Takeaway coffee cup sizes: Which do I invest in?

Hayley Osbourne
April 28, 2023
An image of four takeaway coffee cups in various sizes, takeaway coffee cups, kraft paper takeaway coffee cups, recyclable takeaway cups, in an article on takeaway coffee cup sizes

In order to improve the customer experience, it is essential the size of your takeaway coffee cup complements the order. For instance, a flat white presented in a takeaway cup better suited for lattes may leave the customer feeling as if they are missing half their order. More so, if a barista pours an espresso or flat white into a coffee cup designed for larger volumes, the increased surface area will cause the beverage to lose heat at a faster rate. This can not only alter the coffee’s flavour but also contribute to a negative customer experience.

While investing in takeaway coffee cups that range in size may seem costly at first, both roasters and cafes can benefit in several ways. Over time, matching orders to a takeaway cup of the same size can help a brand become more cost-effective by reducing waste and, in turn, its carbon footprint. Furthermore, it can help improve customer satisfaction, boosting brand loyalty and repeat sales.

That said, there are several factors to consider when determining which coffee cup sizes are best for your takeaway offerings. These will include a brand’s menu and range of beverage customisations as well as consumer demand.

Read on to discover more about takeaway coffee cup sizes, what a “standard” size really is, and which cup is best suited to your business.

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What are “standard” takeaway coffee cup sizes?

It is important to note the “titles” or size of takeaway cups can differ depending on the establishment. For example, US coffee house Starbucks uses the terms “tall”, “short”, “grande”, and “venti”, while other coffee shops may default to “regular” or “large”. Takeaway coffee cup are usually sold depending on how many ounces (oz) of liquid they can hold. For instance, a “small” cup is likely to hold 8oz, making them suitable for flat whites.

Standard takeaway coffee cups sizes often range from 4oz to 16oz:

  • 4oz cups: This is considered the smallest cup size and is best suited to drinks such as espressos, cortados, and piccolos.
  • 8oz cups: Often considered a medium, and is best suited for drinks that contain more liquid than an espresso but are not as large as lattes, such as flat whites.
  • 12oz cups: This large cup is perfect for milk-based offerings, such as lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos. They can also be used for cold beverages, including iced Americanos, iced lattes, and cold brew.
  • 16oz cups: Some coffee shops offer an extra-large option and prefer to use this size cup for iced drinks.
An image of three clear takeaway cups from Starbucks showing how consumers can customise their orders, customised coffee orders, in an article on takeaway coffee cup sizes

Factors that will determine the size of takeaway coffee cups

Before investing in a range of takeaway cups, you will have to do significant research into your business and local customer market.

Customer customisations

If the majority of your customers tend to customise their orders, it is likely large coffee cups will make up the bulk of your order. This allows baristas to comfortably accommodate any additions to the order. For instance, a customer ordering a hot chocolate may want to include whipped cream and marshmallows. A 12oz coffee cup will be able to hold the liquid, cream, and edible additions without overflowing. Plus, the customer may subconsciously feel they are getting a larger size than usual, which also benefits their experience.

Latte art and foam

Some drinks, such as lattes, may require extra space for the barista to provide latte art. More so, a recent study by Forbes reveals customers believe watching the barista apply latte art is part of the coffee-buying experience, and they are willing to pay 11% to 13% more to have it applied to their coffee. This being the case, a barista would need a larger-sized takeaway cup, such as a 12oz, to be given enough room to apply the art. The study also shows that investing in a large size takeaway cup for certain types of coffee to apply latte art can help benefit customer experience, as well as improve income for the business.

Size and practicality

Most importantly, takeaway coffee cups must be able to fit under the group heads of an espresso machine. Failure to do so could result in a health and safety risk, such as spills of hot coffee which may burn the barista. Additionally, the cups should ensure the correct coffee-to-milk ratio. An incorrect ratio could affect the flavour of the coffee, which could in turn result in negative customer reviews, loss of sales, and the brand losing business.

Heat retention

A heat loss of two to five degrees occurs when coffee is poured into a takeaway cup. Once inside the cup, heat can be retained by adding a lid, and ensuring the cup materials are insulated. However, if a beverage is poured into the wrong-sized cup, there may be a large space between the lid and the surface of the coffee. This space gives the coffee room to evaporate quicker, which leads to rapid loss of temperature. Even with a lid, this would decrease the temperature faster than if the cup was filled.

An image of a barista dialling in two shots of espresso into two recyclable takeaway coffee cups in an article on takeaway coffee cup sizes

What is the right takeaway coffee cup size for your business?

Notably, this will largely depend on how your business operates. If the majority of your offerings include customisations, you may need to purchase cups of various sizes to allow for that flexibility. If your company prides itself on the latte art you provide, you will need cups that give the baristas enough space to create it.

Most importantly, your business must do what it can to reduce unnecessary packaging. Ensuring you order only what is needed can help you save money and reduce packaging waste. Another effective way to reduce waste is to invest in eco-friendly takeaway cups that are recyclable, biodegradable or compostable.

MTPak Coffee offers coffee roasters, cafes, and other businesses a variety of takeaway coffee cups in different sizes. Our range of sustainable takeaway coffee cups is made from recyclable materials such as bamboo fibre, PET, or kraft paper with an environmentally friendly PLA lining and are available in different sizes: 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz.

Our takeaway coffee cups are strong, waterproof, lightweight, and 100% compostable, and can be custom-designed using innovative digital printing technology to feature your brand logo or recycling instructions.

For more information on takeaway coffee cups and clear cups for your business, contact our team.

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