Why Is A Cup Of Coffee 6 oz Instead Of 8 oz?

Why Is A Cup Of Coffee 6 oz Instead Of 8 oz?

Last updated on August 20th, 2023 at 10:19 am

If you know your basic measurements, you understand a cup is equal to eight ounces. Whenever we sit down to a nice piping hot cup of coffee, many of us assume we are drinking eight ounces of the beverage.

You may be surprised to learn this is not the case.

A standard coffee cup in the United States is only six ounces, and this same measurement applies to tea cups. If you have thought all this time that you were drinking a full cup, now you know it isn’t true.

But why are coffee cups only six ounces? Is there a reason, or is this one of those strange things that seem to become commonplace, and no one ever really knows why?

dark coffee in ceramic mug on a wood table

The Universal Size for Coffee Cups

The universal size for coffee cups is six ounces, but who decided on this amount and why? Because so many people love coffee, you are probably like millions and drink from a travel cup that can hold around 24 ounces.

When we measure a cup of water, it is eight ounces. Why is it that when we fill our coffee cup, it is only six ounces?

You may have found out the hard way there are differences in measurements if you ever tried to use a coffee cup in place of a measuring cup for a recipe.

You may be surprised to learn why a coffee cup is only six ounces. It turns out that the reason is that the medical community decided six ounces was the proper serving size for coffee due to its caffeine content.

Luckily, six ounces is the universal serving size, and you will find very little deviation from this measurement, no matter the country you visit.

pouring coffee into a white mug
Image credit: Coffee Geek TV

Coffee Maker Manufacturers Have Taken Notice

Once six ounces became the universal standard for the coffee cup, many coffee maker manufacturers took notice and adopted the use of six ounces as their own cup measurements.

You will find that there is no universal cup size for coffee makers. The reason for the discrepancies boils down to competition.

When people buy coffee makers, they often want the ones that make the most cups of coffee possible, unless they live alone.

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Some coffee maker manufacturers want to appeal to potential customers by making it seem as if their makers make more coffee.

The truth is that these companies often reduce their cup serving sizes from six to five or even four ounces.

This reduction makes it look like you are getting more servings from each pot, but due to the reduction, it is really the same amount of coffee.

coffee maker with coffee cup and travel mug

What Size of Coffee Cup Do Most People in the United States Use?

We now know the recommend serving size of coffee is six ounces, but who is drinking this small amount? Most people who drink coffee regularly are somewhat addicted to it. Who are we kidding?

We can’t function without it!

Have you seen the coffee cups for sale in stores lately? These cups are massive. Most coffee cups being sold in the United States today range from 12 to 24 ounces.

That is like drinking up to four serving sizes in one cup.

small, medium, large coffee cups

How Much Grounds Should You Use for the Perfect Cup?

According to the National Coffee Association, you can make the perfect cup of Joe by using one to two tablespoons for every six ounces of water.

Because coffee machine makers do not always use the standard six-ounce cup measurement, you may need to bypass the system.

To get the perfect cup, using any coffee machine, you are going to need to ignore the cup measure indicators. Instead, fill a six-ounce coffee cup full of water and fill up the machine according to the ounces it will hold.

If you have a 96-ounce coffee maker, for instance, you will need 16 six-ounce cups of water and 16-32 tablespoons of coffee grounds, depending on how strong you like your morning cup.

This means you will use one to two cups of coffee grounds for a 96-ounce carafe.

coffee grounds on a spoon

You Will Never Look at a Cup of Coffee the Same

Now that you know why coffee cups are six ounces instead of eight, you will likely never look at a cup of coffee without thinking about this lesson.

It really is strange how our thoughts towards coffee have changed over the years.

Coffee was once thought to be a healing tonic and was regularly consumed for stomach ailments.

Today, we basically drink it because it tastes good and gives us that pep we need to make it through our busy days.

No matter why you drink a cup, make it the best cup of coffee possible and smile while you enjoy the taste.

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