Tea is almost always served in the same size cup regardless of when or where it’s served. There are millions and maybe even billions of choices for fanciful tea cups to choose from. In different shapes, colors and even slight variations in size. But for the most part, tea cups hold about 8 ounces of tea.
That’s not the case with coffee however. A coffee mug can hold from 10 to 12 ounces and will be about 4 inches in height by 3 inches in diameter. A traditional coffee cup can hold about 6 to 7 ounces and is about 2 ½ inches in height by 3 inches in diameter. The demitasse cup (a small cup) can contain 3 to 4 ounces of coffee and measures about 2 3/8 inches in height by 2 ½ inches. The pictured to the right is a Turkish demitasse cup.
Coffee is served from early morning to evening. The cup size used is determined by what time of the day the coffee is served. And the size of the cup should also determine the strength of the brew.
Morning – Mid-Day:
Coffee with a light body, high caffeine content and brisk taste, is referred to as a ‘wake me up’. Basically it’s a stimulant and therefore, it’s served at breakfast and lunch in a coffee mug. Stoneware mugs are best, as they help the coffee hold its heat. Of course in our modern world, large “cups” come in paper and are vastly different depending on which “fast-coffee” shop you buy your morning wake up brew from.
Afternoon – Dinner:
It has long been noted that Coffee assists with digestion. Because of this, it’s often served after heavy meals, such as after dinner. A coffee with a low caffeine content, heavy body and strong taste, is perfect for this time of day. And because dinner is thought of as a formal event, the cups are smaller. Or what we’d consider as regular size, similar to tea cups. In this case your fine china cups are perfect for the afternoon and dinner setting.
The later in the day, the smaller the cup sizes become. Smaller cups are used in the evening to minimize the stimulant effect on the body. Late evening coffee is almost always served in tiny cups much like the one pictured above.
Demitasse cups are typically cups with no handles. The cups are often placed in some form of decorative cup holder, most often metal. This decorative cup holder is called a Zarf like the one pictured to the right.
While today’s world focuses on the instant throw-away perspective, we can still maintain a proper etiquette by following these general rules and traditions for serving size. Sometimes it’s important to keep the customs of the past to remind ourselves we’re worth the little extra effort they may require.