This set from Francis! Francis! (FF!! from now on) is one of two cup sets I own by the company - the other is the Jubilaeum set. Zig Zag was designed by Ron Anderson for FF!!, (website) It comes in a giant metal hat box-styled container with a picture of Francis herself (Francesco Illy's forever enshrined daughter - as a side note, it seems like he is forever apologizing to her on the FF!! Website (webpage) but it's cute nonetheless. The box is impressive, and possibly the most impressive part of this collection. The side panels are a must read, containing things such as:
"This tin box can be used as a drum, as a beauty case, as a hat box, as a vase, as a tray, as a toy carrier, as a Frisbee (dangerous), as a pizza oven (difficult), as a bra holder, as a Xmas tree ornament (check tree before hanging), as a snake cage, as whatever you'd like it to be. And obviously, as a stool. Got it?"
He forgot to mention it could also be used as a lethal weapon, but hey, that's my twisted mind at work.
| ZigZag Case with Cups |
As mentioned in this review, the packaging for the cups is quite substantial. I hear that the current releases DO NOT include this packaging, but check with your vendor.
Inside, you'll find five cups (the Jubilaeum set has six cups, this one has five) packed with a massive amount of preformed foam. Eventually you'll get the cups out, and here's the real meat part.
The cups are made in Germany by Zeitler, and actually have their own official name: Poi Ti Spiego... (with the ellipsis). They are a flute shape, and the saucers are standard designed with a sharp lip to keep the cup fairly secure. The inside of the cup is not bowl shaped - it is more angular, with nearly vertical walls and a barely rounded change to the flat bottom - they are almost angular at the bend.
The glaze and joining of the handle to the cup shows some marring, and given the price of these cups, I'd expect them to be a bit more polished and complete.
These cups are made out of porcelain (as are all cups in this review), and while the FF!! site makes much of the type of porcelain, I must admit I'm not impressed one way or the other.
These are the thinnest cups in the review, by far. Most espresso aficionados believe you need super thick porcelain as the ultimate espresso cup. I would agree that the thinness of these cups is far too much to be acceptable as a proper receptacle for a "god shot".
These cups are very, very light. Delicate light. I want a bit more substance in my cups when I hold them. As for the handle, it's a nice design, and while my fingers won't fit through the hole in the handle, my thumb feels great on it... my index finger less so. Still, they rate really good in the hand feel area. Bonus in that the cup is wide enough that my big nose doesn't it hit when I do the Italiano 3 gulp.
| The Francis! Francis! ZigZag Cup |
As you can see from this picture, the ZigZag Cups are very thin walled, but feature a lot of eye catching artwork. The saucers match well, and are the second smallest in this roundup.
Barely there. Way too thin.
Real winner in this department. The Zig Zag set features 5 different designs, one per cup (and matching saucers). By comparison, the Jubilaem set I own has white saucers. So does the Illy set featured elsewhere.
Ron Anderson's art is quite appealing, with wide swathy brushstrokes and a combination of bold and muted colours. On the bottom of each cup and saucer is Ron's signature and a number - all the Zig Zag cups and saucers in my set are numbered 1341. I was told only 2500 sets were made, but cannot confirm that number.
Aesthetics are the biggest plus of this set.
The paint job and glaze on the cups is first rate, and if you were willing to dishwasher-torture these $150 cups, I'm guessing they'd stand up to it well. The porcelain quality seems fine, no mars, even colours in the whites, no inline cracking, none of that stuff. They're just so damned thin!
Retail is $150 for the set. I paid substantially less - $48 when Tavolo.com was having its dying days.