Monday, January 22, 2007

Scroll Down

OK, so I started to write an entry about Nick Cho's SERBC winning blend ages ago, forgot, logged in today and finished it. So it appears before my last post, for some reason ...

Like I said, scroll down.


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.