Small cups of coffee in Europe

I’ve never been to Europe (sob) but I do watch some TV programs that are made in Europe, mostly France and Italy, and I noticed that coffee is invariably served in small cups that are, perhaps, 6 ounces (180 mls) or less. This isn’t espresso or anything like that, just ordinary brewed coffee. They go through the whole adding-sugar-and-stirring ritual, and then have about two or three swallows of coffee.

(Caveat to the question that follows: I don’t drink coffee myself, I don’t like it, so if the coffee drinking experience is a significant part of the answer, please explain it to me like I was 5 years old).

Here in the land of 24-oz cups of coffee from Starbucks and Peet’s, this seems odd to me. Does it come from just habit, or does it make the experience more pleasurable to have it over sooner? Or is European coffee so strong that no-one can drink more than 6 ounces at a time?

I ask because I am curious, and because I think this may be a source of significant insight into European (at least French and Italian) character.

In general Europe has not yet been supersized. The average cold drink is also 8-12 ounces also. Just flash back to our 1960s and 70s.

When I was in Europe in the '80s, refills were not free. The cups were small, in my opinion. OTOH, even here in the U.S., a ‘cup’ of coffee is six ounces. My ‘12-cup’ coffee maker does not fill my cup 12 times.

The one exception I can think of was at Ofvandahl’s pastry shop in Uppsala, SE. There, we got a French press full of coffee.

In my opinion, European coffee was far superior to American coffee. But this was 30 years ago when the choices here were basically MJB, Folgers, etc. Nowadays I doubt coffee in Europe is better than what we get here. (FWIW, I order Dark Roast from Community Coffee in New Orleans. Or I get French Roast from Trader Joe’s if I forget to order.)

Everytime I’ve ordered coffee in Europe – at least continental Europe – I get Espresso. So that explains the small cups.

…and if they know you are American, they serve it with a small bottle of hot water so you can dilute it, if you wish.

Cups may be smaller, but they contain the same amount(if not more) of coffee, we just use less water. :wink:

I’ll never forget traipsing around Rome, cursing the tiny, bitter cups of coffee they serve, and then suddenly turning a corner and seeing a Dunkin’ Donuts store! I heard angels sing and a shaft of light beamed down on me from Heaven. Fortunately, it was only a block from my hotel, so it became my first stop every morning: 24 ounces of piping hot bliss!

If it’s not espresso it could be “Turkish” coffee

You heat up a container with powder coffee in it and then pour over boiling water. It’s quite strong and you only need a cup or two.

Is this something that would be an every-day brew for ordinary people?

I ask because, in these TV programs I watch, every single time someone gets coffee, whether in a cafe, restaurant, or in someone’s home, it is always served in nice little china cups, and people rarely get a refill. They never show the actual brewing of the coffee, so I can’t tell how it’s made.

geez, Roddy, I hope someone knows the answer to this because I want to know, too.

I think you will find that espresso [rather than Turkish] is really common throughout Europe and Australia, it is simple to make and is like comparing tang to pure orange juice. I drink espresso almost 100% of the time, at work we have an espresso machine and at home as well. We even have a small battery one for camping.

If I want a big tall warm milk drink I can always wander down to Starbucks, but that ain’t proper coffee :wink:

Even in the '70s I drank coffee out of a decent-sized cup…

In Europe, espresso is the norm. Drip coffee is basically unheard of, except at American chains. Even places catering to Americans with usually just have “Americano” - espresso topped up with water – not drip coffee.

BTW, the little minimugs they serve espresso or Turkish coffee in, are sometimes called “demitasse”. It’s French for “half-cup.” Yes, sizes of beverages are smaller, but in France at least, the traditional espresso cup is still considered half-sized.

Yeah that gels with my Melbourne Australia experience, starbucks etc do an espresso and top up with water or milk. Melbourne Australia has a large Italian population and as such we have had proper coffee for a long time.

When we have corporate functions we often get served filter coffee, it is rarely drunk. Someone takes the order and pops down to a local cafe for espressos.

I have two coffee cup sizes, demi for espresso or machiatto and a larger one for a latte. More often than not lattes come in a glass.

That’s not really true, but it depends on the country. Filter coffee is what lots of people drink at home, and while espresso machines may be becoming more common in northern Europe, filter coffee in cafes has been around for much longer than Starbucks. You don’t get these big 20oz coffees in Europe though (except perhaps in places like Starbucks) - people would find them watery and flavourless.

What you need to know though is that no one makes coffee like the Italians - obviously this is subjective, but I’ve heard lots of people say the same thing. In Italy you can be in some backwoods village that few other tourists will ever see, go into some dusty little cafe and be served an espresso, cappuccino or latte that is better than what you will get anywhere in Britain, France or Spain (in my experience). It’s actually mystifying - places in Britain will have the same brand of machines, the same brand of coffee, but it just doesn’t taste as good.

When you ask for a cappuccino, they make the frothy milk and pour it into a small cup and then pour the espresso on top of that (they would never sell a double cap). I much preferred these small cappuccinos to the ones you get in other countries that have way too much milk so you can’t taste the coffee, unless you have more than one shot, and you end up feeling bloated.

Italians have a big thing about moderation - they don’t tend to binge alcohol the way north Europeans do, and I think they might feel the same about coffee.

As it happens espresso and similar kinds of coffee contains less caffeine than plain brewed coffee.

If “plain brewed coffee” is supposed to mean “drip coffee”: it does not do so in most of Europe, we call those Americano or “from an American coffeemaker” (when being polite).
Nava, whose father’s Melitta-brewed coffee had a Reputation (a one liter thermos was enough for a 22-people meeting and we’d get it back with coffee still in).

Coffee in Poland at home would often be served “Turkish style.” My mom still makes it that way in the US. In other words, it’s very finely ground (finer than espresso), and then just added directly to the cup (usually about 6 oz) to steep. The fine grounds settle down, and you drink it like a normal Turkish coffee, stopping when you get to the coffee sludge at the bottom. (This technique is different than the true Turkish style of making coffee.) This may not be as common as it once was. I remember it being common in the communist days even in restaurants, but times have changed.

I’ll clarify a bit. Per unit volume, espresso has much more caffeine than coffee, but per standard serving size, less, given than an espresso is usually a 1 oz serving, and drip coffee is 6 oz and up. The amounts vary, but espresso is generally around 50mg caffeine per fluid ounce, and drip coffee is around 20mg per fluid ounce.

My parents used to drink coffee twice a day, in the morning and late afternoon. We did not have a filtered coffee device so this was the only type of coffee in our household for decades.

The process of making starts with a fresh fine grind of coffee in a grinder like this - Goes without saying that it’s a manual work.

Then you use an individually sized copper alloy container called “ibrik” (on this picture with a handle ) where you put three teaspoons of finely grind coffee. The three teaspoons correspond to three cups of coffee you will get from “ibrik”. Let it be known that the third cup is hard-core as it will probably include coffee grind that settled at the bottom of “ibrik”.

Before you pour boiling water, you first hold “ibrik” with coffee inside over heat for a short time for coffee to warm up a bit – some even go until it starts emitting brewed coffee aroma. Right at that moment you take “ibrik” away from heat, pour in boiling water and to finish it off you put again on heat a bit so it steeps and bubbles and right before it will swell over the “ibrik” edge you take it away.

Ready to be served.

Sounds complicated and to tell you the truth, some skill is required to make it real good every time. However, over time it becomes a habit so you forget that it involves manual effort.

Traditionally, you don’t put sugar because dosage is so individual you use sugar cubes and do it like this -

On special occasions you serve with a cake or something -