Archive for the ‘illy’ Category

We’re BAAACK!!!

October 21, 2008

We’ve been busy the past 6 months growing and expanding our online marketplace at and although we continue to be busy (especially with the holiday season only a few weeks away), we are excited to share with you some of the things we’re doing on this blog. We’ll be posting in the next few days, so check back! Thanks.


Mother’s Day…

April 21, 2007

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Gift Ideas

For her and him, consider Terra Keramik handcrafted espresso cups, cappuccino cups and coffee mugs. Clean, simple designs and rich, saturated glazes in eight funky colors. Each piece is accented in platinum and hand-signed by the artist. Espresso cups holds a 2-ounce espresso shot and cappuccino cups hold a 5-ounce latte. Tulip shaped with round, interior bottoms.

Triple fired for maximum durability. Lead-free and cadmium-free glazes for an absolute food-safe finish. Dishwasher safe.

Handcrafted in Switzerland since 1984.

And to make a really bold statement, match the cups with a FrancisFrancis espresso machine available in equally funky colors.

Terrakeramik espresso cups
Exclusively available at Espresso cups $28 or save 10% when you buy a set of 4 of the same color. Cappuccino cups $32 or save 10% when you buy 4 of the same color.
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FrancisFrancis X5 espresso machines
Available at,,, etc. Retail price approx. $650.
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FrancisFrancis X1 espresso machines
Available at,,, etc. Retail price approx. $800.
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Functional design (and more) in beverageware

February 1, 2007

Felix Vogler, Founder and Creative Director of Terra Keramik, believes that good design should simplify and not complicate (read our interview with Felix Vogler). He creates exclusive beverageware and dinnerware using clean, simple designs and rich, saturated glazes in eight funky colors. Each piece is accented in platinum and hand-signed by the artist. Terra Keramik uses lead-free and cadmium-free glazes for an absolute food-safe finish. And to achieve maximum durability and easy care, the pieces are triple fired and dishwasher safe. The Terra Keramik tableware is handcrafted in Switzerland since 1984. All of that increases cost. But our beverageware is not for everyone.


Our beverageware is for the serious coffee lover who values a cup that combines functional design, handcrafted quality and a certain “fun” factor. Baristas consider our cappuccino and espresso cups to have the proven shape, size and thickness to create a perfect cup of java. We aim to raise the bar for espresso and cappuccino cups to a level that has been achieved for espresso machines, grinders, tampers, etc. Because we believe that to truly enjoy the coffee experience, one should not compromise on the cup that holds the coffee and delivers it to your palate.

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If you are serious about coffee or espresso, and you plan to grind and brew at home, you could easily spend $600 to $2,000 on equipment alone (read our equipment and tools guide). On the low end, a cheap burr grinder will cost $100, a tamper $30 and an espresso machine $500. On the “pro-sumer” (aka light commercial) end, a nice burr grinder will cost $450, a tamper $30-$50 and an espresso machine $1,000-$1,800. Fresh roasted or pre-ground coffee retails for $12-$15 per lb. What we find is that many will (unknowingly?) compromise on the cup and buy an espresso or cappuccino cup that does not have the ideal shape, size and thickness to optimize enjoyment of the java. As a rule of thumb, budgeting around 10% for cups sounds reasonable, which would translate to $60-$100+ for cups (assuming the home equipment costs $600-$2,000 as described above). Our espresso cup retails for $28 and our cappuccino cup is $32 (10% discount on sets of 4).

We draw an interesting comparison to the wine industry. Riedel Crystal designs the shape of their wine glasses according to the character of the wine and is considered the inventor of the functional wine glass. Riedel believes that “a positive approach to life is linked to pleasure and enjoyment. Pleasure is given by our senses like sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.” Functional design has become a strong element of the Riedel brand. Riedel has raised the bar for wine glasses. We would like to educate the coffee and espresso consumer and create the same awareness and appreciation for functional design in coffee beverageware as Riedel has done for wine glasses.

Terra Keramik extends the value of the functional design by handcrafting the beverageware in Switzerland (Riedel’s best-selling Vinum wine glasses are machine made) using only the highest-quality tools and materials. And it adds to the enjoyment of the espresso or coffee by creating the cups in 8 funky (retro) colors: green, yellow, orange, red, brown, light blue, white and black. Each cup is accented in platinum and signed by the artist. And Terra Keramik creates its beverageware using energy-saving clays (reduces energy consumption by 20%) and glazes that exceed the FDA requirement for lead and cadmium content and are absolutely lead and cadmium free (the FDA permits trace amounts in tableware).

Good functional design. Rich, saturated glazes in funky colors. Quality handcrafted in Switzerland. Eco-friendly.


Small is beautiful

January 5, 2007

espressamente illy represents illycaffe’s growth and extension of its premium coffee brand and effort to double revenues over the next five years.  Nothing more. 

Although illy already operates more than 100 espressamente illy coffee bars (including more than 50 outside of Italy), it nevertheless created a little bit of a media stir over the year-end holidays when Mr. Andrea Illy discussed the company’s plans to extend its brand.  No less than the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Business Week, Economist, as well as several blogs, including Slashfood, the shot, the client side have written about Mr. Illy’s grand plan. Even one of the major business publications from India (where tea is preferred over coffee) featured an article about Illy’s plans for growth. What made the story interesting for the media is the comparison of Illy and Starbucks (does David and Goliath come to mind?) and the implication that Illy would compete with Starbucks, although most went to great lengths to stress that this was not about Illy vs. Starbucks.  Mr. Illy “publicly” acknowledged Starbuck’s role in growing consumer awareness and taste for premium coffee, with his counterpart Mr. Howard Schultz, Chairman of Starbucks, offering a “no comment”.

So let’s take a look at Starbucks and Illy, and what drives their business.

Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) is a publicly-listed (since 1992), global retailer with $7.8 billion revenues (+22%), net income of $564 million (+14%) and a market value of more than $26 billion. It has more than 12,000 coffee outlets (about 8,800 US locations and 3,600 international locations) and employs 135,000 people. Starbucks opened 2,200 stores in 2006 and plans to open a further 2,400 stores in 2007 on its way to 30,000 coffee shops (Mr. Schultz’s goal). Can you say “Walmart”?

Illycaffe, on the other hand, is a privately-held, family-run business founded in 1933 in Trieste, Italy and run by Mr. Andrea Illy, the founder’s grandson. It has estimated 2006 revenues of $330 million and profit in the $20-$30 million range. That’s tiny compared to Starbucks! Even if it manages to double revenues to $600 million over the next 5 years (Mr. Illy’s goal), it will still be the “hill of beans” compared to Starbucks. But is that a relevant comparison? Surely not.

Illycaffe is one of three major Italian coffee makers, along with Lavazza and Segafredo Zanetti, but it is the acknowledged leader in branding and marketing coffee as a luxury good. It has a growing business of commissioning and selling artist designed cups (Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, others) and collaborating with Italian espresso machine manufacturer FrancisFrancis! and architect Lucca Trazzi to design and sell espresso machines.  But illy’s core business is and remains the roasting and distribution of a single blend of arabica coffee (arabica beans are higher quality than the robusta beans, and ideal for brewing espresso) to more than 40,000 hotel, restaurant and coffee shops globally, as well as to the retail consumer market.  Today, illy exports to more than 144 countries, with exports accounting for more than 50% of revenues.  More than 6 million cups of illy espresso are served every day!  Sale of illy coffee is growing at 30% annually at such upscale US markets as Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.  And Mr. Illy believes that the growth in the market for gourmet coffee has just begun.  No wonder then that illycaffe is interested in extending its brand and expanding its reach with espressamente illy.

So what are illy’s plans? As already mentioned, illy operates more than 100 espressamente illy worldwide (including more than 50 outside of Italy). According to illy’s website, espressamente illy are “Italian-style coffee bars in their setting and offer, with different atmospheres and roles during the course of the day, involving the customers’ senses and emotions, through communication and cultural events.” illy continues: “Lifestyles are changing, and stopping off at a coffee bar for a cup of coffee has become much more than just a quick break. It is an experience involving the senses and the spirit, and overflows from the cup into the café as a meeting place for communication, in accordance with the most genuine Italian-style coffee houses. It is a place offering the openness and liveliness of the street and the comfort and coziness of home. A place where people stop for something to eat, to read, or to share ideas with friends and colleagues.” Illy will offer the espressamente illy experience in several flavors, based on function and location, including core bar, landscape bar, transit bar, community bar, and corner bar. espressamente illy has opened in such diverse locations as Terminal 1 of Frankfurt airport, the perimeter wall of a bull fighting arena in Lisbon, and most recently (December 18, 2006) in the Nihonshibashi fashion district in Tokyo (3,500 square feet including a 33 feet long coffee bar). illy will ensure the consistent interpretation and application of its brand to the espressamente illy coffee shops with advice on architectural design (in collaboration with three Italian star architects), coffee, food and beverage, setting, culture and environment, training, communication, and financial advice.

Illy will also rely on its ability to pursue perfection in the coffee cup througth technical innovation. For example, illy is credited with the development of the paper pod delivering a single dose of pre-ground coffee for espresso machines, and is working on a two-stage espresso-making process to intensify the drink’s aroma and make it smoother. With a single roasting plant in Trieste, Italy and plans to open 500 espressamente illy coffee bars worldwide, it may also want to think about how to assure consistent freshness in every cup no matter where it is served.

We know that Starbucks had good intentions when it started its expansion in the early nineties (consistent, premium quality coffee and relaxing ambiance to meet friends and business associates – sounds familiar?), but with shareholders eagerly anticipating every quarterly earnings report and wondering how Starbucks would continue to maintain its double-digit growth, that initial concept was compromised. Provided illycaffe maintains its focus on its core strategy of extending and growing its premium coffee brand, we don’t expect to see illy opening 30,000 espressamente illy coffee bars anytime soon.

Small is beautiful.