Love the cups artwork and thick looks, but illy needs to improve quality (ie: drop IPA and get back to Rosenthal) at this price point.
Positive Product Points
The cups have a nice thick feel and are the most weighty of any cups I own. I don't know why, but I like the "Pen Tests" artwork on the cups and saucers. Maybe it's one of those Rorschach Ink Block Test things :^)
Negative Product Points
Less than stellar quality from the manufacturer IPA in Italy. I found exactly the same problems that Mark Prince reported on the quality of IPA (Italy) versus Rosenthal (Germany). The worst offenses are some small visible divots and rough spots around the saucer bottom rim and a visible seam down the center of the handle on one cup. I know this isn't "cup related", but illy can keep the (2 ) 8.8oz tins of pre-ground espresso coffee that's packaged with these cups. It's not ground fine enough to result in a good shot on my Isomac and well we all know that preground coffee is stale compared to fresh roasted whole bean. If I buy more illy cups, they will be "cups only" to avoid the waste of the illy coffee.
First a few specs from my own measurements:
Cup weight = 250gms Cup capacity (to the rim) = 6oz Cup diameter (at the top) = 3.3" (84mm) Cup height = 2.63" (66.8mm) Handle inside diameter = .64" (16.2mm) Saucer diameter = 5.6" (142.7mm)
The finish and artwork on the body of the cups are very nice and what you'd expect from illy at this price. But, illy really needs to get back to using Rosenthal as the manufacturer or I'll probably not order more like these. The quality, fit and finish of my (German made) Saeco Designer cups (at 1/3 the cost) exceeds these cups made by IPA. It is a real disappointment in this price range to see defects that one might expect to see on cheaper cups.
The cup handle actually has enough room to accomodate the tip of an index finger. Depending upon how you prefer to grasp the handle, you may find it uncomfortable to hold. If you like to grasp the handle between your thumb and index finger with a pinch-like grasp, all is OK. However, if you prefer to insert your index finger in the handle, you'll find a couple of your other fingers sliding downward to the cup base where a burn is waiting (assuming you're drinking a hot beverage). This may sound like silliness to some, but I report on it especially for those who have enjoyed the (burnless) feel of the Saeco handles.
The saucer is plenty large and is distinctly recessed on the bottom which makes it very easy to grasp. You'll notice that one right away the first time you carry it. Its a very different saucer from my other cappa cups (Saeco and Intelligentsia). It is raised in the center almost as if it's designed to lift up the cup on a pedestal for all to see. The center of the saucer where the cup sits is not very deep with rounded edges leading downward. The cup does not have a snug or well surrounded feel when set into the saucer which you may or may not appreciate. Each saucer's artwork is unique and set to match it's parent cup artwork which is a nice touch.
If you are buying these cups for potential "collection" value, then maybe you'll appreciate all the box-work, marketing materials and coffee tins that comes with the package. It's way over the top for a person who just plans on using the cups.
I'll sum by saying that I like the cup and saucer artwork very much. Short of the IPA manufacturing ilks, overall the cups have a classy look and good curb (or should I say saucer) appeal. I don't have the history with illy cups that Mark has and in fact these are my first illy Collection cups. I needed a few more cappa cups and wanted to give illy a spin.
Purchased direct from illy's USA site. I've corresponded with illy Customer Service about a half dozen times with various questions and found them very responsive and helpful. They shipped everything from California via Fedex and the cups were well packaged/packed. I would not buy this particular type package again due to some of the quality issues and the waste of the illy espresso tins. But, unless you catch some of the illy Collections early, you can find limits on qty of cups and what type of packaging you've got to buy to get them. All part of the illy mystique (or hype) depending upon your view.