Expensive and worth it - a pleasure to behold and a joy to drink from. Your search is over!
Positive Product Points
Even if you don't have a fetish for stainless steel, these cups are a wonder to behold and a pleasure to drink from. Remarkable heat retention and a cinch to clean up.
Negative Product Points
They are a bit on the pricey side but this is a long term investment - you'd have to drive over it with heavy machinery to break or bend this cup. The saucers are a bit too thin for my taste.
I had seen a few glowing reviews of these and have been very happy with an 18/10 stainless double walled travel mug that I've used for years (it had the dreaded *$ logo but I was able to scrape that off quite easily). A few months ago I spotted a set on display in a cafe (they were for sale but at too high a price). Extensive research showed Sweet Maria's to have the best price - I was already ordering beans from them so tacking it onto my green bean shipment resulted in very little extra shipping cost for the cups. SM's also sells a made-in-China double walled cup but the photos lead me to believe that the finish and aesthetics are no match for the made-in-Italy Inox. The $28 price is for a set of two including saucers.
Unpacked them and WOW! These are beauties - if you have even a smidgen of appreciation for beautiful industrial design, you'll really appreciate these. I'm drinking lots of double lattes these days but prefer an espresso to milk ratio that is weighted towards the espresso. My doppio ristrettos usually top out at 1 1/2 oz of liquid - a perfect match for 4 1/2 oz of steamed milk.
Heat retention is fabulous. I am currently using an Isomac Tea and usually pull shots at intervals of more than 10 -15 minutes apart. The practice of drawing off 4 to 6 oz of water through the grouphead to get ideal temps is a perfect match for these cups. The hot water goes directly into the Inox cup, which is left to preheat while I weigh and grind the beans and get the steaming pitcher ready.
The downside? Only three that I can think of and they're relatively minor but hey.... these are manufactured products and there's always room for improvement.
1) Saucer is too thin. Has nice mirrored SS surface on top but feels flimsy
2) Vacuum effect with saucer. Swetaing from the heat or spillage of a minute drop or two of liquid can cause the cup to stick to saucer.
3) The shape is not all that well suited for latte art - I'm sure a pro can pour latte art into a deep 6 oz cup but i have yet to master it.
Overall I consider these to be state of the art as capp cups go. Inox also makes a 3 oz espresso demitasse and a 12 oz latte cup in this series. Frobosk offers a 10 oz latte cup - more to my liking - I have a set on order and will post a review accordingly once they've been thoroughly evaluated.
Sweet Maria's - what can I say? It's a class operation and they have always been a pleasure to buy from.