What exactly is a “cup” of coffee? Did you know that Americans have been wrong for decades about how many true ounces are in a cup of coffee?
Almost every coffee drinker in the U.S. will tell you that their “cup” of coffee is 8 oz. This is generally based on the measurement system that our country uses. Most of us would say that 1 cup = 8 oz. This is where things take a left turn and don’t jive with what the rest of the world would say.
We have gathered and compiled a fascinating read on just how much a “cup” of coffee really is. Let’s dive into that cup and take a look at how many ounces are in a cup of coffee.
How many ounces are in a “cup” of coffee?
When you ask the average person in the U.S. how much a “cup” is, they will tell you 8 ounces. The U.S. uses a measurement system (U.S. Customary) that has taught us for hundreds of years that 1 cup of fluid volume equals 8 ounces. So naturally, we are going to refer to a “cup” as a full 8 ounces.
However, when it comes to the coffee industry, a “cup” is not 8 ounces.
The Key Factor of a True “Cup” of Coffee
Two officially recognized coffee associations (see below) determine the standards for coffee. These standards are used as guidelines worldwide when it comes to brewing coffee.
- National Coffee Association of the U.S.A.
They set the “Golden Ratio” of 1-2 Tbsp. of coffee per 6 oz. of water.
- Specialty Coffee Association of America
They set the “Golden Cup Standard” of 55 gm of coffee per 1 liter of water.
Now we will see why a “cup” of coffee is 6 ounces, not 8 ounces!
Both coffee associations that set the standard for brewing coffee do so based on a 6 oz. allotment of coffee. This is your “cup” of coffee! As you can see, an official “cup” of coffee is not 8 oz., but 6 oz.
- When you visit your favorite coffee house, your barista uses the 6 oz. coffee standard.
- When you purchase packaged coffee, the instructions are based on the 6 oz. coffee standard.
- Universally, all coffee machine manufacturers use the 6 oz. coffee standard. For example, your coffee machine may make 12 “cups” of coffee. Each of these “cups” is 6 oz., not 8 oz.
There is quite a bit of ambiguity in the exact amounts of coffee in a “cup” in the coffee industry. However, you will find that even the leading coffee houses, such as Starbucks, stick to the 6 oz. coffee standard.
Specialty Coffees with Varying Sizes
When referring to a “cup” of coffee, the typical basis for this is 6 oz. of regular coffee.
Specialty coffees come in specific sizes, but are served in vessels varying in size. Because of this, you will find that a specialty coffee size (in ounces) will be different than a regular coffee.
|Demitasse Cup||Teacup, Small Tumbler||Regular Mug||Large Tumbler, Tall Mug|
|2 oz.||4 oz.||6-12 oz.||12 oz.|
How does Starbucks do it?
Starbucks is the most popular coffee shop in the U.S. We have broken down what you are paying per ounce of freshly brewed coffee as well as how much each milligram of caffeine costs.
|Short (8 oz.)||Tall (12 oz.)||Venti (16 oz.)||Grande (22 oz.)|
|Caffeine||155 mg||235 mg||310 mg||410 mg|
|Price Per Beverage||$1.85||$1.95||$2.10||$2.45|
|Price Per Ounce||$0.23||$0.16||$0.13||$0.11|
|Price Per mg of Caffeine||$0.01||$0.008||0.006||0.005|
This goes to show you, the more coffee you order, the cheaper it is not only ounce-wise but caffeine-wise too!
The “Last Sip”
Have we opened your eyes as to just how much coffee is in your “cup?”
Now that you have absorbed the facts and details of what a true “cup” of coffee is, you may find yourself thinking about those two ounces. Knowing this now, you can easily justify drinking just a little more coffee to make up for the 2 oz. deficit from previous cups.
Next time you are having coffee with someone, ask them about how many ounces are in a cup of coffee. You will undoubtedly have a great conversation starter!