If you're like me, you've found yourself staring down the list of impressively (and intimidatingly)…
Tradition and innovation have historically been at odds. Yet, each one feeds from the other. But not all traditions should remain unaltered. The new, replaces the old for the better many times. There is a good deal of broken coffee traditions already. The traditional cappuccino vs the “Starbucks” or “Dunkin’ Donuts” version, a fine example.
When buying cappuccino cups and saucers, you’ll come close to this old debate in a way you never thought of.
Although it may seem trivial, the right cappuccino mug can enhance your coffee experience. Not all cups are made equal. The range of variety is huge and deciding on one over the other is a daunting endeavor.
Therefore, let’s consider all we need to know about cups and saucers.
Let us decide whether tradition must be broken or followed strictly to the bone. But where do we begin? Let’s start with “why.”
That subtitle is not an overkill. When we finally sit down to enjoy our coffee, nothing else should ruin that cherished occasion. No one wants to deal with a cup that feels funny on your lips and takes you away from your cappuccino or espresso shot. Imagine it gave off weird odors or was the wrong color. Anything that may derail our sense of taste at that moment is a negative.
Provided you did everything right, from the time you finish preparing your drink, to the time you sit at your table, the drink will start to cool down. The cup you use needs to be designed to preserve the most amount of heat possible. It doesn’t have to act as a thermos, but it should keep it hot enough for you to enjoy the drink, like we do with soup. It should be hot enough to enjoy.
The cup’s design should aid in keeping the heat inside your cup.
This is really an essential thing to remember before we buy. Although we were drawn at first by the aesthetics of the cup, its material should make our final decision definite. So much the same as when we buy a fabric we intend to wear. The most common materials are: porcelain, bone china, earthware, stoneware, glass, melamine, and the dreaded plastic.
These barista designed cups, by notNeutral, are an excellent buy. They are traditional in character and are the exact size to serve a traditional cappuccino. Made from porcelain, these cups will retain heat for as long as they should. Their white color is inviting and classy. It's for those who cut no corners in enjoying their coffee experience. One plus they'll enjoy is the handle design. It’s comfortable in your fingers. The cups also come with a matching saucer.
The design of this cup, though, is not random. Behind it is a study of ergonomics, fluid dynamics and the interplay between the nose and the mouth. All this resulting in a fashionable, and yet, a practical and comfortable cup.
If you feel a bit risqué to deviate from tradition, then you have a selection of colors to choose from. Sure, they have a white in the line-up if you want to stay within the rules. They also come with the saucers. They are made from high-fired porcelain. An excellent choice for better cups or cappuccino mugs, though you’ll pay for it. They sell sets of two. These cups and saucers are commercial grade. So if you're looking for durability, these are your cups.
From the aesthetics point of view, their egg shape give a contemporary, formal look.
These cups are also made from high-fired porcelain that translates to chip resistant. They are a bit denser as well. They are great for the café, but also excellent for home use. At 6.5 oz you’ll stay within the traditional size. Great for coffee competitions or entertaining friends. You won’t sacrifice a thing. Reasonably priced, and you can save if you buy more.
Espresso parts, a well reputed name among the coffee industry, backs this product with their name. That’s a risky venture on their part. Yet, a sigh of relief for the consumer. Making an informed decision is difficult enough, It’s always easier when someone you can trust can produce what you need.
These cups are beautifully simple, and that’s a complement.
With these cups, we enter into another category, the stoneware variety. We also are derailing a bit from tradition in size as they are 7 oz. That aside, they are a great buy for those who want to spend more money for a brand name. They come with the Le Creusset name and reputation. Heat retention and reputation are their trademark. So, you won't have to worry about your coffee getting cold. They are built to last, withstand extremes in temperature, are oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.
Another great feature is that they are easy to clean. The glazing inside out is not only for looks. It makes cleaning easier, avoiding stains from sticking. It also prevents scratches and chipping. They are not porcelain, but a great alternative.
Elegance doesn’t have to cost a lot nor be pompous. Sweese delivers a sturdy cup that keeps your drink hot. They feel good. Yes, they’re very basic. However, they are superb where it matters. For example, they are the correct size, 6 oz. Not only this matters for our cappuccinos or lattes, but during storage. You could put them away them in narrow drawers or cabinets. The cups fit comfortably on top of the saucers. Of course, this is because they are not as thick as the other products already reviewed.
Also, made of pro-grade porcelain guarantees some durability and heat retention.
Their price is very affordable, and they come in a set of 6. A variety of colors is also available.
These double walled glass cups don’t conform to tradition but perhaps start a new one. They make sense. Imagine yourself, like most days, multitasking at work or at home. Most times our drink cools off before we have time to taste it. They are a perfect remedy for that. They feel nice on your hands and because of the double walls, they act just like a thermos, you won't get burnt even when the drink is still hot.
You can use these as latte cups as well.
Again, a thermos type glass. De'Longhi’s reputation for espresso solutions for the home barista is vast. These cups are very eye appealing and most importantly they retain heat longer than a traditional cup. The double walled construction acts just as a thermos by insulating your drink to last longer.
When it comes to aesthetics, they are elegant. Made of Borosilicate, glass, they are durable and easy to clean. You can put them in your dishwasher with the rest of the dishware. These cups are not made to last for ever. Some people complained about their fragility. They come as a set of two. A bit pricey for just cups, no saucers.
If you want to make a traditional drink, then you would only consider cups not larger than 6 oz. Cappuccinos and lattes are not medium or large, not to even think super large. They have a preset size 5.5-6 oz. Additionally, they must be white and served on a matching saucer.
Of course, the cup won’t change the proportions of coffee, milk, and espresso that go into those drinks. The barista, you, must do it right.
The quality and price of your cups will be seriously impacted by the material it’s made from. This is as simple as choosing between gold, silver, copper, and zinc if you were buying jewelry. The better the material, the more you’ll pay for your cups.
Porcelain is a ceramic that mainly contains different clays and minerals. It’s mainly divided into three main categories: hard-paste, soft-paste, and bone china. These clays are fired up in temperatures that range between 1,200-1,400 (or higher) degrees. This process gives porcelain its vitreous (glassy) finish. Anything at the lower temperature would be soft paste or bone china. Of the three, the soft paste is the least desirable. If you want to read more on this process read here:
As a heat retaining material, porcelain it’s better than other materials. Because the clay components are heated at high temperatures, the non-porous product loses heat at a slower rate. This is ideal to keep your coffee drink hot longer.
Cups made out from stoneware are going to have thicker walls than the ones made from porcelain. Because of this, they’ll keep your coffee alright. The clays that compose stoneware are baked at lower temperatures, but still end up looking glassy without requiring any glazing. Although this material does not allow for the detail and artistic possibilities of porcelain, beautiful and durable pieces of wares can be produced. For example, the Le Creuset, reviewed above.
Glass is not the best material to keep things hot. It weighs more than ceramics. There are basically 4 types of glass. When buying cups, look for borosilicate glass, resistant enough to be baked. It’s heat-resistant but not necessarily a great insulator.
The cappuccino or latte cups we reviewed, are made from borosilicate glass. However, the vacuum flask or thermos-like design, play into keeping your drink hot for a long time. It’s the best of “two worlds.” This is a fine example when innovation or technology improve a tradition.
Stay away from these cups for the purposes of a cappuccino or latte. They have no heat retention properties to brag about.
The shape of the cups you choose is not a trivial decision. You want your cup to be thick enough in the right places. Picture yourself bringing your cup close to your lips, and before you taste anything, the chunky rim of your cup, steers your senses to that weird sensation. If you utter something, its perhaps related to the cup and not your delicious drink. So much for a spoiled ending.
Ideally, you want your cup to be constructed thinner where lips will touch and thicker from the there down to aid in insulation. Porcelain cups will be the best choice since they don’t have to be so thick as stoneware to retain heat. They’ll be more elegant as well.
Traditionally white is the color used to serve cappuccinos. The color is not going to ruin your drink.
We all have a personal sense of taste and style that overrules what others may think. Did you ever get into a pair of jeans one size smaller (or larger) because of the way you look in them?
If color will enhance your coffee moment, there’s an array of choices to choose from.
All the cups we reviewed would, more or less, help you in making that real cappuccino at home. Traditions are sometimes replaced by other traditions. So, trading porcelain for glass vacuum cups doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
5-6 oz ounces. It’s made using a single shot of espresso (7 g). It should be a balanced mixture of coffee, milk, and foam. Remember to use a third of each component. If you want to go gong-ho, see the Certified Espresso and Cappuccino Guide. Aim for the stars.
Absolutely! Just know that it won’t be considered a traditional cappuccino. Follow the rule of thirds (coffee, milk, and foam) to maintain a balance and come up with something close to the original.
You don't really need it, but it’s a practical add-on. Most of us accompany our coffee with biscotti, cookies, or crackers. They also hold a resting place for a teaspoon. I’ve seen people stirring their drink just to cool it down, or even scooping out the foam. Go figure!
It’s clear that choosing cups for cappuccinos or lattes can be easy if you consider your real needs.
If our only need is the aesthetics, then we have an immense variety of choices. But, if our main goal is to enjoy a traditional drink at home, then our winner is the Lino cups.
They meet all the requirements for you to make a traditional cappuccino: size, material, color, design and looks. The handle design gives it a modern look and at the same time it serves its purpose well.
We all want to get more from our money. So buying porcelain is an investment. The Lino cups are made from high-fired porcelain. This process not only ensures heat retention, but a sturdy and beautiful cup. Although other materials, like stoneware are great insulators, they would have to be constructed thicker to have the same type of heat retention a thinner porcelain cup would have.
Traditions are the backbone of who we are. Moreover, the more we learn about technology, materials and science, we can learn to maintain those traditions while adapting to new ideas.
Nevertheless. New traditions are also welcomed and started all the time. Although a super size cappuccino or latte would not be considered traditional to the purist, it would be traditional in your favorite café, among your friends, at home. It’s a tradition in the US to super size everything. The opposite is also true in Europe where portions tend to be smaller. In Rome, you can get a traditional size cappuccino everywhere, but also a 10 oz or larger if you order it.
The cappuccino and latte have evolved. Whether you use cappuccino mugs or cups, you’ll still be maintaining in essence, the tradition of mixing two of the food staples of our fast-paced times: milk (comfort) and coffee (energy and everything else).