Sarah Whyte, Alana Schetzer

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Smaller coffee cups but same price?

Antony Kaplan from Panana House in Bondi explains why baristas are starting to use the new smaller 220 millilitre cups for takeaway coffees.

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Baristas call it a better flavour. Consumers might call it a ripoff.

Takeaway coffee cups are shrinking in size yet remain the same price, with the inevitable rising price of coffee beans and a desire to replicate dining-in cup sizes behind the change.

In Australia, the standard dining-in coffee cup is about 180 millilitres and the takeaway size is about 240 millilitres. The discrepancy means a takeaway coffee often includes more milk, diluting the espresso's intensity.

Michael Allen manager of Plantation coffee store at Melbourne Central on Sunday 22 September 2013.
All about the flavour: Plantation's Michael Allen. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Melbourne Central's Plantation is one of the first local outlets to introduce the smaller size, with manager Michael Allen saying it maintains the flavour's integrity.

''A lot of people are taken aback at first but they're quite happy when we explain that it's the same size as when they dine in. If it became more mainstream, people wouldn't be so hesitant.''

Bondi cafe Panama House is trialling the smaller cup with mixed results. ''Inevitably, there are some people who look at it in volume as opposed to flavour, but it's the same amount of coffee that people have been used to, just with less milk,'' owner Anthony Kaplan said.

Consumers paying the same for less is not a new phenomenon; for years, food and beverage companies have cut the size of their products in a bid to boost profits without increasing prices.

Cafes have acknowledged the change is unpopular with consumers but many baristas have expressed a desire to see the smaller size rolled out across the industry.

Mark Free, co-owner of Collingwood speciality cafe Everyday Coffee, said smaller sizes would be better for farmers and small-business owners struggling with increasing costs.

''It's really unsustainable; prices of green beans have gone up but retail prices have remained static. If people don't want to be paying more for their coffee, we'll just have to start giving them less coffee for the same price,'' he said.

Award winning cafe Auction Rooms considered introducing smaller sizes but head barista Devin Loong believes Melburnians ''weren't ready'' for it yet.

With Sarah Whyte