Exploring the Finest Barista Coffee Cups in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide


A great cup of coffee is more than just a beverage; it's an experience; and to truly savour the flavours and aromas of expertly brewed coffee, and when someone thinks of a barista cup, they often see in their minds eye a cup with beautiful latte art, but to get to that point one must choose the perfect vessel. In the United Kingdom, a thriving coffee culture has given rise to an array of barista coffee cups that cater to every taste and preference. In this article, we delve into the world of coffee cups, exploring the best sizes, the heat-retaining benefits of various materials, and the charm of artisanal pottery creations.

The Ideal Sizes for Barista Coffee Cups:

The size of coffee cups can vary significantly across different coffee shops and brands, and this variance plays a crucial role in shaping customer perception. The choice of cup size communicates important messages to customers, influencing their expectations and overall experience. Smaller cup sizes, such as the traditional 8 or 12-ounce cups, are often associated with a focus on quality, precision, and attention to detail. In my opinion, smaller cup sizes provide much less hiding room and suggest that the coffee shop prioritises flavour and craftsmanship, delivering a concentrated and well-crafted beverage.

On the other hand, larger cup sizes, exceeding 12 ounces, can create a perception of value that a 16 oz grande at Starbucks or the 20 ounce Venti.  These cups imply that the coffee shop aims to provide a satisfying and substantial coffee experience, catering to customers who desire a larger portion or a longer-lasting beverage. These are more milk than coffee and in my opinion are sold to mask the taste of mediocre coffee beans and an uncaring process (not all Starbuck's baristas are uncaring, some are quality baristas).

Ideal Barista Cup Sizes

Here's a breakdown of the barista cup sizes commonly used for the following coffee drinks:


  1. Espresso: Espresso is typically served in small, demitasse cups. These cups have a capacity of around 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 milliliters). The small size allows for the concentrated shot of espresso to be enjoyed without dilution. 
  2. Macchiato: A macchiato is an espresso drink with a small amount of milk or foam added. It is usually served in a small cup similar to an espresso cup, with a capacity of around 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 milliliters). The small size ensures a balanced ratio between the espresso and the milk/foam topping.
  3. Cortado: Cortado is a beverage made with equal parts espresso and steamed milk. It is commonly served in a small glass or cup, typically with a capacity of around 4 to 6 ounces (120-180 milliliters). The slightly larger size compared to espresso cups allows for a balanced combination of espresso and milk. 
  4. Flat White: A flat white consists of espresso shots topped with steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam. It is typically served in a cup with a capacity of around 6 to 8 ounces (180-240 milliliters). The slightly larger size accommodates the espresso shots and allows for a well-balanced ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and velvety microfoam. 
  5. Americano: An Americano is made by adding hot water to a shot or double shot of espresso. It is often served in a larger cup with a capacity of around 8 ounces (240 milliliters). The 8-ounce cup size allows for the addition of water while maintaining a balanced flavour profile and allows for a comfortable drinking experience.
  6. Latte: A latte is a milky coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk, topped with a small layer of foam. It is commonly served in a larger cup, usually with a capacity of around 8 to 12 ounces (240-350 milliliters). The larger size accommodates a higher proportion of milk, allowing for a creamier and more substantial latte experience. 
  7. Cappuccino: A cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foam. It is typically served in a cup with a capacity of around 6 to 8 ounces (180-240 milliliters). The cup's size ensures a balanced ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and frothy foam, resulting in a harmonious flavour and texture combination.


At AM Espresso, we serve on the smaller end of the above ranges, this is in part due to the van only being able to store a certain amount of milk and water on board and that any larger volumes of milk or water

Choosing the right size for your coffee cup is crucial, as it can affect the taste and enjoyment of your brew. You'll often see lattes, flat whites and cappuccinos at your local specialist coffee shop almost brimming over the edge, with nothing but the water tension keeping it from spilling over the edges. There is really no set in stone size for each of the different drinks. But there are some popular sizes that baristas and coffee enthusiasts favour and the size that you'll find in our mobile espresso bar;

Ideal Barista Espresso Cups

These small cups, typically holding 60-90 millilitres (2-3 fluid ounces), are perfect for enjoying a concentrated shot of espresso. Their petite size allows for optimal aroma concentration and easy sipping. The liquid of the espresso is more likely to cool quickly, so factor this into your espresso cup material selection as some materials will retain their heat for longer, if you are after a hot espresso.

Your espresso cups are the first point of call whether you are dialling in some new coffee beans or just using as a receptacle to add to a tall glass for an iced coffee or something. Espresso cups fit under the portafilter and can be stored on top of all but the smallest of espresso machines.

Now there are a few different materials you could buy for your barista espresso cups. of course you could go with the classic ceramic espresso cups, these are the small cups and saucers that you may see, then there is hand-thrown ceramic for the more organic and artisanal vibe.

Growing in popularity of recent years has been double walled borosilicate glass cups which have some thermal property advantages

Our Favourite Barista Espresso Cups

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Hand thrown
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Each of the above barista espresso cups has it's own use cases and depending on the style of your kitchen, different styles will suit. What can definitely be considered is the durability and cost, all of the above espresso cups cost around £15 apart from the hand thrown ceramic espresso cups (our favourite).

Barista Latte Cups

A good latte cup should have a balanced shape, appropriate thickness for heat retention, a comfortable handle, and a smooth interior surface. These elements contribute to both the latte-drinking experience and the creation of appealing latte art.

When someone thinks of barista cups, they almost definitely think of the a cup with a beautiful latte art on top and even though latte art can be made even in a tomato the cup actually has a big impact on the experience of the coffee, whether for your customers or for yourself at home.

Same as the espresso cups, there are a few different materials that you can get, however, with the latte size being around 8 fluid ounces, it limits the types of materials that are comfortable to hold at this size. You would usually find that latte cups are commonly made of ceramic, porcelain, or stoneware. These materials provide good insulation and heat retention properties.

The thickness of the ceramic plays a role in heat retention. Thicker walls such as those found at Starbucks, can help keep your latte hot for a longer time, allowing you to enjoy it at a leisurely pace. On the other hand, cups with thinner walls like the ones found at Nero may enhance the tactile experience, allowing you to feel the warmth of the latte through the cup.

Our Favourite Barista Latte Cups

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Kinto Ceramic
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The Heat Retaining Benefits of Different Materials

The choice of cup material plays a significant role in maintaining the temperature of your coffee. Here are some commonly used materials and their heat-retaining properties

  1. Ceramic Cups: Ceramic cups, often made from porcelain or stoneware, are renowned for their excellent heat retention. They help keep your coffee hot for a more extended period, allowing you to savour each sip. Additionally, ceramic cups provide an enjoyable drinking experience due to their smooth texture and elegant designs. 
  2. Double-Walled Glass Cups: Double-walled glass cups are a popular choice for those who appreciate both aesthetics and functionality. The dual-layered construction provides excellent heat insulation, keeping your coffee hot while keeping the exterior cool to the touch. These cups also offer a visually stunning experience, as the transparent walls showcase the rich colours of your coffee. 
  3. Stainless Steel Cups: Stainless steel cups excel in heat retention and durability. They are an excellent option for those who prioritise longevity and want their coffee to stay hot for extended periods. Stainless steel cups are also resistant to breakage, making them ideal for outdoor use or for those who desire a more robust coffee-drinking experience. 

Exploring Originality: Specialist Pottery Companies:

For coffee aficionados seeking a unique and artisanal touch, specialist pottery companies offer a wide range of handmade coffee cups. These companies often prioritise craftsmanship, using traditional techniques and distinctive materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces. By opting for pottery cups, you not only enjoy the heat-retaining properties but also own a truly original and handcrafted work of art, you're supporting an artisanal and artistic approach and supporting local. Look for local pottery companies and I'm sure you'll find some beautiful hand thrown, home glazed barista quality espresso cups.


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