A coffee cup that is described as a 8 ounce (for example) will hold this amount filled to the top of the cup's lip or to some other arbitrary level?

  • Welcome to the site! I think you would get a better answer if you gave more detail. What is calling for a coffee cup, a recipe or some other application? What's the recipe details? Is it US or another country?
    – GdD
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 15:57
  • I've seen cups sold in the EU that have markings inside the rim w/ a line and the volume at that line. (although, typically in L, so likely not your case). In the US, I've never seen such markings, although some plastic cups (the kind you'd get your logo printed on) have a bit of a lip inside the rim which is where the measurement is to.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


I assume you're talking about understanding quoted manufacturer's dimensions of a drinking vessel (and not some measure of what an abstract "coffee cup" might be, as when people talk about a "4-cup" coffee maker or whatever).

To my knowledge, there is no standard at least in the U.S. for these sorts of measurements. My anecdotal experience is that cups and mugs are often slightly larger in capacity than advertised when filled to the brim, probably to take into account people's expectation that they can put a drink of X ounces in a cup made to hold X ounces without spilling it. However, that "error" seems to vary quite a bit. Years ago, I tried filling a few different mugs I had purchased just to get a sense of their accuracy in size. If they were supposed to hold X ounces, some would be full up to within about 1/16th of an inch of the top, while others had a gap of 1/2 inch or more below the lip. (Beyond my own anecdote, I also found more people's anecdotes here describing a similar trend.)

If I recall correctly, for whatever reason, there didn't seem to be as much error with glass measurements as there were with coffee mugs. Particularly if you see a very specific measurement advertised (e.g., "8.6 oz. capacity"), it seems more likely that the measurement is right up to the top. Obviously if you have a cup or glass with a line printed on it, it's generally more accurate. (This is more common in Europe.)

If you're asking about this to use a random cup as a "measuring cup," I wouldn't trust any listed specifications for capacity unless you actually measure the specific cup yourself.

  • Bingo! This is exactly my intended question. What is the manufacturers description or label for a cup size mean. I want a specific size for my morning custom brew from an espresso machine and have been buying "8 ounce cups" thinking they will be this measurement to the lip. Little luck so far. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 17:07

Although the previous answer is "true" and "correct". For me so far, every drinking vessel labeled as 12 or 16 oz or whatever almost always fills just to the brim almost overflowing when I poured a can or bottle of 12 or 16 oz into them.

  • I don't know if this really answers the question. Are you pouring your 12 or 16 oz cans and bottles into 12 or 16 oz coffee cups?
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:40
  • 1
    No, not precisely. I was producing more of an analogous answer based on other beverage glasses.
    – Escoce
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:52

When brewing coffee the cup is measured at 5 ounces. So two cups of water would be 10 ounces,measured in a glass liquid measuring cup.

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