How Many Ounces in a Cup of Coffee? (Explained)

How Many Ounces in a Cup of Coffee?

Does your carafe coffee maker yield fewer cups when you drink from a ‘regular’ cup? Coffee makers such as Chemex, French press, Cuisinart, and Black and Decker have carafes that are measured by the number of coffee cups that you can brew in one cycle.

Similarly, some coffee-making recipes indicate a certain amount of ground coffee per cup of coffee. But what is the size of a coffee cup or how many ounces does a cup of coffee hold?

How many ounces in a cup of coffee?

In the US, a cup of coffee usually measures 4-6 fluid ounces or 118-177ml. In fact, most popular carafe coffee makers use 5fl oz cups to size their carafes. For example, a 12-cup Cuisinart coffee carafe holds 12 five-ounce cups of coffee. However, most people prefer bigger cups for their coffee.

Understanding the Size of Your Coffee Carafe (How Many Ounces Per Cup)

Coffee carafes come in different sizes and are usually calibrated using the number of coffee cups that they can hold. For example, Chemex carafes are available in 3-cup, 6-cup, 8-cup, 10-cup, and 13-cup sizes.

For most carafes especially glass carafes, the cup measurements are on the wall of the carafe. However, information about the volumetric size of a single cup is hard to find.

In the cases where the manufacturer has indicated the volumetric size of the carafe, you can divide the total volume by the total number of cups that the carafe can hold to find the size of a single cup.

For example, for a 12-cup carafe that measures 60fl oz, divide 60 by 12 to find that the carafe is measured using a 5oz cup.

If your coffee maker only provides information about the number of cups that the carafe can hold, you may use a measuring cup to establish the total volume of the carafe in ounces or liters.

Here is a table showing the ounces per cup in popular carafe coffee makers.

Carafe Coffee Maker BrandOunces per Cup
Black and Decker4
Hamilton Beach5
Mr. Coffee5
Technivorm Moccamaster4
Oxo Brew5
Bodum Pour-over4
Bodum French Press4
A chart showing the ounces per coffee cup when sizing coffee carafes

Single-serve coffee makers pose no ambiguity as to the cup size as there is usually a function to select the desired size. However, the smallest single cup size option on most single-serve brands is 6oz which further cements the view that most people prefer bigger cups of coffee.

Some can brew a travel mug size in one cycle. Single-serve coffee makers that do not have a specific travel mug brewing option such as Keurig are capable of brewing successive single cups to fill a travel mug.

Why it is Important to Know the Capacity of a Coffee Carafe

The capacity of a coffee maker vis-à-vis the number of people who will be drinking the coffee and the size of cups to be used is an important factor to consider when buying a coffee maker or when brewing the coffee.

From the chart above, it is evident that coffee carafes are measured using smaller cups than what most people use. Consequently, when using bigger mugs such as 10oz mugs, a 12 cup coffee maker will yield 5 cups only.

Similarly, brewing two cups in a carafe that is measured using 4oz cups will not fill a 10oz mug.

What Coffee Cup Size Do Most People Prefer?

A 2020 study found that over 50 percent of the coffee drinkers in the US drink coffee in 12-16oz cups.

Let’s face it, coffee cup sizes below 8 fl oz are too small for most people. Americans, in particular, prefer coffee mugs that are bigger and informal. Even fast-food coffee brands such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts do not have coffee cups smaller than 8oz and 12oz respectively, apart from the tiny espresso cups.

Around the world, coffee cups vary in size depending on the region and culture. For example, in the Balkans, Middle East, and Ethiopia, coffee was served in small 2-3 ounce cups. A standard dine-in coffee cup in the UK is 200ml and 160- 200ml in Australia.

However, with the fast-food coffee culture which uses large mugs spreading across the world, bigger American-style mugs have been adopted in numerous countries.

Cooking cups also vary in size from country to country. A regular cup in America, for instance, is 8fl oz (240ml) whereas, in Japan, a regular cup is 6.7fl oz (200ml) and 8.4fl oz (250ml) in Australia.

Here is an article that discusses the best coffee mug materials including the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

Why Is a Cup of Coffee Defined as Six Ounces?

The National Coffee Association recommends a coffee ratio of one to two tablespoons of grinds per six ounces of water for the perfect brew. Consequently, some coffee recipes wrongly translate the recommended coffee ratio to one or two tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup of coffee instead of per 6-ounce cup of water.

You are likely to find these brewing guides when you purchase pre ground coffee.

The amount of coffee yield is likely to be less than the water input as some water is absorbed by the coffee grounds. Some coffee brewing methods may also experience higher rates of evaporation than others.

Wrap up

On average, there are 4-6 fluid ounces in a cup of coffee, by American standards. Coffee carafes are usually calibrated using 4-6oz cups. However, most people drink their coffee from bigger cups with over 50 percent of American coffee lovers preferring 12-16oz mugs.

When brewing coffee with a carafe coffee maker, you may want to consider the size of your cup to avoid brewing a half cup.


Patrick is first a coffee lover and then a trained barista. His bucket list includes sky diving and sipping on Java in the Himalayas.

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