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What Are Demitasse Cups? Half-Cup Guide (Size, Use, Origin)

A demitasse is French for “half cup”. It is a small cup used to serve espresso. The term typically refers to the volume of coffee, although it can also refer to the actual coffee.

Demitasse is also known as demi-tasse or espresso cup.

What Are Demitasse Cups

What are Demitasse Cups Used For?

Demitasse cups are typically used for espresso and other strong coffees that are best served in small portions.

Demitasse cups are also used for Turkish coffee, Greek coffee, and various espresso drinks (like ristretto and cappuccino).

While tea might be served in demitasse cups, they are made for coffee.

Demitasse Pronunciation


For English speakers, this can be a challenging looking word. But it’s French. Remember the basic letter sounds back in high school French?

How Many Ounces is a Demitasse?

The capacity of a demitasse cup is about 2-3 fl oz (60-90 ml), half the volume of a standard coffee cup.

Here’s a guide to how many ounces are in a cup of coffee.

The size of demitasse cups ranges from 2 to 2.5 inches in height. They are sometimes served with a small saucer, about 4 inches in diameter.

The Italian Espresso National Institute recommends a demitasse as the ideal cup size for Italian espresso.

It is a white china cup, free of any inside decoration, elliptical in shape, with a capacity of 50-100 millilitres. This is the only cup whereby it is possible to fully appreciate the look of an excellent froth, the precious smell and the warm and smooth taste of espresso.

Istituto Espresso Italiano

Demitasse Cups Around the World

Here are what demitasse cups are known as around the world.

  • Copa tacita (Spanish)
  • Tazzina da caffè (Italian)
  • Copo demitasse (Portuguese)
  • Mokkatasse (German)
  • Demitasse (French)
  • Demi or Demi Cup
  • Espresso cup

Here are 8 steps to a perfect espresso shot.

Origin of Demitasse Espresso Cups

As the name suggests, demitasse originated in France. It means half-cup.

Demitasse dates back to the 1800s as a way to drink coffee after dinner.

demitasse espresso cup
Variety of demitasse espresso cups: metal, porcelain, ceramic

What Are Demitasse Cups Made Of?

Most demitasse cups are made of ceramic or porcelain. Some are made of pottery or glass. We have a set of double-walled metal cups and saucers.

When we visited Calle Ocho in Miami, we had delicious Cuban coffee in a paper demitasse cup. And Dena found a nice set of patterned cups and saucers on that visit. They are the floral print cups pictured in the images in this post.

While the traditional espresso cup is white, you’ll also find many patterned demitasse cups.

Demitasse vs Espresso Cups

What’s the difference between demitasse cups and espresso cups? Not much. Some demitasse cups have decoration and can be shaped like a teacup. But most demitasse cups are also espresso cups.

demitasse cups

What do you think? Is it expresso or espresso?

Learn more about the differences between French press and espresso coffee.

Your Turn

Do you prefer demitasse cups for your espresso? What other coffee drinks do you enjoy in your demi cup?