Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Terra Keramik Cups

Yes, yes, I've been negligent of my blogging duties. Deal with it. More updates soon!

For the moment, I thought that I should begin by sending a shout-out to Reto at Terra Keramik. I first saw his cups on Mark's obscure coffee site a few months ago and thought that they looked kinda neat. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, Reto had sent a sample down to me to see whether or not cups function the same on the other side of the world. I figured that the least that I could do is blog about it.

Have you ever noticed that almost every US review of
coffee stuff talks about the packaging in nauseating detail?
This photo is dedicated to those reviewers ;P

The thing that got my attention was that Reto's marketing speak seems aimed towards high end espresso. Now there are heaps of cups out there that look cool, but they are either monstrously large or a bad shape for latte art. The Terra Keramik cups are hand-made, applying gorgeous glazes and platinum rims to the proven 5oz tulip shape.

Standard ACF tulip in the background for reference.

At times, the 5oz tulip seems like the holy grail of cups. Pun intended. The espresso to coffee ratio is just perfect. (Especially according to the Italians and the WBC!) In the domestic sphere, where equipment can be more difficult to work with, one can base their cappuccino on a double ristretto or even just cut a double espresso short. Pro baristi with less tempremental equipment can easily split a double espresso into two cups safe in the knowledge that the espresso flavour will not be overwhelmed with milk.

In terms of latte art, the tulip cups aren't bad, but the king will always be the bowl-shaped cup. The problem is that the 7oz really needs a double shot as a base ... or perhaps a shot and a half or something wierd like that.

Cassie works with me at First Pour.
I tend to avoid having pour-offs with her!

Given the inherent awesomeness of the 5oz tulip cup, I suppose that it was inevitable that everyone loved this cup when they first saw it. There were really only two niggling issues. First, the shape isn't as curved as the standard mass-produced tulip cups, which seems to make it more difficult to start pouring your rosetta. Second, the ceramic is quite thick, which is probably more of a reflection of what we're used to than anything else, but it does mean that the cup needs more time to heat up and takes more time to cool down.

Finally, I had a few little chips near the handle of the cup and some of the platinum seemed to rub off the saucer rim in the dishwasher, which is obviously rather irritating.

Now, as soon as Reto heard about this, he offered to replace the cup. Which is ludicrously generous considering that postage for a single cup costs almost as much as the cup. Plus I presume that it must take more time to package the cups than it takes to make them ;P In any case, these cups are premium products that command a premium price, so it's good to know that they come with the requisite level of support.

My verdict? I'm the sort of person who loves high-quality stuff with simple and clean designs, so I love my morning cappuccino in Reto's cup. Obviously the price is going to be an issue for many people - myself included - and the most anal of the anal would do well to re-read the pluses and minuses above. If the espresso cups are similar to the cappuccino cups, though, it's difficult to see what anyone could criticise about them. The glaze and rims are stunning, the volume seems to be perfect and the weight will be an advantage. Illy artistry meets Nuova Point practicality. I'd buy them before Illy, but, unless I get a few hundred in tips next time I pull a godshot, I don't think that that will be soon.

The stopwatch is in a standard NP demi.



At 1:49 AM, Anonymous terrakeramik said...

Luca - thanks for testing our cappuccino cup and for blogging. It appears as if both the blue glaze and the platinum glaze chipped, probably due to minor bubbles in the glaze. This can happen in a handcrafted product, but is rare. We have sent you a replacement cup yesterday. We apologize for the defective cup and hope you enjoy the new one. Two other characteristics of the cups worth pointing out: they are lead and cadmium free for a food-safe finish and they are triple-fired for added durability. Thanks again!

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

trying to find you email....remember you are working this Sunday 21st
Got some COE


At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Emanuele said...

Luca I sent an enquiry off to TK even though they state they do not ship outside US of A at their web... FINGERS CROSSED! Nice lookin' good quality cups. Love the colour. Keep up the nice work at PQ!

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Luca said...


Thankyou for sending me another cup. That is so ludicrously generous and is entirely uncalled for. I'm actually drinking this right now:



Looking forward to that COE tomorrow. Hope the Swift is set up. That thing will make playing with different blends so damned fast that it's not funny. We used the one at FP to cup through like seven blends in an hour!


Interesting ... I'm sure that they'll ship outside the US, but Reto's paranoid packaging predispositions presage pretty painful postage prices. And a peck of pickeled peppers. Let us know how you go. What are you thinking of getting?



At 12:26 AM, Blogger Brett Gibson said...

Heya Luca,

So is the honeymoon period over yet? What's the impression of the Maver Marte now?


At 1:04 PM, Blogger terrakeramik said...

Luca - glad the cup arrived so quickly! Thanks for the photo on flickr - nice latte art in our cup! BTW, we did send Emanuele a proposal (shipping is "reasonable") and await his response...

At 3:39 PM, Blogger terrakeramik said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger terrakeramik said...

Your flickr photo is now posted on our website at terrakeramik. Looks cool!

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Luca said...

Hehehe ... cool. I'll have to try to pour something better at some stage.

Gibbo, the Maver = awesome. Can't get into much detail about it now, but maybe I'll post about it in a few weeks. Basically, it makes great coffee with no fuss and I can tweak every little variable that I'd like to. I have been experimenting with different brew pressures, boiler pressures and steam tips, so I should be able to get it performing exactly how I want relatively soon.



At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a small dig,

your latte art should be there already bro :)


At 5:52 AM, Anonymous emanuele said...

Reto came through with a good proposal - they will consider doing business outside USA. I am looking at a small commercial quantity - for cafe use and that's where the problem lies; imagine loosing $40 odd per breakage - ouch!!! The colours are great the Swiss web has some picks that really show off the colour: http://www.terrakeramik.ch/

At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is the terrakeramik cup bowl shaped on the inside bottom?

At 11:58 PM, Blogger tangie said...

hey luca, where can you get ACF cups?

At 5:29 AM, Anonymous terrakeramik said...

The Terra Keramik espresso and cappuccino cups are bowl shaped on the inside bottom (the espresso cup is probably more like egg-shaped).

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Luca said...

Hi Ant,

I'm not a huge art guy, but I'm getting better. The FB80 makes it very easy to steam for two cups. The 300mL jug is a bit more challenging.

Hey Emanuele,

Sounds like that's all going well for you. "Small commercial quantity," hey? Do I get a referral fee ;P I'll accept it in red espresso cups. If you want to talk about cups that are just ridiculous for commercial use, check out the ones that Artigiano used to use! There was an awesome latte art movie on coffeegeek from those guys.

Hi "Anonymous,"

Yep, bowl-shaped, but note that the curvature on all cups differs.

Hi Tangie,

Not sure who the Australian importers are ... google gets you nothing. I know that Rio Coffee in Adelaide has them. Veneziano in Melbourne (ie. my work) has an order for a bunch coming in, but I bet you that they'll disappear in an instant.



At 12:46 PM, Blogger Luca said...

Hey anonymous,

Just thought that I should clear up the curvature comment; cups of the same model by the same manufacturer will have the same curvature at the bottom. Two cups of different models by different manufacturers, however, will have different curvatures.




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