This Is Why Espresso Comes In A Tiny Cup

When you're having a particularly difficult morning and can't seem to fully wake up, sometimes coffee is just not enough. That's when it can feel imperative to have something much stronger, like an espresso. The concentrated brew is different from regular coffee because an espresso machine uses 132 pounds of pressure to extract the coffee versus just using gravity, according to Business Insider. But java drinkers might be wondering why espresso comes in such a small, but charming, little cup. The answer might surprise you.

An ounce, which is equal to one shot, of espresso has 63 milligrams of caffeine, per the Department of Agriculture as reported by Consumer Reports. Coffee, on the other hand, has roughly 12 to 16 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. So technically espresso has more caffeine, but let's be real, nobody stops at an ounce of java. We're likely to have at least 8 ounces of coffee, which ends up being about 95 to 128 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the brand you're drinking. 

How does this explain the jolt we feel when we take a shot of espresso? Stephen Shulman, senior vice president at Lacas/Dallis Bros. Coffee, told Consumer Reports that we probably feel this burst of energy because of how fast we drink it. And the smaller cup means we can consume the caffeine much more quickly.

Why a small cup is perfect for espresso

But that doesn't mean it's a good idea to reach for a giant mug of espresso for a bigger jolt. The truth is, overdoing it on caffeine is just not healthy for you. Consuming 8 or 12 ounces of espresso would completely exceed your maximum suggested intake of roughly 400 milligrams a day (via Mayo Clinic). Possible side effects of too much caffeine include headache, insomnia, and irritability.

It's also a lot of flavor packed into a tiny cup, which is why coffee shops in Italy will often serve a glass of water with it, according to Culture Trip. The petite vessel also helps to keep the perfect layer of crema on the top layer of your espresso, which indicates freshly ground beans and ensures the aromas are locked in (Business Insider). So if you want a perfect jolt of java quickly that also has bold flavors, drinking it out of a mini cup is the right way to do it!