What are the best takeaway cups for espresso?

Jane Merchant
April 29, 2022
What are the best takeaway cups for espresso

After months of social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, coffee consumption trends show customers are slowly returning to cafés.

According to a 2022 consumer trend report, more consumers are seeking out consistently prepared, high-quality beverages which they may find difficult to replicate at home. This includes freshly brewed offerings such as espresso.

As on-the-go coffee consumption slowly returns to pre-Covid-19 levels, roasters and café owners can expect to field more takeaway orders for espresso and espresso-based drinks. 

Several studies show how different factors of takeaway cups can alter consumer perceptions of coffee. Therefore, it is essential the right takeaway cups are used to highlight an espresso’s characteristics.

Read on to find out what roasters and coffee shops need to consider when choosing takeaway cups for espresso.

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Caucasian woman behind espresso counter serving espresso shot in clear glass cup sitting on brown glass plate.

How is an espresso usually served in cafés?

Espresso is often considered to be specialty coffee in its purest and punchiest form.

Changing its brew ratios can alter its mouthfeel and taste. For instance, a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio creates a ristretto espresso, while a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio results in a lungo espresso.

Espresso can also form the base of many popular coffee shop staples, including cappuccinos, lattes, and even a few cocktails.

Notably, there is no standard volume of ratio for a single shot. The exact volume and ratio of the espresso can often vary between cafés and target markets.

Some cafés use between 16g and 19g of coffee for espresso to yield a 32g to 38g shot. Others may use 7gs of coffee to produce a 21g shot. Double espressos are usually double whatever cafés consider to be a single shot.

However, some cafés may have a separate recipe for this. For instance, some customers may prefer more liquid, or a lungo espresso that is less bitter and more diluted.

Regardless of the chosen ratio, espresso will need to be served in a smaller cup.

Standard espresso cups can hold between 50ml (1.6oz) and 100ml (3.4oz), providing enough space for the crema to sit on top without dissipating. Most will have a thicker rim to highlight the espresso’s slightly thicker texture.

Another consideration is the espresso’s temperature. It needs to be extracted at a specific temperature to highlight its best attributes. According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), the ideal temperature of the water used to extract espresso is between 90.5°C to 96.1°C (195°F and 205°F).

Depending on the environmental temperature, baristas may need to preheat their serving cups, as extracting a shot into a colder vessel can lower this ideal temperature. 

White paper takeaway coffee cup for espresso with recycled cardboard cup sleeve sitting on wooden counter.

Selecting suitable takeaway cups for espresso

Understanding how espresso is served will determine a coffee shop’s choice in takeaway cups. 

Essentially, baristas will need a smaller volume cup, preferably one with a thicker rim. Furthermore, the cups will need to preserve the espresso’s heat, while still being comfortable enough for customers to hold.

Additionally, the cup must appeal to customers’ desires to make more environmentally friendly purchasing decisions. This means investing in takeaway coffee cups that can be easily recycled or composted.

Plastic cups have been a traditional choice for serving hot takeaway drinks. However, these have fallen out of favour with customers and businesses due to their negative environmental impact.

Many governments around the world have started phasing out single-use plastic packaging for their country’s retail industries.

One of the most effective alternatives to plastic is paper takeaway cups. While their permeability was a concern when serving hot drinks, paper cups can now be coated in wax, polylactic acid (PLA), or polyethylene (PE).

As long as they are correctly disposed of and processed, paper cups can have a significantly smaller environmental impact than their plastic counterparts.

The move towards recyclable and compostable alternatives aligns with Drinktrade’s 2022 coffee trend report, which predicts carbon neutrality and the shift towards sustainable packaging will be more relevant to roasters. 

A benefit of serving espresso is that it rarely includes ingredients that could accelerate its cooling, such as milk or cream. However, paper struggles to insulate heat naturally, so investing in double walled cups can help preserve an espresso’s heat. 

This is particularly important, as it is estimated that a coffee’s temperature can drop by 10°C to 15°C (20°F to 25°F) in as little as five minutes.

Including a coffee cup lid can also help limit the exposure of the drink’s surface area to the external environment. This can further help retain the beverage’s ideal temperature. 

However, if coffee shops discover the paper takeaway cup is too hot for consumers to hold, they can invest in cardboards sleeves. An added benefit to cardboard sleeves is that they are easy to brand and recycle in most markets. 

three metal portafilters on countertops. One filled with ground coffee for espresso, one filled with whole beans, one filled with tamped ground coffee.

For coffee shops who offer espressos as a takeaway option, timing is critical. Taking too long to serve it can result in unwanted cooling, and its trademark crema may dissipate before it can be consumed. 

Ensuring there is enough staff and equipment to meet demand is essential to overall customer service and repeat sales. 

Combining this with the right takeaway coffee cups can help roasters and coffee shops create a high-quality offering that reflects well on their brand. 

At MTPak Coffee, we can help you find the best takeaway cups for espresso. We offer 100% compostable takeaway cups in three different sizes: 8oz, 16oz, and 24oz. Made from PLA and kraft paper, they can be customised with your branding to help showcase your business and the quality of your coffee.

Furthermore, we offer sustainable double walled takeaway cups that will not only preserve the temperature of your coffee but also reduce your environmental impact. 

Our design team uses sustainable water-based inks that are low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are highly resistant to abrasion, heat, and water. They are also compostable and easy to remove for recycling.

For more information on sustainable takeaway coffee cups, contact our team.

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