Coffee Cups vs. Tea Cups: What’s the Difference?

Welcome to our brief guide that highlights the key differences between coffee cups (not mugs) and tea cups. If you've ever wondered which cup to use for your favorite hot beverage, read on to learn the essential distinctions between these two popular types of drinkware.

Important: Please be aware that in this article, we are focusing on the differences between CUPS for different beverages (coffee vs. tea). Do not confuse this with a coffee MUG. If you want to know the difference between a cup and a mug, please visit our article titled "What is the Difference Between Cup and Mug?"

Now, let's delve into the differences between a coffee cup and a tea cup:

Differences between Coffee Cup and Tea Cup
FeaturesCoffee CupsTea Cups
Size & ShapeLarger, wider, cylindricalSmaller, delicate, rounded
MaterialThicker, heat-retainingThinner, elegant, cooling
HandlesSturdy, larger gripDelicate, smaller grip
SaucersOptional, utilitarianDecorative, always included

Size and Shape

Coffee Cups

Coffee Cup - Size and Shape
  • Generally larger, with a capacity ranging from 6 to 20 ounces (180 to 360 milliliters).
  • Wider and taller, allowing for more space to hold coffee and cream.
  • The shape is often cylindrical, tapering slightly at the base for stability.

Tea Cups

Tea Cup - Size and Shape
  • Typically smaller, with a capacity of 5 to 8 ounces (150 to 240 milliliters)
  • Shallower and more delicate in appearance.
  • The shape is usually more rounded or curved, with a wider opening to release aroma and cool the tea.


Coffee Cups

Coffee Cup Material
  • Often made of stoneware, porcelain, or ceramic materials.
  • Thicker walls to retain heat and insulate the drink.
  • Sometimes feature double-walled insulation for added heat retention.

Tea Cups

Tea Cup Material
  • Typically made from fine bone china, porcelain, or glass.
  • Thinner walls to allow for faster cooling, as tea is usually consumed at a lower temperature than coffee.
  • Elegance and delicacy are prioritized in design, with intricate patterns and details.


Coffee Cups

Coffee Cup Handle
  • Sturdy and functional handles designed for a comfortable grip.
  • Generally larger, to accommodate fingers of various sizes.

Tea Cups

Tea Cup Handle
  • Smaller and more delicate handles, often reflecting the cup's design.
  • Usually intended for a single finger or a pinch grip.


Coffee Cups

Coffee Cup Saucer
  • May or may not include a saucer.
  • If present, saucers tend to be larger and more utilitarian.

Tea Cups

Tea Cup Saucer
  • Almost always come with a matching saucer.
  • Saucers are often smaller and more decorative, echoing the cup's design.


Understanding the differences between coffee cups and tea cups can enhance your overall hot beverage experience. While coffee cups are larger, sturdier, and designed for heat retention, tea cups prioritize elegance, aroma release, and a lower drinking temperature. Use this knowledge to choose the perfect cup for your favorite drink and enjoy every sip!

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