Up until 1992 all espresso coffee cups could only purchased in either white or with a company logo upon them. It was then the decision of Illy Caffe that they would combine art with espresso and they commissioned Matteo Thun to help design their first espresso cup. The design is considered by the owner of Illy Caffe (Francesco Illy) to be the perfect cup even though its design is very simple. Now with many coffee connoisseurs around the world, these types of cups have become collector’s items.
In fact for many when it comes to collecting espresso coffee cups it is almost akin to them collecting some forms of artwork. The cups designed today each have their own artist who will produce his/her own particular design and will contain some of their own personal style within them. Today there are many up and coming artists who have now designed cup collections as a way of getting themselves known and making their artwork available to the general public.
Today all companies that produce such cups will have a particular numbering system in place which allows them to limit the number that are produced. Plus you will also find that they limit the time in which these cups will be available before they remove them from the shelves and bring in a completely new design. You will find that with each of the Illy collector cups and their accompanying saucers has been signed and numbered on the base.
Plus inside the cup itself you will see it says “Illy Collection”. However those cups and saucers which are used in restaurants and are therefore part of a bar set will only say “Illy Espresso” on them and will neither have a number of being signed. Other cups that are now being produced are those by FrancisFrancis! and Saeco. The FrancisFrancis! collections come with both a number and a signature on them just like the Illy collections, whilst the Saeco espresso coffee cups will only signed on the base.
Each set of cups when purchased comes in a display box and in some cases you may find that the manufacturers have also included coffee with them as well.
Today because espresso coffee cups have become extremely popular, getting hold of the older versions can be very difficult and also be very expensive. Certainly as soon as any series of cups is no longer available to be brought through a retail outlet then the only way to obtain this through buying them from another collector. One set of Trazzine espresso coffee cups which a person could have purchased in 1994 for $109 is now up for sale by a collector for $700. So certainly as you can see these cups are not just for drinking your espressos.