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The French term “demitasse” originated in France and translates to “half cup”. Their original intended use was for drinking strong espresso coffee after a meal. Espresso, although recognized as an integral part of Italian life actually originated in France in 1822. The French invented the espresso machine, but the Italians perfected it into what it is today and it continues to play an important role in daily life.

A Royal Albert Flower of the Month March regular sized teacup and saucer sit beside a demitasse cup and saucer of the same pattern to show the size difference.
What is a Demitasse Cup?
A Royal Albert Standard Size Teacup Versus A Demitasse Size Cup

Demitasse or Chocolate Cup?

Demitasse cups come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are often confused with chocolate cups or miniatures. Chocolate sets were also a French innovation and very popular during the eighteenth century. They were usually larger and taller than coffee cups, some had two handles and a cover. A chocolate pot, also known as a chocolatiere, looked much like a coffee pot as well.

A German chocolate set sits on a tray and shows that chocolate cups are slightly taller and slimmer than demitasse cups
A German chocolate set includes taller more slender cups

An Exotic Treat

When Louis XIII married Anne of Austria in 1615, the queen’s enthusiasm for chocolate spread to the French aristocracy. During that early modern period, the French had refined the dining experience to the point of extravagance. In that spirit, they crafted the chocolatière, a vessel uniquely suited to preparing chocolate. Chocolate pots were crafted from either silver or porcelain, the two most valuable materials at the time and chocolate was considered exotic and expensive.

What is a Demitasse Cup?
A Limoges Chocolate Pot

Are Demitasse Cups Miniatures?

There is a certain criterion for a demitasse to be considered a demitasse and not a miniature or a child’s tea set. Although demitasse cups are ideal for little hands, a demitasse cup is half of a regular cup. The typical teacup measures 3-4 inches in diameter depending on the shape and a demitasse would be approximately half of that or 2.5 inches by 2. 5 inches. The saucer is typically in the vicinity of 4 inches in diameter.

Espresso Cups

Espresso cups are most often can-shaped with straight sides and hold approximately 2 ounces of espresso or Turkish coffee. They differ slightly in shape from the English demitasse cups shown above.

What is a Demitasse Cup?
An Aynsley Can Shaped Demitasse Cup And Saucer

Do you have demitasse cups in your collection? Leave us a comment below and don’t forget to enter our contest to win the beautiful Windsor teacup we are giving away for March. The contest ends March 24th at 12:00 AM, it is open to everyone. Please see the complete rules here.

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