About Cups

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I have really had enough … I can’t believe how many places are using the wrong cup to serve their long black coffees in. And on a couple of occasions when I have asked the barista or waiter about the cups they are using, I have received a blank look.

So, here we go …

(BTW: I am indebted to the folks at the Vincenza Gourmet Coffee online shop for the loan of these images and to John Vroom who is the main man at one of Melbourne’s best up and coming coffee roasters – Maker Fine Coffee).

Tulip Cup

This is the cup that I have been speaking about. This is the cup that cafes should be using when they are serving long black coffees to their customers.

The capacity of this cup is approximately 180ml and is not to be confused with the espresso cup (similar shape but only half the capacity – 90ml).

If you are interested, there is a really good overview of the making of a good long black at this web site – The Perfect Long Black.
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Cappuccino Bowl Cup

This cup has been designed for cappuccino – it even says that in its name! When making coffee with milk, the cup needs to be larger to enable the coffee and the milk to fit.

The capacity of this cup is approximately 280ml (55% bigger) which means that not only is there extra capacity, there is extra surface area (contact on the cup) and extra exposure to room temperature. This results in more water being used (affects the taste of the coffee), quicker cooling (because of the extra exposure to porcelain and air) and far more opportunity to kill the crema – the essence of the coffee (crema is dispersed across broader area).

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Having checked the Vincenza Coffee Online Store, they sell eight different styles of coffee cups – mugs (380ml), tulip mugs (350ml), cappuccino bowl cups (280ml), cappuccino cups (220ml), latte cups (200ml), tulip cups (180ml), piccolo cups (90ml) and espresso cups (90ml) and this doesn’t even include glasses and tea cups. They stock all of these cups for a reason – each type of coffee requires different cups shapes and capacities, in much the same way as different wines are served in different glass shapes / capacities.

My experience in regional Australia is that, often, “bigger is better” when it comes to serving coffee – it was in central Queensland where I first saw that abomination called a mugaccino (or worse still, a “mug of chino” – no, seriously). Regional folk are generally generous to a tee and maybe they think that, by offering a bigger coffee, they are offering you more than you would get in a standard (read, “correct”) cup.

I guess that I can understand that to a degree when it comes to milk-based coffee (latte, cappuccino, etc) because, as has been said elsewhere, you can cover up a whole lot of coffee sins with warm milk – in fact, except for the temperature, how does a cappuccino differ from a coffee milk shake?

But when it comes to coffee without milk, more is not better. The tulip cup has been designed for a reason – that reason being that long blacks in a cappuccino bowl cup taste pretty ordinary.

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