just encourage the production of crema but also keeps the drink warmer for longer.

    Cups which taper at the bottom allow the crema to float to the top where there is more space. But rounded base cups give you an easy time when trying to get every last valuable swig out of the cup.

    There are shapes out there which are a bit different, such as square, but these are not recommended because they add nothing to the espresso experience and if anything can damage the taste.

    Rim

    We will forgive you for not thinking about how thick your espresso cup is, but it can be important. The best espresso cups are usually thicker.

    Thicker cups not only retain heat better but espresso experts say that a thicker, rounded rim allows their lips to sit more comfortably on the cup, which makes it easier to drink.

    Colour

    Down to personal preference mostly. You may want something which matches a current cutlery or dinner set, something which matches your decor or indeed simply looks good sat under your coffee machine.

    But many coffee experts will say that the inside of your demitasse must be white. This boosts the look of the espresso, as you can really view the caramel crema when looking into the cup. White cups and mugs can also show the strength of the coffee better.

    Handle

    Some espresso cups have one, and others don’t. Given the size of the demitasse, the design of the handle can be hard.

    Those which do have one can encourage the user to pick them up this way, but the shape and ease can be important. Anything too small to fit a finger through and it is fiddly. Anything too round and it can be hard to hold. If it is too thin, it can break easily or just feel flimsy, or easily be dropped.

    This is why some just leave it off, but this means you have to ensure the material doesn’t get too hot to hold. Again, it can be down to personal choice. We will say that the larger the demitasse is, the more likely that a handle is needed.

    Dimensions

    Using an electric espresso coffee machine? Check that your chosen cup will fit into the space and on the platform to safely pour the drink into.

    Just because two espresso cups are the same capacity doesn’t mean they’re the same height or width. As you will read below, a cup shouldn’t be too large in circumference…

    FAQs

    How Large Is An Espresso Cup?

    An espresso should technically be around 1oz, which is just over 30ml. A double will be around 60ml or 2oz. You should ideally leave a bit of space at the top of the cup for easier drinking, so the cup should be able to hold more than you’re drinking.

    An espresso cup can vary in capacity, but the ideal size is somewhere between 2oz and 3oz (90ml). The most popular sizes are 80ml and 100ml. Of course, if you drink a doppio espresso (double shot), opt for a cup which is 3.5-4oz large (103ml to 120ml).

    Some machines can vary with the volume of coffee they put out. If you have a dedicated espresso machine it will probably be pretty bang-on, but multi-coffee machines can give you more. Check before you buy.

    Why Are Espresso Cups So Small?

    Simply because espresso is a small serve. Technically, there is nothing to stop you having an espresso in an ordinary mug. However, a smaller cup helps with the overall taste and serving.

    An espresso should have a layer of crema on the top, too. If an espresso mug is too large, this crema will spread out more which in turn means it will disappear faster.

    Larger cups also have more surface area which means the espresso will get colder quicker.

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