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What the Difference Between a Cup and a Mug Is

We use cups and mugs to hold hot beverages, such as hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. Although both words are used to serve the same purpose, they are, in fact, very different. In this article, 5-Minute Crafts will explain the main differences between cups and mugs, along with some tips on how to clean coffee stains easily.


A mug is tall, thick, large, cylindrical, and sturdy drinkware with straight sides to hold hot liquids like tea or coffee. It might not have a handle or a saucer. The word might have originated from Scandinavia; it’s known as ’’mugg’’ in Swedish and ’’mugge’’ in Norwegian and Danish.

  • They generally have the same width on the top and the bottom, providing plenty of space for large amounts of drinks. While holding them, you can keep your hands warm too thanks to their oversized handles.
  • They’re heat-resistant and made from ceramic, porcelain, steel, hard glass, etc.
  • They come in different varieties, like a travel mug, generally used by those on the go.


A cup is a small, round, fragile container to hold hot liquids like tea, coffee, etc.

  • They’re short and wide, narrowing down from top to bottom. The diameter of the brim is greater than the diameter of the base and wider than the height.
  • A cup works well if you want to stay in a particular place to enjoy your coffee in small quantities. They have small, thin handles that you can hold using 2 or 3 fingers.
  • It usually comes with a handle and a saucer (a small plate), making it easy to carry when placed beneath the cup. When on top of the cup, you can keep your coffee hot for longer.
  • They’re heat-resistant and come in ceramic, porcelain, steel, or hard glass, like mugs.

How their sizes differ

Sometimes, in some recipes, you may also hear ’’a cup’’ as a measuring unit. Please note that a mug, a coffee cup, or a teacup isn’t the same as a measuring cup.

  • A standard (classic) coffee mug takes about 8 fluid ounces (~240 ml) in the US. It has larger sizes up to nearly 12 fluid ounces (~350 milliliters). An extra-large mug (jumbo) can take 20-25 fluid ounces.
  • standard coffee cup has almost the same size as a standard cappuccino cup, which measures 6 fluid ounces (180 milliliters).

Bonus: how to clean coffee stains

Oftentimes, the coffee or tea stains in your porcelain cups or mugs don’t come out quickly by washing them in the dishwasher or by hand. But you don’t need to worry because there are a few methods to make your mugs look brand new again.

  • Use half vinegar and half boiling water. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Next, scrub it using a sponge, then rinse.
  • Use a lemon wedge. Cut a wedge of lemon and start rubbing your mug very well with it. Then wash it.
  • Use baking soda. First, prepare a thick paste using some tap water and baking soda. Next, start cleaning your mug with a scrubby sponge and paste. Then rinse it. Note that you can prepare the paste in the mug too.
Preview photo credit Unsplash, Unsplash
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