What if I told you that your choice of cup can affect the taste of your coffee?

It’s true!

If you’ve been slurping your carefully crafted shot of espresso from any old coffee mug, you’re doing yourself and your espresso a disservice.

Check out our picks for the best espresso cups, guaranteed to have your morning brew tasting its best.

How to Choose the Best Espresso Cups

Believe it or not, there’s a science to choosing the right cup for your espresso. I’m not kidding. Actual scientists have studied it. The size, shape, and even the color or pattern of your mug affect how you perceive the taste of your coffee (1).

So read through this buyer’s guide to find out how to choose the best espresso cups for the tastiest morning brew.

Choosing the best espresso cups

Choose the right material.

Three materials are commonly used for espresso cups: stainless steel, ceramic, and glass. There is also porcelain, which is a type of ceramic made from fine materials for a glassier appearance (2).

Stainless steel is the MOST DURABLE, so it’s a great choice for traveling or if you’re just clumsy before that first hit of caffeine. Because metals are powerful heat conductors, choose a double-walled design. Otherwise you’ll end up burning your fingers and sipping cold espresso. Cheap stainless steel cups sometimes contribute a metallic taste to your drink, so steer clear of bargain-basement options.

Ceramic and porcelain espresso cups are classic, long favored by baristas because they’ll NEVER LEACH any unwanted flavors into your drink (3):

For flavor, ceramic is the best choice. It neither absorbs nor imparts flavors, leaving coffee to taste just as it should.

Besides flavor, ceramic mugs are usually less expensive as fired clays are thermally insulating, and there’s no need for double-walled construction. Of course, ceramics are more fragile than steel, so they’re a better choice for home use.

Glass espresso or latte cups LET YOU SEE YOUR DRINK, which is especially nice if you’re crafting layered milky drinks. Like stainless steel, glass isn’t a great insulator, so we suggest double-walled espresso cups.

We also recommend looking for borosilicate glass, which is most durable, though you’re still going to want to treat glass cups gently. Like ceramics, glass won’t impart any flavor to your drink.

What’s your drink of choice?

Your favorite drink should decide the size of your espresso cup. Obviously, you wouldn’t craft a latte in a 3-ounce demitasse, but there are equally good reasons not to drink your ristretto from a 12-ounce mug.

One reason is headspace, the space between the top of the drink and the rim of the cup:

Headspace is a huge factor in creating room for the aroma to aerate. Headspace is critical because it creates that place for the nose to be involved.

Wine drinkers know all about this. That’s why different styles of wine glass are used for red and white wine.

Since coffee’s flavors are even more complex than wine, it only makes sense for coffee drinkers to follow suit. And manufacturers are delivering many types of coffee cups.

Long story short, match your cup size to your drink.

  • For a single or double espresso, look for a 3 ounce demitasse.
  • For a cortado or flat white, look for a 4 to 6 ounce cup.
  • For a latte or cappuccino, look for an 8 to 12 ounce cup.

Lastly, most espresso cups come in sets of 2 to 8 or more, and you should shop to suit your household. A 2-pack won’t be practical for a thirsty family of four, and an 8-pack doesn’t make sense for a single person who rarely has company.

Suit your style.

Choosing the style of your espresso cups is the fun part! Do you want fun colors to brighten your morning, a look that suits your kitchen decor, or something classic and timeless?

Think about design as well as colors and patterns. Do you want cups with handles? Handles are useful if the exterior of your cup is hot, but only if they’re big enough to use. Handles also mean your cups won’t stack nicely and might take up more cupboard space. If you’re pressed for space, buying a stackable set with a stand is a great space-saving idea.

Cups with included saucers can also be a practical choice, especially if you regularly serve guests. A saucer makes it easy to add a spoon or a bite of biscotti, while also avoiding spills.

Speaking of espresso cups, have you tried cupping coffee like an expert? Watch our video and give it a try:

The 7 Best Espresso Cups in 2020

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“Stainless

Real Deal Stainless Steel Espresso Cups
  • Size(s): 3 oz
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Quantity: 4

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“ComSaf

ComSaf Porcelain Espresso Cups
  • Size(s): 3 oz
  • Material: Porcelain
  • Quantity: 8

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“Sweese

Sweese 405.104 Porcelain Espresso Cups
  • Size(s): 2.5 oz, 4 oz, or 8 oz
  • Material: Porcelain
  • Quantity: 4

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“80ml

Recaps Stainless Steel Espresso Cups
  • Size(s): 2.7 oz or 5.7 oz
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Quantity: 2

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“DeLonghi-Double-Walled-Espresso-Glasses”

Delonghi Thermo Espresso Glasses
  • Size(s): 2 oz, 6 oz, or 7.5 oz
  • Material: Glass
  • Quantity: 2

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“Espresso

Bruntmor Espresso Cups
  • Size(s): 4 oz
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Quantity: 4

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“Fellow

Fellow Monty Milk Art Cups
  • Size(s): 3 oz, 4.5 oz, 6.5 oz, or 11 oz
  • Material: Ceramic with Metal Bottom
  • Quantity: 2

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Here are seven fantastic espresso cups, all of which would make a fine addition to your home espresso bar.

If shopping for espresso glassware has you thinking about upgrading the rest of your espresso setup, we’ve reviewed some great espresso machines to help you pull the perfect shot, whether you want to make espresso with the touch of a button, pull espresso manually, or find options for coffee shops.

I have three criteria for the perfect espresso cups. They’re stylish, durable, and they keep the coffee hot. Unfortunately, most brands only deliver two of the three. Not so these top-rated Real Deal Steel cups! They offer the rare trifecta.

First let’s talk hot coffee.

These 3-oz cups are made from food grade double-walled stainless steel, so the drink stays hot and your hands stay cool.

Durable? The stainless steel is virtually indestructible. You can drop these off the counter, take them on a camping trip, or use them as little cups for your kids. But maybe don’t fill them with espresso in that case…. And the powder-coated finish is just as tough as the stainless steel (4).

The powder-coated finish is where the style comes in. These mugs are available in four colors, blue, black, white, and natural stainless, perfect for any decor. Can’t decide? You can buy a mixed set.

I also love how easy these are to clean, thanks to the mirror stainless interior. On camping trips, I’ve been known to just give them a quick rinse with water. For cleaning at home, they’re dishwasher-safe.

Want something more basic and affordable? This 8-pack of white cups and saucers from ComSaf won’t let you down. No fancy colors or complicated construction here, just a simple, elegant design at a low price.

But low cost doesn’t mean low quality.

These are made from food-safe glazed porcelain, guaranteed lead-free and non-toxic. They’re dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe and can safely venture into your oven and freezer.

Their shape is ideal for fitting under the spout of any espresso machine, and the 3 ounce capacity is perfect for a single or double shot. A handle ensures you can get that espresso in your belly ASAP, even if the cup is hot.

The 8-pack is great for having company, as is the inclusion of saucers, a surprise at this price. You can impress your guests with a cookie on the side and be spared dealing with their clumsy spills.

3. Sweese 405.104 Porcelain Espresso Cups – Best Stackable Set

“Sweese

Specifications

  • Size(s): 2.5 oz, 4 oz, or 8 oz

  • Material: Porcelain
  • Quantity: 4
  • Colors available: Red, Mint Green, Navy, Steel Blue, Turquoise, White
  • Extras: Saucers, Metal Stand

In a cluttered kitchen, a stackable set of espresso cups and saucers is a perfect space-saving option. We love this set from Sweese, one of Amazon’s most popular brands in this space. It’s like four espresso cups in the counter space of one.

Plus, the set comes with a stand so you can easily move them around.

They’re made of thick high-quality porcelain, which keeps your coffee hotter longer and is fairly durable, though I’d avoid dropping them off the counter. The porcelain is dishwasher, microwave, oven, and freezer safe. I love that they’re oven-safe because they can easily double as cute ramekins for baking.

They come in three sizes, for ristretto and latte lovers alike, and in a variety of cheery colors. A brightly colored coffee cup is a nice way to add a hint of fun to a dreary morning, but classic white is also an option, for all you traditionalists out there.

4. Recaps Stainless Steel Espresso Cups – Best Stainless Steel

“80ml

Specifications

  • Size(s): 2.7 oz or 5.7 oz

  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Quantity: 2
  • Colors available: Natural Steel
  • Extras: None

If you’re in the market for simple and affordable stainless steel cups, Recap’s classic design fits the bill. They’re basic, but attention has been paid where it counts.

Their double-walled construction promises to keep your espresso hot and your fingers cool, so there’s no need for handles. No-handles makes them stackable and space-saving, and a great choice to toss in the pack for a camping trip.

For coffee drinkers with other vices, these cups do double duty as liquor vessels. The smaller size makes a fine shot glass, and the larger is perfect for cocktails. The same vacuum layer that keeps your espresso hot will keep your mixed drinks cool, and if you get a little tipsy and drop them, there’s no harm done.

5. Delonghi Thermo Espresso Glasses – Best Double-Walled Glass

“DeLonghi-Double-Walled-Espresso-Glasses”

Specifications

  • Size(s): 2 oz, 6 oz, or 7.5 oz

  • Material: Glass
  • Quantity: 2
  • Colors available: Glass
  • Extras: None

Delonghi is world-renowned for their home espresso machines, so it should come as no surprise that they know their way around an espresso cup.

This set comes with two double-walled espresso cups made of BPA-free borosilicate glass, aka Pyrex (5).

It’s actually the same glass that scientists use for their beakers, because it’s heat-proof, ultra-durable, and totally inert.

If you drink espresso from these, the only thing you’ll taste is espresso.

What really stands out with these cups is their elegant design. Those sleek lines wouldn’t be out of place in some billionaire’s parlor, next to an espresso machine manned by a butler pulling shots of the only finest civet poop coffee.

They’ll definitely add A TOUCH OF CLASS to your kitchen.

One downside to double-wall espresso cups is that they tend to be thick-walled, which is great for heat retention but uncomfortable for drinking. Delonghi solves this by tapering the thickness so that the upper rim is an ideal size. It’s a small detail that will improve your espresso experience.

6. Bruntmor Espresso Cups – Best Ceramic

“Espresso

Specifications

  • Size(s): 4 oz

  • Material: Ceramic
  • Quantity: 4
  • Colors available: White, Black w/ Colored Interior, Multi Colored, Christmas Print
  • Extras: Saucers

Bruntmor’s ceramic espresso cups and saucers are simple, functional, and stylish. They’re made from high-quality porcelain that’s microwave-safe, dishwasher-safe, and oven and freezer proof.

It’s also safe in you, with no lead, no cadmium, no BPA.

The walls of these mugs are nice and hefty, great for keeping your coffee hot and resisting chips and breaks. Knock one off your counter, and there’s a good chance it’ll survive.

The 4-oz capacity is unusual, big for an espresso and small for a cortado or cappuccino. I’ve found they’re perfect for serving espresso-esque coffee like an Aeropress or Moka pot, with just a dash of cream or extra hot water.

7. Fellow Monty Milk Art Cups – Best for Milky Drinks

“Fellow

Specifications

  • Size(s): 3 oz, 4.5 oz, 6.5 oz, or 11 oz

  • Material: Ceramic with Metal Bottom
  • Quantity: 2
  • Colors available: Matte Black, Matte White
  • Extras: None

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of an espresso nerd are you? If you said 11, these are for you.

Fellow, a company staffed exclusively by level-11 espresso nerds, has used the science of fluid dynamics to design the perfect mugs for latte art (6).

They’ve added a hidden parabolic slope to lift the crema to the top as you pour.

It’s like a cheat code for better latte art, and no one needs to know!

Nerdery aside, these are cool espresso cups even if latte art isn’t your thing. The double-wall ceramic construction keeps your coffee hot and your hands cool, so there’s no need for a handle. Each is fitted with a metal bottom so that they can be stacked, which is great for decluttering the counter.

Their sleek design would look at home in a modern art museum. They even chose the metal bottoms for ultimate aesthetic appeal. Matte black with shiny graphite, or matte white with polished copper.

The Verdict

Choosing the right espresso cups comes down to your priorities. It’s all about balancing style, durability, convenience, and heat retention.

For a nice mix of all four, we love Real Deal Steel’s double-walled stainless steel espresso cups. They keep your espresso toasty warm, come in a variety of colors, and are virtually unbreakable.

“Stainless

FAQs

A single espresso is 1 ounce, and a double shot is 2 ounces. This translates to 30 ml for a single shot and 60 ml for a double shot of espresso.

Espresso is served in a small cup because in a larger cup (a) the crema will spread and become too thin, (b) you won’t experience the espresso aroma, and (c) your espresso will cool too quickly.

The difference between demitasse and espresso is that demitasse presents a small cup in which you serve Turkish coffee or espresso. In French, it means “half cup.” So, it’s not an actual drink but a cup for espresso. However, it’s often used to describe the ingredients in a small cup. Hence, the confusion.

The best beans for espresso depends on your taste. We love a smooth dark or medium roast. Check out our article on how to choose the right beans for espresso for some great options.

References

  1. Burgess-Yeo, S. (2018, November 20). How Your Coffee Cup Makes Your Coffee Taste Better — Or Worse. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/11/how-your-coffee-cup-makes-your-coffee-taste-better-or-worse/

  2. Kitchenistic. (2020, March 26). What is the Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain? Retrieved from https://www.kitchenistic.com/porcelain-vs-ceramic/

  3. Driftaway Coffee. (2016, October 16). The effect of coffee cup material on taste: Ceramic vs stainless steel vs plastic. Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/effect-coffee-cup-material-taste-ceramic-vs-stainless-steel-vs-plastic/

  4. What is Powder Coating? (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.powdercoating.org/page/WhatIsPC

  5. What is Borosilicate Glass And Why Is It Better Than Regular Glass? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://shopkablo.com/blogs/the-reformist/what-is-borosilicate-glass

  6. Hadhazy, A. (2017, December 13). Coffee physics: Layering in cafe lattes yields insights for engineering, medicine and environment. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171213120045.htm

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