I tweeted this last week. It was a bit of a ‘subtle’ dig at the high street coffee chains and their ever-growing cup sizes and I got quite a good response from it. This got me thinking about what these bigger cup sizes actually mean to the coffee industry? Is there a danger that the brands that we can thank for introducing espresso-based coffees to everyday life, are also burying the true taste of the actual espresso in a massive cup?

Walking down the high street, or most other streets for that matter, you will find most of the coffee chains offering their drinks in the following sizes:

Small = 12oz

Medium = 16oz

Large = 20oz

Now 16oz is a fair bit of coffee, but 20oz is a pint and a pint of coffee is a lot of coffee. There’s obviously a demand for these over-sized cups, though. So much so that Starbucks recently brought out a 31oz cup to satisfy those for whom a pint of coffee just isn’t enough. Could the morning coffee give a new meaning to binge drinking? This video would suggest so.

So why do people want such large servings of coffee? Is it the need for extra caffeine? Is it the feeling of getting more for your money? Is it just that in modern society bigger is better no matter what?

Whatever the answer may be, it does seem to be a bit of a worrying trend for those who truly care about creating and drinking a good quality coffee. In my opinion, a large coffee is a compromised coffee…the taste of coffee is drowned out, there’s a load more room for error, and by the time you get to the bottom of the cup, your palate will be deadened and the fresh coffee won’t be that fresh or warm.

Luckily there are quality focused, independent cafes that have resisted this move towards the massive. Good cafes tend to use smaller cups (6-8oz) allowing them to concentrate on making the perfect cup of coffee. And if you finish your coffee and need more, the independent cafes usually charge less so you should be able to afford to go back up to the counter and get another one, freshly prepared.

Don’t get me wrong, getting your coffee from a high street chain is a step in the right direction towards good coffee, but I would suggest going a step further and seeking out an independent place with a true passion for quality coffee with baristas that care about you enjoying the cup of coffee they serve.

The speciality coffee scene in London keeps getting better and cafes offering great, well-prepared coffee continue to pop up around the UK and I don’t want anyone to miss out on the joy of a fantastic coffee served in a reasonable cup.

In fact, we’re thinking of starting a bit of a movement, encouraging folk to exchange their big chain coffees for something a bit more special, made with real skill and a love for coffee. We want to call on the coffee chain regulars to try a good independent who are passionate about the coffee they serve you. The large chain won’t notice you not turning up but the independent will be delighted to see you!

If you are having trouble locating a good place, get in touch and we’ll point you in the right direction. If you’re already a patron of a brilliant café, let us know about it in the comments below or on Twitter so we can pass the knowledge on.

Let’s start drinking out of sensible cups and enjoying coffee as it should be.


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