The drinkware you use for your caffeinated beverage does matter.
This guide’s goal is to expand your knowledge of the different types of coffee mugs and cups.
Learning about the various options in materials and designs, and choosing the ones that match your taste and needs best, will let you enjoy your morning ritual even more. Additionally, you’ll get great gift ideas.
In this post, we’ll go over the classic coffee shop cups, find out their names, and learn what drinks they’re used for.
You’ll also discover unique mugs with intriguing handle styles, and double-walled hot drink glasses with modern designs.
From eco-friendly reusable to-go cups, to thermal mugs, and expensive Chinese drinkware – here you’ll find all.
We can sort the different types of coffee mugs and cups, based on various criteria:
- their material;
- the coffee drinks they’re used for;
- their additional functions and characteristics, based on the context of use and the ultimate purpose of the consumer.
- Ceramic. This is a general term that is used to describe objects that are made of hardened clay that has been heated to a very high temperature.
Ceramic is the most popular material for coffee mugs and cups since it has low thermal conductivity. In other words, it will keep your coffee drink hot for longer.
Depending on the temperature at which clay is heated, there are different types of ceramic.
The most common types that are used for the manufacturing of coffee cups and mugs are:
- Earthenware. It’s the least expensive and least durable type of ceramic.
It’s heated to lower temperatures and it’s more porous.
- Stoneware. It’s more dense, durable, and expensive than earthenware. It’s heated to a higher temperature and often has a sandy and textural finish.
- Porcelain. It’s the sturdiest type of ceramic that is fired at the highest temperatures. It has a glassy finish and it’s more expensive than both stoneware and earthware.
Porcelain is also lighter and looks quite elegant, especially when used for manufacturing of a cup with a beautiful design and outstanding decoration.
- Bone China is an expensive type of porcelain that is made with bone ash.
It’s a sturdy and dense, yet light and glossy material that is virtually chip-proof.
Ceramic mugs are usually microwaveable and dishwasher-safe. Nevertheless, you should always check your coffee cup’s label. Sometimes, because of the decorative ornaments, paintings and the material of handle, you should only hand-wash and never heat them in a microwave.
- Earthenware. It’s the least expensive and least durable type of ceramic.
- Glass. Many stylish coffee cups are made of heat-resistant glass. The disadvantage to using this material for drinkware is the fact that it doesn’t hold heat as well as ceramic.
That’s why you’ll often come across double-wall insulated coffee cups that are better at keeping your drink at the desired temperature for longer.
Glass coffee cups and mugs are usually microwaveable and dishwasher safe.
- Stainless steel. It’s virtually unbreakable and it’s great at heat retention. Nevertheless, you can’t throw stainless steel mugs in the microwave and you should wash them by hand.
- Plastic. Plastic cups and mugs are usually made of polypropylene or melamine. The former is microwave-safe while the latter isn’t.
Plastic coffee cups are shatter-resistant but aren’t the best option if you’re trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.
The good news is that you can throw them in the dishwasher.
Click here to check out the plastic cups from the photo above on Amazon.
Of course, there are other materials that we’ll explore while going over the different sorts of mugs and cups.
Some of the said materials, such as bamboo or rice husk, are considered eco-friendly substitutes for plastic.
What are the Kinds of Coffee Mugs and Cups?
1. Espresso (Demitasse) cup
The classic espresso cup is a small 2 oz. to 3 oz. (60 ml. to 90 ml.) cup and is made of ceramic or porcelain.
It’s also known by the name demitasse cup, which means “half-cup”.
The demitasse is used to serve concentrated coffee drinks: espresso, ristretto, lungo, Turkish coffee, and espresso macchiato.
Related post: Ristretto vs. Espresso vs. Lungo: Comparison
When it comes to materials, there is a large variety of espresso cups.
Apart from the classic ceramic and porcelain, you can come across beautiful bone china demitasse cups, as well as stainless steel insulated espresso cups that are virtually shatter-proof.
Click here to check out the stainless steel espresso cups from the picture above on Amazon.
And here’s a lovely bone china 4-piece espresso cup set with saucers:
Click here to check it out on Amazon.
I’m a fan of the modern-looking double-wall insulated demitasse cups.
Click here to check out the price of the espresso cups from the photo abouve on Amazon.
You can find them in different designs – with and without handles and unusual shapes.
Click here to check out the V-shaped espresso glasses on Amazon.
Turkish coffee demitasse cups are usually made of porcelain. They are often decorated with unique oriental ornaments. The small demitasse cup on the photo below is a great example:
You can check out its price on Amazon here.
2. Latte cup
Another one of the most common types of cups in the coffee industry is the one that’s used to serve lattes.
It’s usually made of ceramic or porcelain and holds between 8 oz. to 12 oz. (240 ml. to 350 ml.).
The latte cup is wide as the baristas use the larger surface to draw latte art.
Nevertheless, because of the bigger surface area, the coffee beverage loses heat at a quicker rate.
So even if made of ceramic or porcelain, which are known to hold heat well, your coffee beverage may get cold quicker than anticipated.
It’s worth noting that you can get yourself cool late cups with vintage designs that will make your latte art stand out and let you enjoy your drink even more.
Here’s a great example:
Click here to check out the price of the ceramic latte cup from the photo above on Amazon.
3. Latte Macchiato Glass
The Latte Macchiato is a layered coffee drink with milk, so it’s traditionally served in a glass instead of a cup. This way you can see the layers of this common espresso-based beverage.
The Latte Macchiato Glass is usually tall and narrow and holds between 9 oz. to 10 oz. (270 ml. – 300 ml.).
With that being said, as with all drinks, the serving sizes and the way the beverage is served vary from one coffee shop to another.
4. Cappuccino cup
The Cappuccino cup usually holds between 5 fl. oz. (150 ml) to 7 fl. oz. (200 ml) and is made of ceramic or porcelain.
Its surface isn’t usually as wide as the surface of a latte cup, as cappuccinos aren’t traditionally topped off with latte art.
Instead of a drawing, this classic beverage has a brown ring and a white milk stain.
Of course, you can find that the cappuccino is served in various ways and in different types of cups across different coffee locations.
There are also great unique-looking stoneware cappuccino cups, such as these two in the photo below:
Click here to check them out on Amazon.
There are, in fact, other traditional coffee drinks that are also served in this type of cup. For example, americano, flat white, and babyccino beverages would often be poured in a classic cappuccino cup.
5. Gibraltar glass
The Gibraltar glass is a thermally optimized and durable 4.5 oz. (133 ml) coffee glass.
It is used for different concentrated espresso-based beverages, such as Cortado, Piccolo latte, Gibraltar, and Marocchino.
6. Classic/ Drip Mug
When discussing coffee drinkware, it’s impossible not to mention the most common type – the drip coffee mug.
It is usually 8 oz (240 ml), but some have a much higher capacity of 16 oz. and over. It’s mainly used to serve drip coffee drinks.
To be fair, since they’re so widely spread among households, there are many types of coffee mugs in terms of materials and designs. Most of them are made of ceramic.
Nevertheless, you can easily get your hands on porcelain and bone china mugs with impressively stylish designs.
Furthermore, you can get a customized drip coffee mug with a photo on it, or buy a sarcastic one with a witty saying that will make you smile each time you take a sip. Another common type is the campfire mug.
Furthermore, there are stainless steel insulated coffee mugs that will keep your drinks hot for longer. They often have lids and are great options if you’re on the go. But more on this type of thermal mugs later in this post.
There is a large variety when it comes to handle styles as well. The most common types are the C-shape, D-shape, O-shape, and the infinite handle that is only fixed to the mug at the top.
With that being said, the variety of options when it comes to handles is virtually unlimited. Here’s a great example of a unique-looking ceramic mug with an unusual handle design:
It is hand-painted, and you can check it out on Amazon by clicking here.
7. Cafe au lait bowl
The Cafe au lait coffee bowl is a drinking vessel that is traditionally used for serving Cafè au lait drinks. Its capacity is 13 fl. oz. (380 ml).
8. Irish Coffee Glass
The traditional footed Irish coffee glass has a handle and a capacity of 6 oz. to 8 oz. (180 ml to 240 ml).
Irish coffee is an alcoholic beverage, made of espresso, Irish whiskey, and sugar, and it’s topped off with whipped cream.
Author’s Note: When discussing the different types of coffee mugs, cups, and glasses, we should also mention some less-common coffee drinks and how they’re traditionally served.
- Affogato dessert glass: The affogato is an espresso-based dessert-like drink that consists of ice cream and espresso. It’s traditionally served with a spoon in a footed dessert glass.
- Shakerato/Espresso Martini glass. The Shakerato and the Espresso Martini are both espresso-based cold coffee beverages that are served in a martini glass. The former is non-alcoholic, while the latter – an alcoholic drink.
- Cafe Leccese glass. The Caffè Leccese is an Italian iced coffee drink that is served in a clear glass over ice cubes.
Bicerin glass: Bicerin is a delicious coffee drink that’s not that widely spread.
It’s served in an elegant goblet-style glass with a teaspoon on the side.
9. Thermal mug
Thermal coffee mugs are a type of mugs that are usually made of double-wall vacuum insulated stainless steel.
Their capacity varies within a wide range and their main purpose is to keep your coffee drink hot for as long as possible.
Thermal mugs have lids that additionally help with heat retention.
Furthermore, they keep your coffee fresh for longer, meaning that its aromas and flavor notes won’t escape your cup by the time you take your last sip.
Related Post: How long can coffee be left to sit out?
I have a detailed post in which I list the best thermal mugs. There you can find a guide on the top products that will keep your drink hot and that are also great for travel. You can check it out by clicking here.
Anyway, one of the best thermal mugs on the market is this one by the brand Yeti.
Click here to check out its price and more photos on Amazon.
10. Travel mugs and cups
Like thermal mugs, travel coffee mugs are usually made of stainless steel for durability.
They are also intended to keep your drink hot for longer, but what sets them apart is the fact that they’re leak-proof.
This feature lets you toss them on the back seat of your car, or throw them in your bag without worrying that your coffee will spill all over.
11. Eco-friendly coffee mugs
Eco-friendly coffee mugs are made of sustainable materials such as rice husk and bamboo.
They are usually BPA-free and can be used both at home and as alternatives to single-use to-go cups at coffee shops.
It’s worth noting that some types of eco-friendly coffee mugs and cups aren’t made of sustainable materials.
Nevertheless, their design makes it easier for the consumer to carry them around as a substitute for disposable cups.
For example, the collapsible coffee mug by Stojo is made of silicone, but it’s a more sustainable substitute for single-use coffee cups.
Click here to check out the cup’s price on Amazon.
12. Smart mug
A smart coffee mug is a type of mug that is controlled through an application on your phone.
It’s a chargeable device that lets you control the temperature of your drink.
It isn’t microwaveable and you can’t put it in the dishwasher, but it’s a unique next-generation type of mug that makes a great gift for virtually anyone.
For example, the Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug has a great reputation and has made many people enjoy their morning coffee ritual even more.
Click here to check out its price and more photos on Amazon.
Because of how cool it is, I’ve also included the Ember in my guide on the best gifts for coffee lovers.
13. Self-stirring coffee mugs
Self-stirring coffee mugs are usually battery-operated.
Their distinctive function is mixing hot or cold coffee drinks.
Naturally, they aren’t exclusively made for coffee, so you can use them for any beverage that needs a bit of stir.
Self-stirring mugs are also ideal for hot chocolate as they great at mixing the sauce that tends to settle at the bottom.
If you’re interested, you can check out this self-stirring mug with a lid by TXLOOK. It works great and it looks quite nice, so it could make a great gift.
Click here to check out its price on Amazon.
14. Disposable coffee cups
When going over the different types of coffee cups and mugs, we just can’t leave out the most commonly used ones – disposable, single-use coffee cups.
They are generally utilized in coffee shops for to-go drinks.
Even if made of paper, most disposable cups aren’t sustainable or compostable, since they have a plastic lining that makes them leakproof.
Furthermore, they are often accompanied by plastic lids.
Related Post: Best Coffee Makers without BPA and Plastic
That’s why some manufacturers have started to offer biodegradable single-use cups that come with recyclable lids.
Check out these eco-friendly single-use cups by Yes!Fresh on Amazon.
I hope that you found this guide helpful and you’ve learned a bit more about the different types of coffee mugs.
The variety when it comes to coffee drinkware is impressive. Knowing that will make it easier for you to choose the coffee cup that matches your sense of aesthetics and needs best.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or simply share what type you liked best.