Why Are Coffee Straws So Small? (It Makes No Sense!)

I thought I’d shrunk the other day when a barista gave me the smallest coffee straw I’d ever seen. It was like Gulliver’s travels when he goes to Lilliput. So why are they so small? 🙂

The typical coffee straw has a diameter of just ⅛”, and is between 5” and 7.5” long. Small coffee straws are actually for stirring your coffee, but you can drink with them too. Coffee straws are also small so they can go in coffee cocktail glasses, and so they can be stored in bulk in coffee shops.

Let’s dive down into the topic of small coffee straws in greater detail, and find out why they’re small, what they’re for, how to use them, and if you can use anything else…

Why Are Coffee Straws So Small?

What Are the Small Coffee Straws For?

Has the barista given you one of those crazily small straws with your coffee? Don’t be alarmed  – you’re not suddenly expected to drink coffee like you’re a toddler with juice.

The small coffee straws are actually for stirring your brew (although nobody will judge you if you decide to sip your drink).

The straw design is actually better for stirring coffee than the old-fashioned sticks, and they’re cheaper / more environmentally friendly to make. We’ll take a closer look at this now.

Why Do Coffee Straws Have Two Holes? (Why Are They Hollow?)

Coffee stirrers are hollow, like straws, for several reasons.

Firstly, they are cheaper to make than the old-fashioned, solid stirrers. They use less plastic, so as well as keeping manufacturing and wholesale costs down, they’re also better for the environment. If you must have single-use items, straws are better than sticks.

Coffee shops and bars buy in bulk. These can actually be used as cocktail straws as well as coffee stirrers, saving purchasing costs and some storage space.

Also, some people do like to drink coffee with a small straw, and by offering straws rather than sticks, the coffee shop is giving them this option.

What Size Are Coffee Straws?

The typical coffee straw has a diameter of just ⅛”. Typical lengths are between 5” and 7.5”. They come in large boxes of around 1,000 straws, and you can pick up some great colors. 

What Size Are Coffee Straws?
What Size Are Coffee Straws?

What Are Coffee Stir Sticks Called?

There are various names for coffee stir sticks, including, well,  “coffee stir sticks”. They’re also known as stirrers, coffee stirrers, sticks, swizzle sticks, and wooden sticks.

If we’re talking about the straw-like, hollow design, they’re usually called coffee straws, sip straws, coffee sip straws, or cocktail straws.

How Do You Use Coffee Stir Sticks?

The main function of a coffee stick is to stir your drink. If you like to add milk, cream, or sugar to your coffee, you’ll need to stir it in so everything mixes in.

Whether you’re spicing up your coffee with cinnamon or a shot of something extra warming, you’ll need to give it a good stir.

Coffee aficionados say that you should stir your coffee before drinking it anyway, as the extraction process can “layer” the flavors.

While most of us would never notice this nuance, it’s still good to follow the experts: even if you take your coffee black, give it a quick stir with your coffee stick or straw before enjoying its rich flavor.

Can You Drink Hot Coffee Through a Straw?

You can actually use your coffee straw as a straw as well as a stirrer. Although most of us don’t take our hot drinks through a straw, it can actually be a really good way to drink them.

By creating a surface area for the hot liquid to come into contact with, the straw dissipates some of that heat. By the time the coffee reaches your lips, it’s cooler. 

This is why coffee straws have a smaller diameter than conventional straws: they need to simulate a sip. Nobody wants to take a massive gulp of hot liquid through a straw designed for a cool cola or juice.

Many people experience difficulties drinking from conventional cups, so straws can be really beneficial. Dentists sometimes recommend straws, because straws move the liquid away from your front teeth, unlike sipping, which can help to cut down on staining and contact with harmful sugar.

Coffee straws double as cocktail straws in many bars, as their shorter length makes them perfect for many styles of cocktail glass. Of course, you can combine both beverages to create coffee cocktails, so the versatile straw can fulfill both its destinies at once…

Can You Drink Hot Coffee Through a Metal Straw?

We’re big fans of metal straws here – they’re reusable, hygienic, and easy to look after. However, when it comes to drinking hot beverages through metal straws, they’re a definite no-no.

As we mentioned earlier, the straw creates a surface area for the coffee to pass through. In the case of a cool plastic straw, this dissipates the heat and makes the liquid a bit cooler before it reaches your mouth.

Yes, a metal straw also provides a surface, but this is a hot one. Metal is a conductor, so not only will it keep your coffee super-hot, but the straw will actually become really hot itself.

The unwitting drinker will end up with sore lips and fingers if they use a metal straw with a fresh coffee (or any other hot drink like tea or chocolate).

If you like an iced coffee, a metal straw is perfect. It stays nice and cool in your drink, and sipping icey drinks slowly through a straw can help prevent that uncomfortable brain freeze sensation.

Can You Drink Coffee Through a Silicone Straw?

And now we come to the middle way: the silicone straw. These straws are reusable and can be easily washed, like metal straws. Unlike metal straws, you can use them with hot drinks without scolding your lips or burning your fingers.

Many people have to use straws when they drink, for various reasons. Silicone straws are a versatile choice, because they can be used with any drink, and you don’t have to keep buying expensive (and not very eco) disposable straws.

If you’re a coffee purist, you’d probably rather avoid silicone. Once silicone gets hold of a strong taste, it’s reluctant to let go of it, and over time, the straw might pick up a distinct “flavor” of its own.

If this happens, it’s time to move on to a new straw. And don’t worry: there are lots of ways that you can reuse old plastic straws, which can also apply to retired silicone ones.

There is another alternative: glass straws. Again, they’re reusable and easy to keep hygienic, and they can be used in hot drinks.

They’re not as easy to get hold of, and coffee shops don’t tend to supply them. If you love using these, you’ll need to pick up a special drinking straw travel case (yes, these are a thing) and take your glass straw with you.

Final Words On Those Little Coffee Straws

The long and (very) short of this, is that those little coffee straws are meant to be for stirring your drink.

However, you can sip your coffee with them too if you like – and if you want to feel like a weird giant holding a tiny straw between your fingers.

Just give me a bigger straw already! 🙂