How Many Ounces Are In A Coffee Cup?

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Full transparency, I eyeball it when I’m making coffee at home. But I also firmly believe that certain brewing methods require accurate measurements. So in the spirit of accuracy, coffee lovers, I’m going to teach you exactly how many ounces are in a coffee cup!

How Many Ounces Are In A Coffee Cup
Pouring coffee | Photo by Gerson Cifuentes on Unsplash

As one might suspect, the answer to the question, “How many ounces are in a cup of coffee?” isn’t cut and dry. The answer depends upon several factors, such as how strong you like your coffee, what size mug you’re drinking out of, and how many total cups you’re brewing. And it can also vary depending on which country you buy your coffee in. Let’s get into it.

Cup of Coffee vs. “Cup” of Coffee

When it comes to weighing coffee, ounces and cups are both reliable measurements. But it’s important to know the difference between the common term “cup of coffee” and the actual measurement of a “cup” of coffee.

When you ask your date, “Hey…do you want to grab a cup of coffee?” you don’t mean sharing a literal volumetric 1-cup measurement of coffee. Instead, you’re suggesting going on a date to a coffee shop to enjoy any size, variety, or type of coffee drink (not just a regular cup of coffee).

How Many Ounces Are In A Coffee Cup?

In the United States, one cup equals 8 ounces. This measurement is technically known as a “customary cup” or a “legal cup.” In countries that use the metric system, like New Zealand, Canada, and Australia, one metric cup equals 250ml (8.45 ounces).

The simple and clear answer is that 8 fluid ounces equal one standard cup size.

History of the Coffee “Cup”

In the 1970s, when the Mr. Coffee Drip Coffee Maker was introduced, the company decided that people would drink more coffee if served in smaller 5 oz cups. So, they developed a coffee pot (coffee carafe) with markings indicating 5-ounce increments. Other coffee machine manufacturers followed suit, and that’s why we have these increments today!

Over time, the United States has grown accustomed to 8 ounces being the standard coffee cup size.

Coffee to Water Golden Ratio

You can use precise measurements to make what is considered perfect “customary cups” of coffee. If you’ve ever had weak or overly strong coffee, it’s most likely because the ratios were off. Using the golden ratio of water to coffee will ensure a perfect cup of coffee.

Here’s the golden ratio: 1.5-2 grams of whole bean coffee beans for every .98 ounces of water (28 grams). Notice how I said whole bean instead of ground coffee.

To avoid any confusion, I highly recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh your coffee. Kitchen scales are super affordable nowadays. I use this one from Amazon. Using a scale helps you get precise measurements and is more accurate than a measuring cup.

Weighing whole bean coffee on a digital kitchen scale
Weighing whole-bean coffee on a digital scale

What’s the Best Coffee to Water Ratio?

For every 1.5 – 2 grams of coffee (whole bean), use 26 grams of water (about 1 cup). Use fewer beans or more water to get a weaker or stronger cup of coffee.

How Many Ounces Are in a Cup?

A standard one-cup measurement equals 8 fluid ounces if you live in the United States. If you live in a country that uses the metric system, one cup equals 227.81 grams (8.03 fluid oz).

Why Weigh my beans with a digital scale?

Scales are a great tool to use if you’re trying to measure out your coffee precisely. They’re also fairly inexpensive and can be used for cooking and baking. Avoid using a measuring cup to weigh your coffee grounds or whole-bean coffee. Beans in a measuring cup are surrounded by little pockets of air that affect the volume measurement. For example, weighing the precise amount of coffee when making a French Press coffee is critical. This brewing method is particularly unforgiving when it comes to making a mistake with the coffee-to-water ratio.

Standard Coffee Cup Sizes

Whether it’s grabbing a quick drink to go or sitting down with friends to gossip over a cup of coffee, coffee shops have become an important part of our lives. Most coffee shops have standardized their cup measurements to avoid any confusion when ordering different sizes.

Standard Coffee SizeStarbucks Lingo
8 ozShort
12 ozTall
16 ozGrande
20 ozVenti
2 ozEspresso Cup
Starbucks vs. conventional coffee size naming

That said, the term “standard” might mean something different depending on where you go. For example, a standard (tall) cup at Starbucks is 12 ounces of coffee. Cups of coffee in most restaurants and diners are 8 ounces.

Lastly, a “cup” of coffee brewed at home completely depends on your size mug. And let’s not even get into travel mug sizes. They just keep growing.

Side note: An espresso cup is called a “demitasse,” which holds exactly 2 ounces.

Coffee Ordering Etiquette

I’m no Emily Post, but my 15 years as a Barista in Seattle did teach me a few things. One, most coffee shops don’t use the same lingo that Starbucks uses. They refer to their drink sizes by ounce rather than with names like “tall, grande,” etc.

So when ordering, you can ask for whatever size drink you’d like in ounces. Say, “Hi Bradley Cooper, I’d like a 16-ounce coffee, please, with room for cream. And your phone number.”

That simple.

Smiling female barista
Barista | Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

You’ve read this whole post, and now you’re ready to make a great pot of coffee! The only problem is your beans suck. I’m going to suggest some pricier beans than what you’d find at the store, but they’re worth it.

Here’s why.

Lifeboost coffee is the best-tasting, 100% chemical-free coffee on the market. Plus, it’s a coffee that you can feel great about drinking. That’s because Lifeboost coffee is 100% chemical-free, non-GMO, shade-grown, organic, and fair-trade. You can also subscribe and save if you’d like to get coffee automatically shipped to you each month.

Avatar of Kelsey Todd
Kelsey may not know everything about coffee, but after two decades as a barista in Seattle and Santa Barbara, he knows a thing or two. When he's not obsessing over the perfect cup, you can find him hanging out with his wife and daughter or sharing his java gems on this here blog.

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