Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ph: Mugging It

Weird Science at project hampden.

Ceramic wares for coffee have always been a bit of a problem for me. In spite of the large industry surrounding the coffee world, I find it quite difficult to find really great ceramic cups for coffee service.

Most shops use the "Brown Betty" style espresso and cappuccino cups but to my eye, they're God-awful ugly. Terrakeramik has been making tulip style cups for a couple of years now but at $75 for two, they're prohibitively expensive for service. That is, unless I'm charging French Laundry prices. Sadly, most companies make terrible cups for coffee service. Most of them have poor interior shapes that cause turbulence when pouring or they're just ridiculously large in size. I need a six ounce cappuccino cup, not an 8 ounce sorta shaped like cappuccino cup.

For years, I found respite in the aisles of Ikea where they made very affordable tulip-shaped cups in 2 ounce and 5.5 ounce sizes. Just right for service and competition, but now they're gone and I'm left stuck with nothing.

Ever since my days learning coffee at Hines Public Market Coffee in Seattle, I've been using the ACF La Marzocco branded cups. Those are just right but it's been difficult obtaining more of them and my entire inventory of those is either at Towson or in reserve somewhere. My next alternative is to go with a custom cup from a European manufacturer but I'm still not sure of the design and have been putting it off until we get everything just right. I mean why invest in 300 pieces if you're not 100% behind the design?

Meanwhile, I've ordered a bunch of Illy espresso and cappuccino cups. By far, the Illy cappuccino cups are my favorite. At six ounces with the sloped bowl, they're perfect. Too bad they have the Illy logo on them. The espresso cups aren't bad either.

The real problem comes when you're specifying larger sizes. Because of the trend towards sizes 16 ounces or greater, finding a decent 12 ounce cup for brewed coffee and lattes has been a challenge. But I did find a cup that fits the size requirement and has a pleasing shape. I ordered 48 of these cups in our new Caffeine Molecule design commemorating the opening of project hampden as Spro Hampden. As we transition to a new logo and new look, this will most probably be the very last item we make with the classic logo style.

Now, if we can only get them to work properly!