Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Welcome to our big espresso cup test 2023. Here you will learn everything you need to know before buying an espresso cup.

We present the most important buying criteria so that you can be sure to find the right product. We also present our favourite products and give you the shops where you can find the right product for you. We also answer the most frequently asked questions about espresso cups.

The most important facts

  • Espresso cups differ from conventional coffee cups primarily in their size. Due to the high caffeine content of espresso, it is drunk in small quantities and therefore also from small cups.
  • Espresso cups are available in different materials, which are distinguished by various properties. The most common materials are earthenware, porcelain and glass.
  • Espresso cups should have significantly thicker walls compared to conventional coffee cups. This allows the heat to be stored better and the small amount of liquid does not cool down too quickly.

The Best Espresso Cups: Our Pick

Espresso cups: Buying and evaluation criteria

In the following section, we will present you with the most important aspects that you should definitely consider when making your decision. The criteria that you can use to compare espresso cups with each other include:

In the coming paragraphs, we will show you what you should look for in the individual criteria.


A first decisive feature when choosing the right espresso cup is the size. It should be neither too big nor too small. Espresso cups can be recognised by the fact that they are significantly smaller than coffee cups or tea mugs. This is because espresso is highly concentrated and is therefore drunk in smaller quantities than normal filter coffee.

Espresso has a significantly higher caffeine content than classic filter coffee. Therefore, only small amounts are safe for health.

Since an optimal amount of espresso corresponds to about 40ml of liquid, the espresso cup should have a capacity of about 60 – 80 ml. There are also some slightly larger cups that have a capacity of around 100ml. These are then suitable for a double espresso.


The material of the cup is also very important, as it can influence both the taste and the heat retention. Especially in Italy, the home country of espresso, cups made of earthenware are used. These are usually relatively heavy, but store heat extremely well and are neutral in taste. Porcelain espresso cups are also very common. These are not quite as heavy and stable as the stoneware cups. They therefore store heat less well, but are also neutral in taste.

Slightly newer, on the other hand, are espresso cups made of glass. They are popular because the walls are transparent and you can see the contents at all times. However, many people say that the material makes the taste slightly sour. For a relatively short time, espresso cups made of metal and stainless steel have also been available. Here too, however, the problems are similar to those with glass cups: insufficient heat retention and partial taste distortion.


Nowadays, there are virtually no limits to creativity when it comes to the design of espresso cups. While the cups used to be kept simple and mostly just looked like the material, today many colours and patterns are available. Whether plain colours like white, black or grey or colourful cups in red, green, blue or yellow are now available almost everywhere.

However, the cups do not have to be monochrome. For art fans, for example, there are espresso cups in Art Nouveau style or in the design of Hundertwasser. And some football fans also get their money’s worth. Because in selected shops you can also get espresso cups from clubs like FC Bayern or Juventus Turin.

Wall thickness

In addition to the material, the wall thickness of the cup is a decisive factor for its thermal properties. Especially cups made of glass or porcelain often have thinner walls. This means that the heat is not stored as long.

The thicker the cup wall, the better the heat of the beverage can be stored.

In addition, handles are definitely recommended for cups with thin walls, as the cups are often very hot directly after filling and cannot be touched directly on the wall. Thick-walled cups can keep the espresso warm for a very long time, so you can take more time drinking and enjoying the espresso. In addition, you can do without a handle because you can easily hold the cup against the wall.

Espresso cups: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we would like to answer the most frequently asked questions about espresso cups in detail. In addition to the most important basics, we will also answer where you can get espresso cups and what kind of price you should expect.

What is an espresso cup?

Espresso cups are relatively small, usually thick-walled cups. As the name suggests, they are mainly used for serving espresso.


Espresso originally comes from Italy and is usually served there with a glass of water. (Image source: William Moreland / unsplash)

Since espresso is served and drunk in much smaller quantities than conventional coffee, espresso cups have a much thicker base and walls. This significantly increases the insulating capacity of the cups.

What types of espresso cups are there?

Espresso cups can be distinguished from one another primarily by two characteristics. The first is the material. However, we will deal with this topic in another section. The second distinguishing feature, on the other hand, is whether the cup has a handle or not. Both variants have certain advantages and disadvantages, which we will present to you here.

Espresso cups with a handle

Espresso cups with a handle are distinguished from those without a handle primarily by the fact that they can be touched even at high temperatures. While the hot espresso often heats up the entire cup, especially in thin-walled cups, the handle always remains at a pleasant temperature. In addition, a handle provides a fundamentally better grip. This means that it is impossible for the cup to slip out of your hand and spill something.

  • secure grip
  • no risk of burns even in extreme heat
  • susceptible to damage if dropped
  • takes up more space when stored

However, the handle cups have disadvantages in terms of storage and susceptibility to damage. Because of the handle, the cups often cannot be stored so neatly. In addition, the handle can break off very quickly if, for example, the cup is dropped while washing up.

Espresso cups without handles

The advantages and disadvantages of cups with handles can basically be turned around for cups without handles. The espresso cups without handles can often be stacked inside each other and can thus also be stored in cupboards and shelves where there is not much space left. In addition, the cups are much more stable and robust against possible drop damage.

  • very space-saving
  • very robust against damage
  • tends to slip out of the hand
  • risk of burns at high temperatures

The lack of a handle means that there is a risk of burning oneself on the cup. Especially if the cup is accidentally preheated too much in the microwave, this can lead to unpleasant injuries.

How much does an espresso cup cost?

How expensive the espresso cup is depends on a variety of factors. These include, among others:

  • Material
  • Quality
  • Brand / Manufacturer
  • Design
  • Single piece / set

Many well-known brands offer their espresso cups as individual pieces, in contrast to their lesser-known competitors. These are then often available from around 10 €. However, a few no-name individual pieces are also available for less than 5 €. The sky’s the limit when it comes to having a unique piece made. Prices of over 100 € are also possible. However, many suppliers do not offer their espresso cups individually, but only in sets of different sizes. These sets usually include 4, 6 or 12 cups. In addition, there are sometimes coasters and in some cases even a holder for the cups. Such sets are often available for between 20 and 35 € in shops or on the internet.

What alternatives are there to an espresso cup?

First of all, it should be mentioned directly that there is no real alternative if you only want to enjoy espresso. However, if you like to drink conventional coffee or milk-based coffee drinks such as latte macchiato in addition to espresso, then we present the two most popular alternatives here.

Alternative features
Coffee cup larger capacity, rather thin-walled, available in many different shapes and designs
Latte macchiato glass largest capacity, different layers of the drink visible from the outside, poorest thermal insulation

Of course, you can also pour an espresso into a coffee cup or drink a coffee from a latte macchiato. However, each time you do this, something of the special pleasure is lost.

For every coffee-based beverage, there is a suitable vessel that brings out the full flavour of the drink.

So, if you drink frequently, you should have the right container for the corresponding drink in stock.

How do I store an espresso cup correctly?

Basically, you can simply place your espresso cup on a shelf or in a cupboard after thoroughly washing and drying it.
Cylindrical cups are best stacked inside each other.

Espresso cups without handles in particular can often even be stacked inside each other, so that they can be stored in a very space-saving way. However, there are also special holders in which you can safely store your espresso cups. These are often already included in the espresso cup set. Otherwise, they are usually available where you can get the espresso cups yourself.

Why does the espresso cup have to have a thick wall?

You can usually recognise high-quality espresso cups by the fact that they have fairly thick walls. Apart from the size, this is the most important difference to classic coffee cups. The thick walls are useful because they allow the heat of the beverage to be stored better. If the walls were too thin, the drink would cool down considerably after a very short time, thus reducing the enjoyment.


The thick walls of espresso cups help to better store the heat of the beverage. (Image source: Matt Hoffman / unsplash)

Normal coffee cups do not necessarily need these thick walls, as coffee can be consumed in larger quantities and the larger volume of liquid does not cool down as quickly on its own.

What is the capacity of espresso cups?

As already mentioned, espresso cups differ from coffee cups in that they are significantly smaller. Espresso cups, which are designed for a simple espresso, usually have a capacity of around 60 ml. This means that the ideal filling quantity of 40 ml fits in without any problems. But cups with a capacity of 80 ml are also very common. Such cups are not large enough for a double espresso, but there is still a little more space. If the cups are also to be used for a double espresso, then a capacity of around 100 ml is recommended. The approx. 80 ml of liquid will fit in there without overflowing too quickly.

What temperature should the espresso cup be at before filling?

To ensure that the espresso can remain at a pleasant temperature for as long as possible, it is a good idea to preheat the espresso cups before filling them. A temperature of around 50 to 60 degrees Celsius is recommended. This range is a good solution that neither cools the beverage down too much nor poses a risk of burning.


Regardless of the material of your espresso cup, you should preheat it before filling it. (Image source: Nathan Mullet / unsplash)

If the cup is too cold, the espresso will not stay warm for long and can quickly turn sour. If the cup is too hot, on the other hand, you can get painful and dangerous burns on your hand and mouth. In addition, the crema of the espresso forms a dark rim on the inside of the cup.


Now that you have read through this article, you should know all the necessary information about espresso cups. For one thing, you should know what to look for before buying a new cup. This way, you can be sure to find the right product for you.

In addition, your most urgent questions for the time after the purchase should be answered. This way, you should be able to ensure maximum enjoyment when drinking espresso at any time in the future.

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