“Dude!” he muttered, exasperated. “You did it wrong, AGAIN!”
“Oh, c’mon, man! What now?” I blurted out in frustration.
“You’ve put table seven’s latte in a cappuccino cup.”
“Seriously?” I moaned, like a petulant eight-year-old. I was beginning to resign myself to the possibility that I would never get it right. “How am I supposed to tell the difference? They look pretty much identical!”
Kaz’s face changed from annoyance to paternal sympathy. “Don’t worry, mate. I struggled at first as well. Keep at it and you’ll pick it up.”
It was my first week on the job as a barista at a little coffee shop tucked away in a sleepy corner of a quiet suburb, right by the train line. Kaz was right, as usual. I did pick it up soon enough. Before long, I was able to deftly navigate the minefield of Affogatos, Mochas, Macchiatos and Con Leches, with each served in the right utensil. That job got me through my university days and probably taught me more of use than most of my course units.
Coffee Cups 101
Before my barista experience, I had no idea that there even were different kinds of coffee cups. Sure, if pressed I probably would have figured out that an Espresso came in a smaller cup than other coffees, but that would have been the extent of it. Many people are likely in the same boat. However, just like wine, there are different shaped and sized cups, depending on the variety served.
Can You Feel the Heat?
Whereas in the case of wine, chemical factors such exposure to oxygen and other are the primary concern, with coffee, it’s all about the heat. The rule is simple: The shape of the cup will affect the temperature of its contents. The temperature of the coffee affects the taste. There is a reason why cold coffee tastes like diesel fuel that has passed its use-by date. The tricky part is that depending on what your brew is, the optimal temperature may vary. Let’s look at a few examples of coffee cups to see which is right for your preferred elixir:
These small, usually tapered cups provide the smallest exposed surface area, which helps keep the coffee hotter for longer. This is great for purists who enjoy the adrenalin surge of a fine Espresso or Short Macchiato. Demitasse Cups are perfect for a single shot. For those in more serious need of a fix, a double will go beautifully in Tulip Cups.
As the name would indicate, these wide-rimmed cups are perfect for Lattes, but also for Café Au Lait and Café con Leche. The common theme here is the milk. At temperatures higher than 65°C, the proteins and fat in milk start to burn, altering the taste. The larger surface area of Latte Cups ensures that the coffee has maximum chance to cool down before the milk hits it, protecting its delicate flavour. The catch is that your Latte will get cold quickly. Coffee purists caution that these milky varieties should be drunk quickly, so no lingering!
Again, the name says it all. Cappuccino cups are usually smaller and slightly narrower than Latte cups. The chief concern here is the froth. Too wide a surface and you risk a thin layer of froth that dissipates quickly. This is one of the reasons why the quality of your Cap can vary so markedly. Your barista needs to ensure to get a perfect head of froth while taking care that the temperature conditions remain optimal to retain the texture and flavour of the cow juice. The same principles make this the preferred receptacle for Viennese Coffee, Café Mocha and Affogato.
The humble mug has a larger size and balanced surface area-to-volume ratio. The aim here is merely to keep the greater volume as hot as can be for as long as possible. Less discerning caffeinados for whom a simple Long Black, French Press or Percolated will suffice, will do just fine with one of these. Ordinarily, I would not even mention those coffee infidels who drink Instant (otherwise known as “They Who Shall Not be Named”), however, in the interests of caffeinated equality, I will begrudgingly allow you guys a mug as well. Can’t have you licking it off the floor now, can we?
Where to Get the Best Coffee Cups Online?
At Homeware Secrets, of course! Our superb quality Roma range covers all these cup varieties in a rainbow of vibrant colours. Along with the matching saucers, they will add a stunning touch of class and sophistication to your morning brew. Get them while they’re still hot!