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Coffee cup design is evolving into more distinctive and customizable forms

MILAN, Italy — Is there anything more traditional and more reassuring than that little white cup of coffee that greets us every morning at the bar to give us our daily caffeine fix? Maybe not, but even here, as elsewhere in the world of coffee, things are starting to change.

“Various studies and research projects carried out recently into the business of enjoying coffee, tea, wine and so on have found that the experience is greatly influenced by the cup or glass it is drunk from,” says Carlo Barbi, CEO of Club House.

This has led to an increasingly scientific and specialised approach to what up until just a few years ago was considered as little more than a receptacle to pour drinks into (usually mass-produced in large volumes), but which now is being seen as a fundamental aid to making an espresso taste divine.

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The way ceramic is manufactured lends itself to the production of special, highly personalised models even in limited numbers, in different shapes, sizes and thicknesses “all features which, if appropriately studied to suit the different kinds of coffee and the way it is prepared, can make the experience for the end consumer truly unique.”

This personalisation is also a marketing matter, because “the cup is a bar’s main advertising medium, thanks to the huge visibility it enjoys and the immediate correlation with the product it contains – the actual coffee.”

Hence the pursuit of ever more distinctive forms and decorations. “From a formal point of view,” Barbi goes on, “it has become essential for large and medium-sized firms to have an exclusive model, and coffee cups can be the secret of their success. Right now everyone wants to make their cups exclusive and unforgettable, through colours, patterns and finishes that are increasingly visible and easily identified by the end customer.”

“In Italy the change is happening to some extent thanks to the opening of Starbucks in Milan and of other highly innovative formulae,” says Simone Boschini, from Ancap’s marketing area, who does, however, believe that “the espresso and cappuccino cup market tends to follow a traditional path. Here at Ancap, though, we have come up with some hi-tech cups which cater to more sophisticated demands, and also specially coloured designer cups to serve alongside their more traditional counterparts, to complete the product range.”