Designing The Doubleshot Espresso Cup
A little one-fingered cup for the double shot of your choice -- with a saucer for a sidekick.
We started TBAone by designing a test tile. We needed a form through which we could test porcelain and glaze recipes. We mix all of our glaze tests in quart containers -- old yogurt and soup containers. They hold a small amount of glaze and allow us to do hundreds of tests and blend between them.
We wanted a pair of test tiles -- one that was flat so we could see how the glaze would pool, and one that was vertical so we could see how the glaze would run as it melted. Both test tiles had to fit in a quart container and still be fully immersed in glaze.
Two forms. Why not make them go together? Because of our need for test tiles, the Doubleshot Espresso Cup and Saucer was born, but it’s become so much more than a test.
In addition to dimensioning the pieces to fit in a quart container, we wanted the vessel to hold a distinct amount of liquid. Using a 3D modeling program, Rhino 3D, we sketched a cylinder that held 4 ounces. We started with the simplest form and worked from that. We realized that the saucers would only fit if they were oval. We also needed enough space on the saucer so you could carry it with the cup on top, so we flared out two sides. The saucer also had to have enough lift on the sides so it wouldn’t warp down during the firing.
We dimensioned the foot of the cup to fit into the saucer. We made the lip wider than the bottom so we could cast them in a single drop out mold. The cup was also designed to be oval to mimic the saucer. It’s a space saver and it leaves room for your nose so it doesn’t get bumped by the rim of the cup as you sip.
The next step was to 3D print the models at a finished scale to make sure they had good proportions. When we first exported the files to the 3D printer, a happy accident occurred. The forms exported from Rhino are built with many polygons. With the first model, the polygons naturally formed facets. These hard edges became a theme that we pulled through the whole first collection.
In order to make a mold of the Doubleshot cup, we used an acetone steam bath to smooth the surface of the ABS plastic that comes from the 3D printer.
We designed the handle to fit one finger and stay balanced on the cup. To get the size of the handle interior, we scanned an image of a large finger and imported it into the 3D modeling program. We wrapped a handle profile around the now digital drawing of the finger. We believe a good handle has strong, thick attachments to each vessel. The width of the handle also has to be thin enough so it fits between your fingers when they are in the grip position.
With the cup and saucer complete, we had a test tile. We also have an espresso machine in the studio, so the test tile proved functional in many ways. Kids love the Doubleshot too -- it makes a great sippy cup. And after the kids are in bed, you can use it as a little taster for your favorite nightcap.