You’d never put a vintage Dom Perignon in a cheap plastic cup, would you? Although a little more forgiving, the same can be said of espresso, the purest form of the coffee bean. In fact, only the best espresso cups should hold the very essence of the bean.
Bubbly served in a champagne flute usually, comes after a great achievement. The same great success for you was most likely investing in a premium espresso machine and a quality coffee grinder. Finally, all you need now is a vessel worthy of this achievement and for the delicious golden brown brew that you’ll be making.
However, there is considerable uncertainty in both the best espresso cup options and the need for them. First of all, is it necessary for espresso to have its very own cup, and if yes, which one?
Therefore, we’ve reviewed for you five of the best espresso cups so you can find the perfect one that displays your taste and sophistication. Also, you’ll find in this article a guide to help you understand what makes a great espresso cup.
Before that, though, let’s take a brief look at the top five chosen espresso cups.
|Konitz Coffee Bar Espresso Cups and Saucers
DeLonghi Double-Walled Thermo Espresso Glasses
Harold Stackable Porcelain Espresso Demi Cup and Saucer Set
Bormioli Rocco Oslo Espresso Cup With Stainless Steel Handle
Zurich Double Wall Stainless Steel Espresso Cups
A Guide On Espresso Cups
Before Starbucks and Third Wave Coffee conquered the world, espresso started humbly, yet exquisitely in a small kitchen in Italy. Furthermore, the earliest but crude form of espresso machine came in 1884.
Like many other things, espresso was born out of necessity. Coffee lovers wanted a quicker alternative to brewing their beans. Hence the name “Espresso,” meaning “fast” in Italian. As a result, a type of coffee culture was born as espresso bars grew in number and became the vogue for socializing. Then came cappuccino, lattes and so forth. The rest is history.
Does it matter what cup I use?
Have you had lukewarm coffee? Yes, it’s bad. Lukewarm espresso maybe even more so.
You’d want your drink hot and to stay that way for as long as possible. This control was one of the factors behind the invention of the porcelain cup. The dense ceramic would insulate tea or coffee, keeping it warm for much longer, as well as protecting your hands from the heat.
However, in the early days, a standard coffee cup was around 120 ml (4oz). The container’s size was not suitable for espresso, which when extracted would usually yield an average of 70ml (2.4oz). Espresso would then lose heat much quicker as a result of serving it in a standard coffee cup.
Consequently, the half-cup is ideal for both espresso and strong ground coffee. A half-cup or “demitasse” in French. Specifically, a demitasse is approximately 60 – 90ml (2-3 oz.)
Form and Function
The classic white porcelain espresso cup is an ingenious design combining beauty and practicality.
First of all, the unembellished white ceramic provides a beautiful contrast the golden brown of the espresso. Although new espresso cups come in a variety of designs, most manufacturers keep them simple, yet elegant.
Second, the dense ceramic insulates the espresso, keeping it warm. Additionally, the design of the cup allows it to withstand sudden changes in temperature.
For instance, a shot of espresso is around 70C to 73C (160-165F), a good espresso cup should be able to handle this heat but also keep from breaking when washed with cold water.
Which Cup Is Perfect For You
At any rate, there is a myriad of different designs and materials available on the market. As you decide on the best espresso cups, carefully consider their size, material and construction, aesthetics, and of course, their size.
Let’s go through these factors one at a time.
When a barista gives you a single shot of espresso, it’ll be around 1oz. Meanwhile, a double would be around 2oz. Incidentally, double shots are the most popular espresso serving and are what you would usually get at coffee shops.
Moreover, a triple shot is 3oz, and finally, a 4oz espresso is called a quad.
Hence, various espresso cup sizes are available depending on how you prefer your espresso. For example, if you like espresso on its own, then a standard sized espresso cup would be adequate. However, if you frequently have espresso in cappuccino or a latte, then a bigger cup would be better.
Material and Construction
One of the most important factors to consider is the material of your espresso cup and its construction. The material, for instance, should never impart any undesirable tastes or smells. Apparently, unwanted flavors were quite the predicament when metal cups, like copper, were used for coffee.
Most Common Materials
The plain white porcelain cup is classic, timeless, and suitable for any occasion.
- Smooth Texture
- Porcelain is germ-resistant
2. Tempered Glass
Tempered or borosilicate glass has become the range for espresso as it beautifully displays the hazelnut color of espresso and its crema.
- Free from any unwanted tastes
- Appealing aesthetics
- Not as fragile as porcelain but still breakable
Versatile and robust, stoneware cups are often the cup of choice for many homes.
- The best at insulating drinks
- Feels solid in your hand
- Prone to chipping
- May be heavy for some
Modern steel cups are the preferred container for its portability and durability.
- Won’t shatter, break or chip
- Light and perfect for traveling
- Keeps drink warm
- Some products may become too hot to touch
- May impart metallic taste to drink
As we’ve already covered, lukewarm espresso is just yuck, and cold, even more so. It is for this reason that the best espresso cups are thick and usually heavier than others. Thicker material will insulate the espresso and keep it hot longer.
Otherwise, an espresso cup made of thin material will let the warm espresso cool off very quickly.
Incidentally, did you know that the concave bottom of most cups and mugs also helps in insulation? The curved design reduces the surface area of the cup that is in contact with a table or counter. Hence, your drink cools or warms slower.
An espresso cup is of course not meant to bounce or survive high drops (although a steel cup would fare well here). However, it should be durable enough to resist typical wear and tear without chipping or breaking.
Single vs. Double Walled Cups
There’s no contest here. By and large, a double-walled cup is better as its thickness will provide better temperature insulation. Firstly, it will keep the drink hot or cold for a much longer time. At the same time, it keeps your hands from getting burned from a hot drink.
It seems like the only advantage of a single walled cup is its lower price.
Why buy a single expensive espresso cup if you can get an affordable but durable set? On the other hand, if you’re only in the market for a single espresso mug or two, then investing in a premium product would be best.
Care and Cleaning
Many of us drink coffee at least twice a day. Therefore, an espresso cup that is easy to clean, or even dishwasher- safe will save you a lot of time. Additionally, this will allow you to maintain your espresso cup in pristine condition.
Now that we’re properly armed, so to speak, on what makes a great espresso cup, let’s get into our reviews of the five best espresso cups!
The Best Espresso Cups
1. Konitz Coffee Bar Espresso Cups and Saucers
- Set of 4
- Each cup holds 2oz
- Solid construction
- Very durable
- Microwave and dishwasher-safe
- Includes saucers
- The cups might be too small for some
The cups from Konitz are simple classics that are perfect for any occasion. Pulling a double shot of espresso for each cup is a breeze. Purists who love espresso as is will enjoy these cups.
2. DeLonghi Double-Walled Thermo Espresso Glasses
- Set of 2
- Double-walled glass
- Each cup holds 2oz
- Thick body keeps finger safe from heat
- Keeps espresso hot longer than most cups
- Also great with cold drinks
- Dishwasher safePerfect
- for hosting
- Glass walls are not vacuum sealed so water may leak into walls when one side breaks.
The DeLonghi glass cups display espresso and its crema it all its glory. Its double-walled construction adds not only beauty but also keeps the espresso’s temperature while you make your cappuccino or latte in bigger cups.
3. Harold Stackable Porcelain Espresso Demi Cup and Saucer Set
- Set of 9 – 4 cups, 4 saucers, and 1 rack
- Stackable porcelain cups
- Each cup holds 4oz
- Great space-saver
- Dishwasher-safeIdeal for cappuccinos and other espresso-based drinks
- Handle might be too small for some
- Drinks got colder or warmer relatively faster than with other cups on this list.
If you’re less the espresso fan and more of a cappuccino or Americano drinker, the space-saving Harold espresso cups would fit you best! Additionally, the nine-piece set is ideal for big families or many guests.
4. Bormioi Rocco Oslo Espresso Cup With Stainless Steel Handle
- Set of 4
- Tempered glass
- Stainless steel handle and base, detachable
- Each cup holds 3.5oz
- Tempered glass is very durable
- Microwave safe
- Steel handle does not get too hot
- Stainless steel handle detaches for easy cleaning and are dishwasher-safe
- Not immune to impacts or high drops
- Steel handle may bend over time
If you’d like a distinct espresso cup that’s perfect for both hot and iced drinks, the cups from Bormioli Rocco Oslo will be very satisfying. Moreover, mixing espresso with milk will be a joy to observe through the glass.
5. Zurich Double Wall Stainless Steel Espresso Cups
- Set of 2
- Double-walled stainless steel
- Each cup holds 5.5oz
- Thick and sturdy construction
- Thermal insulation keeps hands from getting burned
- Sleek and sophisticated aestheticsVery durable and sturdy
- Doesn’t impart metallic tasteIdeal for larger shots of espresso
- Expensive for a set of 2
- Non-dishwasher safe
When I mentioned investing in a premium product if you’re only looking for one or two mugs, I was referring to the Zurich Espresso cups. They’re incredibly durable and will last you a long time. Just remember that It’s not dishwasher safe!
Raise Your Cups
There you go, the five best espresso cups for your perfect brew! Don’t tolerate a rich espresso in a plastic or paper cup. Let it shine in a vessel that suits it exquisitely.
Our favorite, however, would be the double-walled glass espresso cups from Delonghi! It’s combination of the durable design, sleek modern look, and its ability to keep espresso hot makes it our top pick!
Whichever cup you choose, they’ll be an awesome complement to your espresso machine! You can also try a mug with temperature control so you can enjoy espresso for a long period of time.
Do you think we’ve left at a superb espresso cup? Or do you prefer ornate demitasse cups? Let us know in the comments below!