Different surface sites of solid catalysts are usually quantified by dedicated chemisorption techniques from the adsorption capacity of probe molecules, assuming they specifically react with unique sites. In case of methanol synthesis catalysts, the Cu surface area is one of the crucial parameters in catalyst design and was for over 25 years commonly determined using diluted N2O. To disentangle the influence of the catalyst components, different model catalysts were prepared and characterized using N2O, temperature programmed desorption of H2, and kinetic experiments. The presence of ZnO dramatically influences the N2O measurements. This effect can be explained by the presence of oxygen defect sites that are generated at the Cu-ZnO interface and can be used to easily quantify the intensity of Cu-Zn interaction. N2O in fact probes the Cu surface plus the oxygen vacancies, whereas the exposed Cu surface area can be accurately determined by H2.