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coffee in a majolica ceramic mug

The story of one Majolica espresso cup…

Craft production has always fascinated us. And this process, during which the raw material is transformed into the final product with maximum precision, still makes us fascinated till now…

How did the connection Ebenica + Majolika come about?

Many of our customers already know that the space in which our roastery is located was once part of the former Majolica production complex. And although the only memory of the former ceramic production is represented by the travertine floor in our store, the building as such is still part of the craft production. Although of a completely different nature.

green coffee in a jute bag

However, it was not just the space that led us to the idea of connecting with Majolica. It was also the good neighbourly relations, a love for Blue, the local community and especially for handicrafts.

Although at first glance it seems that roasting coffee and making ceramics have nothing in common, it is not so, in fact. Patience is an essential part of the craft – both for potter and the roaster. Just as a pattern consisting of countless details and lines requires hours of practice and concentration, to uncover the secrets of the perfect coffee bean recipe is difficult as well. As in the production of ceramics, the quality of clay and colours matter, also during the birth of good coffee, it is necessary to pay attention to the selection of grains, their proper storage and packaging.

More such similarities could be found, but the main one that unites all crafts is the product. A product that pleases the eye, caresses the soul, and which is useful and always at hand.

cup Ebenica + Majolika

This is how our coffee mug was made

The birth of a ceramic coffee mug is not easy. First, the ceramicist needs to model a prototype, which must meet the specified requirements for size and shape. Then gypsum moulds are made according to it, and the so-called “Pourer” or potting compound, which is basically something like dilute clay, is poured into them.

casting a ceramic mug

Clay needs time, similar as coffee

The gypsum from which the mould is made starts to absorb water out of the potting compound, leaving solid clay particles adhering to the inside of the mould. Excess casting compound is poured out of the mould after a precisely determined time, and then the mould is opened and the finished cup is carefully removed.

While the cup is still malleable, it still needs to be manually remodelled and adjusted. After these last “cosmetic” adjustments, the cup is allowed to dry. The key is the drying rate, which must be slow. If the cup dries too quickly or unevenly, it may lead to deformation or rupture. Our ceramic cups – just to give you an idea – have dried for an incredible two weeks.

dried ceramic coffee mug

When an espresso cup is born from clay…

When the cup is thoroughly dried, it goes to the oven for the first time, where it is fired at a temperature of 980°C. During firing, the dried clay becomes the so-called pre-burning ceramic shard, which then after thorough cooling travels to another part of the production – the paint shop.

burnt ceramic coffee mugs

In the workshop where the cups are painted, they must first be immersed in the raw glaze. The glaze is a white glassy base layer, which has not only n aesthetic but also a practical function. Thanks to it, ceramics do not let water through.

However, clay is a living material, which means that it expands in the heat and shrinks in the cold again. This is one of the reasons why, over time, a fine cobweb, technically called a haris, can form in the glaze from the inside of the ceramic cup. Haris is created under the influence of temperature jumps and this production technology is a natural phenomenon that has no effect on the functionality of the cup itself.

ceramic mug soaked in glaze

A shard from which a real cup has raised!

A painting is then applied to the raw glaze with the free hand. Regardless of the pattern, the painter must proceed very patiently so that the painting is done as precisely as possible. And since we chose a relatively demanding geometric pattern for our cups, consisting of a number of thin lines, painting one espresso cup took the painter about half an hour.

folk ceramics painter at work

The paints that ceramic painters work with are oxides of various metals and are applied exclusively with natural hair brushes. They can hold them best. Although Majolica is characterized by more earthy colour tones, gradually more bright colours, such as deep orange or turquoise, which we finally chose for our ceramic espresso cups, are beginning to penetrate them.

hand painting a ceramic mug

The glazed and painted cups must go to the oven a second time, where they will be fired again, this time at a temperature of 960°C. It is the second firing that helps each ceramic cup to obtain the resulting gloss, the required colour intensity, but especially the strength that is essential for its daily use.

If you are also an admirer of practical-artistic ceramics and you want to enjoy quality coffee in a design cup from Majolica, go to our e-shop.

espresso with milk in a ceramic mug