Secret Life of Antiques | DELIGHTFUL DEMITASSE

Small petite wonders of beautiful porcelain, demitasse {pronounced-“dem-i-tas”} cups originated in mid 19th century France to serve strong Turkish coffee after dinner.  The French word “demitasse” translates into half cup, which is exactly what these diminutive cups are.

Fashionable hosts and hostesses liked to serve small cups of {very strong} coffee after dinner in delicate, beautifully made petite cups and saucers.  These little jolts of caffeine were intended to show that the host or hostess was not only fashionable, but able to afford the best coffee.

And…the side benefit was that it signaled to the guests that it was time to “wake up” for an evening of music, card games and other amusements to come.


Silversmiths even produced small-sized spoons to stir in little lumps of sugar and/or cream to go with these small demitasse sets, most often these were quite grand and elaborate.

The porcelain demi tasse cups and saucers were not part of the extensive dinner services used by well-to-do hostesses. Instead, they were supposed to be “special”, a little more ornate, colorful and fun than the dinner service, a way to really show personal taste and personality at the table.

Demitasse cups are meant to be a little flamboyant, they are statement makers!

These days, collectors love to assemble a collection filled with one-of-a-kind demitasse cups, one a little more flashier than the next.  Demitasse cups are a little quirky! That’s what we collectors adore about them. Their mix-and-match capability make them the less serious party guests of the table-setting.

Some collectors place these prized possessions in a cabinet, and don’t use them. But you can!

After dinner, serving a tiny cup of coffee to go along with the delicious dessert course is quite au courant.

Or you can do what the fashionable hostesses did in the 1800’s and serve the tiny cups of caffeine after the dessert course, in the drawing room.

No matter when you serve it, giving each guest their own, individual cup which is completely different from all the other cups on the table is a total conversation starter!

Each demitasse will have its own stories to tell, its own personality, and it’s own lively pattern. What better {and witty!} way to end a successful dinner party?


1. Select cups for their quality. As much as you can, buy the best possible porcelain cups within your budget. The luxury makers of porcelain all made demitasse sets, Limoges, Minton, Royal Crown Derby, Dresden, Rosenthal and more. It’s better to begin your collection with one, and then perhaps add one special demitasse set for each birthday or holiday.

2. Select cups that are marked.  Again, the high quality cups were meant to last for a very long time, and they have. The hand painted good ones are all signed on the bottom. Most of the antiques demitasse cups I sell will gladly be at your beck and call for another 100 years!

3. Select cups that you LOVE! These little gems come in such a wide variety of designs, each one more beautiful than the next. Collect the ones that speak to your heart. Perhaps they remind you of your mom, your grandmother, or the colors go with the color scheme in your dining room. Whatever the reason, these are little works of true art. Each was carefully crafted and painted with amazing skill.  There is sure to be one {in my case many more than one!} that you will love and want to adopt.

You can see all the demitasse cups I currently have for sale HERE.

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30 thoughts on “Secret Life of Antiques | DELIGHTFUL DEMITASSE”

  1. Jeanine

    Lovely! I set favorites out just to see all day long.

  2. Charlotte

    So pretty.The vintage Adderly Chintz cup was beautiful. I may have to start another collection. Thank you.

  3. These are just gorgeous! Each really is a work of art.
    When I moved to Europe, I noticed the tiny spoons and lusted after a set. I got some very beautiful ones in Bordeaux, with grape clusters at the end. They make me smile every time I use them.

  4. For years I saw French Garden House ads in my favorite magazines selling all things French. Of course I drolled over each piece wishing for many of the pieces you showed. When I finally found your blog, i’m not a techie, I immediatly subscribed and look forward to each and every one. The demitasse cups you are showing today are one of my favorites. There is something so special about serving deep dark coffee in beautiful hand pained tiny cups. For myself it’s like bringing my childhood play time to life. It’s so sweet to escape from all the stuff going on in our world to a place of calm and beauty. You are a blessing to all who chose to play in your world for a few minutes of our day.

  5. Peggy Cooper

    Thank you for teaching me so much about French customs. The demitasse cups are beautiful!

  6. Carole Shiles

    Some lovely demitasse designs. Another collection to start. I think I would use them during dinner parties for their beauty and to signal moving on to fun.

  7. Oh I am so glad that you did not ask us what our favorite was as I do not think i could decide as they are all so exquisite. I have seen many demitasse cups in estate sales and now I am going to take closer looks! I can always count on getting the best information on any subject here. Oh those definitely were the days of sheer elegance and appreciation for beauty in all its forms.

  8. Everything tastes better when served in fine china. It simply elevates the experience. I am constantly delighted that even at the airport in Italy, you can still savor a cup of espresso from a small porcelain cup.

  9. I agree! And yes, I love that about the airports in most European cities {although here in the states too!} that you can still get a good coffee in a real cup.

  10. chardonnaylynn

    When my mother passed I inherited her demitasse collection. I love each and every one of them!

  11. I have collected English tea cups for years. My tea just tastes better when I use them. Why I never thought to collect Demitasse cups before, I can’t imagine. I’m sure my morning coffee will be much better as I start collection a few of these cups too. Presentation at it’s finest. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I love my special tea cups,that were given to me as engagement presents. My mother n law had a beautiful collection that I now have. She always got them out when company would come for coffee. Special memories!

  13. Sally Schmidt

    I love all my coffee mugs, but sometimes I just want a pretty little cup and saucer. Beautiful pictures.

  14. They are, aren’t they? Yet surprisingly sturdy enough that most have survived over 100 years!

  15. Sherry B

    I am blessed to have my grandmothers collection of demitasse and tea cups and saucers. I display them and love to remember her and can picture them in her home. Thank you for the chance to win the giveaway, perfect for summer!

    1. What a special inheritance, Sherry! I love it when our treasures hold such dear memories.

  16. Sally Hamana

    Living in South Louisiana, the opportunity to break out one’s demitasse cups is fairly often. Thanks so much for featuring them here.

  17. Denise

    Lidy ,
    the blogs you post are so great to read and the photos are fabulous. I love, love, the demitasse cups, so fun to collect! You have such great style and I always learn new things. Thank you please enter me into the drawing.
    Thanks, Denise

  18. Gloria

    The demitasse cups are beautiful . I have a pair that my mother gave me forty five years ago. I love them dearly.
    ,The Bohemia Hand Gilt cup is outstanding.

  19. These cups are gorgeous. They are an elegant addition to any household and you would feel like a duchess using them every day.

  20. Norman

    Love the way you have displayed these lovely cups and saucers. I have traveled around the world and have a wonderful collection myself and glad to enjoy and sharing with fellow collectors.

    p.s. Are many of these for sale?

    1. Norman, you must have a lovely collection. Yes, many of the cups were, or are, available at our online shop.

  21. Charis Boissevain

    Thank you for sharing your magical cups. They are truly beautiful. My parents had a lovely collection & I have started one for my children.
    Best, Charis Boissevain

    1. Charis, what a wonderful legacy of beautiful cups! I love that you have started a collection of cups for your children, that is such a wonderful idea! I got my love of beautiful cups from my European grandparents, the memories of my grandmother’s beautiful collection still warms my heart. I thought they were magical when I was a little girl, her antiques are one of the reasons I began selling antiques at our FrenchGardenHouse shop.

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