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Espresso Cups Review - Illy Schwung Art Collection Cups
Introduction | Criteria for Review | Francis! Francis! | Illy Schwung | Tognana Cups | Saeco Art Cups | Cup Vs. Cup Vs. Cup! | Conclusions
Illy Cups with Can

This is my second set of Illy (website) Art Cups (the first set is Bus Stop, which is still sealed), and Illy cups have proven to be highly collectible, with some sets from the mid-90s reselling today for as much as $800 (Sandro Chia's Faces set) or more. The illy cup itself was designed in 1992 by Matteo Thun, and that design has been made by three different companies (Amici, Swiss, Mitterteich and Rosenthal, both German) up to today, with Mitterteich doing today's production.

Illy art cups are so popular, they even have their own home on the web (website) And with most sets, you get a can of preground in the box, or in the case of some sets, a unique accessory (the current Alien set is 4 cups and saucers with a matching sugarbowl).

Construction
The cups are rock solid. The glaze is brilliant and the joint between cup and handle is superb. A lot of attention went into the design and construction of these cups. Nice elongated bowl shape. Not perfect shape as far as I'm concerned, but pretty close.

The saucers are equally superb. Unlike all the other saucers in this shootout, these ones actually raise the cup above the saucer - Illy's reasoning for this to to make the cups appear to "float" above the saucers. I like it for the more practical - it keeps spoons, and more importantly, meltable chocolates, from touching the cup.

Materials
High grade porcelain, very white, very solid, no blemishes at all, no cracking, nada. Winner in this category.

Thickness
These cups are deceptive. Originally I thought they were thinner than other cups in this shootout, but they aren't. They actually are thin at the rims, but taper smoothly to more than double the thickness as the wall goes down. Ideal for me.

Illy Cups and Box
Illy Cups and Box
The Illy cup sets are definitely packed for display, with each cup plainly visible on its side when the box is opened. In the middle is a can of Illy ground espresso coffee. Mmmm. Not :-)

Hand feel
These cups are described by the creator as "whimsical and like a cloud, a dream". And yes, they are nearly the dream cups. They are sufficiently heavy and the dimple handle fits almost perfectly in my big mitts, and a female I asked to try it out said it felt very solid and secure in her hands as well.

Heat retention
Very good overall. These cups warm up nice on top of the espresso machine, and keep your shot hot for the appropriate time.

Aesthetics
What can I say here. Illy Art Cups! You know they're good. The shape is pleasing, the saucers are part of the artistry (though in my case, not painted - some illy art cup series' saucers are painted), and the finishing glaze just sparkles. On the bottom are random numbers (each of my cups has a different number!) with the artist signature and the year they were made.

Bonus! The illy collection text inside the cup marks where approximately 2oz (with heavy crema) should be. This and the Saeco cups are the only two in this roundup to provide a measurement indicator inside!


Overall Quality
First rate. Nothing to complain about. Price is a bit up there, but heck, these be collectibles!

Pricing
Schwung retails for $88 currently, one of the least expensive art cup sets the company has sold. My cups were provided by ChrisCoffee (website) and they sell them for $69. But for even greater savings, you can get dozen of the logo cups, built commercial grade tough, for under $50 from ChrisCoffee. That's a deal and a half.

Next Page...

Introduction | Criteria for Review | Francis! Francis! | Illy Schwung | Tognana Cups | Saeco Art Cups | Cup Vs. Cup Vs. Cup! | Conclusions
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Detailed Review Sections
Arrow 1. Introduction
Aarow 2. Criteria for Review
Aarow 3. Francis! Francis!
Arrow 4. Illy Schwung
Aarow 5. Tognana Cups
Aarow 6. Saeco Art Cups
Aarow 7. Cup Vs. Cup Vs. Cup!
Aarow 8. Conclusions
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