If you’re purchasing dishes for your home or considering dishes to use for a café or restaurant, it can sometimes be hard to choose between coffee mugs and coffee cups.

Although they sound similar and serve a similar purpose, the two dishes are actually quite different.

Coffee Mug vs Coffee Cup

Size and Shape

Coffee cups are usually relatively small and short, with a narrow bottom and a wide top. Coffee cups hold a small amount of liquid, sometimes equal to even less than an actual cup.

Coffee mugs, on the other hand, are tall and are designed to hold a large amount of liquid. A mug can usually hold more than 1 cup of liquid.

They’re usually about the same width at the bottom and top. A coffee cup is often made of thin or delicate porcelain, while a coffee mug is often made of much thicker porcelain.

Coffee Mug vs Coffee Cup

Coffee mugs can also sometimes be made of other materials, including glass.

Coffee cups have small, delicate handles. You can usually hold a coffee cup by placing just two fingers through the handle.

Coffee mugs have larger, sturdier handles, and you can usually place three or four fingers through these handles.

Because coffee mugs are sturdier and thicker, they’re sometimes thought of as cups that are more portable. You can move from room to room with them.

Coffee cups, however, are thought of as dishes that you use to drink a beverage from in one sitting.

Because coffee cups are thinner and have wider openings, they help drinks cool down more quickly. Coffee mugs keep drinks warm for longer.

Coffee Mug vs Coffee Cup

Saucer

Coffee cups are usually part of a set that includes a saucer. Saucers can act as a coaster. They also make it easier to carry a coffee cup from place to place if necessary.

Saucers can also help you maintain a drink’s temperature. For example, if you want to keep your drink warm, you can place the saucer upside down over the drink to keep the heat in.

If you want to cool your drink, it’s acceptable to tip out a small amount of your drink into the saucer, which helps it cool faster. You can also spoon a bit of the drink into the saucer.

Once the liquid has cooled in the saucer, you can add it back to your drink, which will help to bring the overall temperature down.

Saucers aren’t usually used with mugs.

white coffee cup and saucer

Drink Types

Coffee mugs and cups are, as the names suggest, often used for coffee, but each dish was designed for a specific type of coffee, and these mugs or cups can also hold other drinks.

Mugs are often used for regular coffee, such as coffee that’s poured directly from the pot into the mug and then has milk or sugar added by the person who will drink the coffee.

They’re also popular for drinks like hot chocolate. Many people also use coffee mugs for tea that’s brewed with a teabag.

Coffee cups are often used for smaller, more concentrated coffee drinks, such as espresso.

They’re also popular for drinks such as cappuccinos that might incorporate milk or foam art at the top, as the wider cup allows for more design options.

Coffee cups are also often used for tea, particularly tea that has been brewed in a pot.

espresso in clear mug

Setting

Many people consider coffee cups to be slightly fancier than coffee mugs, which are sometimes considered to be utilitarian.

Coffee cups are often the choice for cafes or restaurants, while mugs are sometimes considered to be dishes for the home.

Decoration

Coffee cups and mugs can be found in a wide variety of patterns and colors, and there are no rules regarding how either can be decorated.

However, in general, coffee cups tend to have small, delicate patterns, often featuring floral or pastoral designs. Coffee mugs, on the other hand, are often a way for people to express themselves.

decorative coffee cup

A mug might be a solid color or have a decorative design or picture. Because they’re larger, the decorations on a mug can often be more elaborate than those on a cup.

Coffee mugs are also often used as memorabilia, and they might display the name or logo of a college, sports team, or a landmark someone has visited.

Coffee mugs sometimes have words or phrases printed on them, while coffee cups rarely have words on them.

There are, however, always exceptions when it comes to design.

white coffee mug with writing

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