Coffee Cup vs Coffee Mug: Which Is Best Suited For You?

The Best Answer:

Choosing between a coffee cup or a coffee mug depends a lot on what type of coffee you’re drinking. However, there are features both need to have so your coffee tastes amazing every single time.

Cup or mug? Are you wondering if this is an important question to ask yourself? Well, let me assure you that it is!

Choosing which one is best to enjoy your morning coffee is really a matter of taste and it depends on what type of coffee drink you enjoy as soon as you wake up. Some coffee drinks are best out of a mug, some out of a cup, and some you can enjoy in both.

However, what is sometimes more important is the quality of both the cups and the mugs you drink your coffee out of. And that’s because if the quality is good, it truly adds to the coffee drinking experience.

But before we get there, let’s first figure out what the difference between a cup and a mug is.

What Is A Cup?

Most coffee shops worldwide use cups to serve hot beverages such as tea, coffee, or cocoa.

The cup is usually differentiated according to size, material, shape, and presentation; it is often also about personal taste and the type of hot drink served. Usually, it consists of ceramic or porcelain and is complemented with a saucer.

Teacups are often flatter and thinner-walled than classic coffee cups. One of the reasons for this is that tea is often poured in at intervals while coffee is served immediately and is supposed to stay warm longer.

When cooking and baking, you come across many recipes that use cups as a form of measurement. That’s because they are an easy solution to measure liquids, flour, or sugar.

But remember, a cup is usually equivalent to 125 – 250 ml depending on where you are in the world. So check the size of your cup before you go and add too much sugar to your favorite cake!

What’s more, the size of cups can vary, especially in coffee shops that use different sizes to serve various types of coffee drinks. It wouldn’t make sense to serve espresso in the same cup they’d serve a latte now, would it?

What Is A Mug?

The coffee mug is usually a cylindrical or cone-shaped drinking vessel with or without a handle. It usually has a capacity of 250 ml or more. Larger mugs are often referred to as “coffee pots”, especially in gastronomy.

In the course of the last few years, there have been more and more mugs of various shapes that are thick-walled, which means that hot drinks can be kept warm for a particularly long time.

There is actually a large selection of reusable mugs on the market and that’s because of their large capacity. It’s indeed much easier to find a reusable mug rather than a reusable cup.

Coffee Cup vs Coffee Mug: The Differences

Well, there are two pretty obvious differences between cups and mugs:

  • The size
  • The shape

The material on the other hand isn’t always different as they can both be ceramic for example. Their size and shape however are what makes them truly different from one another.

Indeed, there are some coffee drinks I would rather drink in a mug and others that I would absolutely prefer to enjoy in a cup. Let’s have a look at these drinks and find out why, so whichever one you prefer to enjoy in the morning you’ll know if it’s best suited for a cup or a mug!

Coffee Drinks Best Suited For A Coffee Cup


Ideally, a good espresso is 30 ml of coffee, including the crema. The thick-walled espresso cups in which it is served usually have a capacity of 40 ml. A very popular variant is also the so-called double espresso (espresso doppio), which contains twice the amount, i.e. 60 ml.

Now just imagine how funny it would look if you drink your espresso out of a 250ml mug! Jokes aside though, it’s not just about how it looks. Special espresso cups can be found almost in every coffee shop because their shape and size compliment the flavor and aroma of a good quality espresso.


This coffee originated in Spain and is the definition of balance between coffee and milk! It usually contains a double shot of espresso topped with the same amount of steamed milk. This makes for about 120 ml in liquid. This is why coffee shops usually serve it in a 150 ml cup.


This is an Italian man’s idea of espresso with just a drop of milk. Today, most coffee shops define a macchiato as double espresso with a layer of milk foam on top.

The name itself means “stained” as it looks like there is a small milk stain on the coffee.

It has the same size as a double espresso and is, therefore, best enjoyed in an espresso cup.


This type of coffee is also known as Turkish mocha and is usually served in small demitasse or espresso cups as it’s very small in size, only about 50 ml.

Coffee drinks best suited for a coffee mug

Filter coffee

There is nothing more satisfying than holding a mug of freshly brewed filter coffee during winter mornings! It’s not surprising that such coffee is called “hug in a mug”. Filter coffee, be it pour-over, batch brew, french press, or anything else you like, is a mug’s true best friend!


The americano is a brilliant alternative for lovers of black coffee! It’s basically a shot or two of espresso diluted with hot water. Many people prefer this drink as opposed to filtering coffee, as it often tastes more intense.

You can actually dilute the espresso with as much water as you prefer but the standard version would be around 250 ml and that’s why I’d suggest drinking it out of a mug.

Coffee Drinks You Can Enjoy In Both


You should never order a “latte” in Italy, instead, ask for a “caffè latte” otherwise they’ll just hand you a cup of milk! Indeed, “latte” is the Italian word for milk and that’s the main ingredient for the world-famous coffee drink that it gave its name to.

The latte usually contains a single or double shot of espresso, topped with a lot of steamed milk. Many people also enjoy adding different syrups to their lattes for a sweeter flavor! It’s usually somewhere between 200-250 ml so either a large cup or a standard mug will do!


This drink couldn’t possibly be missing from this list. Similar to a latte, but with a lot more milk foam on top, the cappuccino can be enjoyed from a cup in a coffee shop or a mug in the comfort of your sofa!


Who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate, coffee, and milk? Everybody does, this is why the mocha was invented!

The mocha is a mix of espresso, steamed milk and chocolate powder, and steamed milk, sometimes topped with chocolate shavings or cream. Many coffee shops serve the mocha in latte cups but if you are at home you can simply use your favorite mug. It’s usually between 200 and 250 ml.

Flat white

There is still an ongoing debate about whether this drink originated in New Zealand or Australia! The flat white is basically a single or a double shot of espresso, topped with steamed milk and a layer of microfoam.

Depending on where you are in the world the flat white will be between 180 and 240 ml. So there is nothing really stopping you from enjoying the flat white either in a large cup or in a small mug.

Important Features of Coffee Cups And Mugs

It’s true that mugs and cups have a few differences and both complement various coffees in many ways but there are some features that are important for both.

Such features include:

  • Durability
  • Ability to trap heat
  • Microwave and dishwasher safe
  • Low water absorption rate
  • Ergonomic design

Now you’re probably wondering why all this is important and I definitely don’t blame you.

But let’s break it down for a second!

Durability is essential because you don’t want your cup or mug to break after the smallest bump on the counter or drop in the sink. Plus if it has ultra-thick walls it won’t just be durable, it will also be able to trap the heat of your coffee, thus helping you enjoy it for as long as you please.

What’s more, both you and coffee shop owners need their cups and mugs to be microwave/dishwasher safe and to have a low water absorption rate. That way the constant washing won’t wear the material down and the low water absorption rate will ensure no stains from leftover food.

As for the ergonomic design, that is particularly important as more often than not many cups and mugs can feel heavy and uncomfortable to hold for too long. However, an ergonomic design will feature a handle that provides the perfect balance on your hand even when the cup is full.

So, as you can see, these features might seem pedantic when deciding on the perfect cup or mug but they are actually very important!

Last Thoughts

You were definitely right to wonder if there is a difference between a cup and a mug and which one is best suited for your morning coffee.

Whether you are someone who enjoys the same type of coffee in the morning or you alternate according to your mood, I would advise you to pay more attention to the quality of the cups or mugs you are planning to buy because it will definitely make a difference in the quality of your coffee!

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