I think my obsession with table wares and kitchen gadgets came from my mother. I remember we never had any matching wares at home because she would couldn’t resist buying up and collecting more and more. Her excuse was “oh it might break later and then we’ll need more anyways” or “we don’t have enough if guests come over” (which never really happened but every once in a blue moon). Hah!
So, I’ve been kind of doing the same thing my whole life, but definitely not on the same scale as her. We have a couple of vintage tea cup and saucer sets as well as coffee mugs and various dish ware by Fire King. I read that in Japan, there is a coffee shop with all sorts of vintage pieces. Not only do they make a cup of coffee exclusively for you, they also make sure they pick the perfect cup to put it in!
So whats the deal with really expensive designer cups? (J: Feel free to read that in Jerry Seinfeld’s voice. I know I did.) I think that professional baristas, as well as home baristas are buying them up because they are a marriage of form and function. They are like pieces of art that you get to enjoy more intimately because well…let’s be honest. You’re basically making out with it.
J: What? You don’t make out with your coffee? Don’t look at me like that. No, I don’t use any tongue. I’m not a weirdo. Coffee is hot. You could burn yourself!
You wouldn’t serve foie gras on a paper plate. It ruins the experience. Shell out a few extra bucks on some decent cups for your coffee. Or don’t. At work, I drink my coffee in a giant Ninja Turtles mug. Why? Two words. Turtle Power.
Here’s a few of the more popular options:
Illy Artist Collection
Straight from the illy eShop: “illy Art Collections are a series of limited edition cups designed by contemporary artists that transform the enjoyment of espresso into an inspirational, multi-sensory experience. More than 70 international artists have contributed, each creating mini masterpieces of beauty to behold.” (Illy eShop) These cups range anywhere from $40 to $225. A work of art in a vessel that is also a work of art!
Used in barista competitions worldwide, these cups are considered to be the crème de la crème of coffee cups. Each are carefully handcrafted and individually signed by master potter and sculptor, Felix Volger. The design is spunky, with nice bright eclectic colors, finished off by a showy, platinum handle and rim. I don’t think this is for everyone though. I think it looks a little outdated and too flashy for my taste. However, baristas swear by its perfect size, thickness and mouth feel as well as heat retention all working together to create the best all-around coffee experience. $40-$45 each
Budget and Space Conscious
World Market – Stacking Mugs and Espresso Cups
Comes in different colors and designs, these cups are a great place to start if you have a limited budget as well as limited space. I have a set of the espresso cups and they have held up really well. The quality is not superb, but they look nice and modern. Overall, you can’t beat the price at $12.99 for a set of 6!
Sur La Table – Café Collection Espresso Cup and Saucer
I bought these in the 2 oz. demitasse and 5 oz. cappuccino. They really caught my eye because of the simple, modern design and solid build weight. I love having heavier porcelain wear. These also retain temperature really well and for the price, its a great place to start a coffee wares collection. $5.95 to $14.95 each
Williams-Sonoma – Brasserie Porcelain Cups and Saucer, Set of 4
Very similar to the Sur La Table one, but this one has a lower-profile saucer. It comes in a convenient set of 4 and is available at almost any mall, but I do prefer the design of the Sur La Table’s. It also comes in 2 other styles, one with a blue and one with red band, all for $59.95. Not bad.
Bodum Glass Double Wall
Bodum has a large assortment of double-walled glassware thats just been really popular over the years. I’ve read that they provide amazing heat retention while still being comfortable to the touch on the outer glass wall. I like that since its clear glass, you can see the different layers of coffee, crema, milk, etc. $15-$25 each
Setting the Standard
Intelligentsia Black Cat Project
These beauties were created after 3 years of collaboration with NotNeutral, an LA based design firm. 3 years! Not only is the design fabulously modern, it is also meticulously designed to meet the strict needs and standards of barista champions around the world. $12-$20 each
notNeutral Lino Collection
notNeutral, in collaboration with world-class baristas, brings you the premier vessels for enjoying everything coffee.
Meticulously designed and tested, the MENO cups achieve a seamless marriage of form and function. The contour of the interior provides optimal fluid dynamics for the perfect pour, while the wide mouth accommodates the drinker’s nose to take in the aroma. The base is thick to retain heat, while the rim has an elegant mouth feel. The graceful profile of MENO is comfortable to grip and rests easily in the palms of the hands.
What a beauty! Prices vary.
Coffee is an experience. So much goes into making a single cup, whether its espresso or pour over. The grind, the pour, etc. Why would you spend so much time creating something, and then serve it in something that diminishes the quality of the experience? That would be like putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet with the Montagues in dinosaur costumes while the Capulets wear space suits. Wait…that would be awesome. And hilarious. It would be more like going to see your new favorite movie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) in a theatre filled with crying children, sticky floors, and the pungent aroma of fresh hobo urine emanating from the seat next to you. Yeah. That. I get chills just thinking of that.
Anyway. Nice things are more enjoyable in nice packages. There are many nice choices out there that can fit any budget!