Meeting the makers: An artisan cup for an artisan coffee.

Always searching for the perfect cup?

We hear you. A creative bunch, the Zest crew love teaming up with other creative types. Artisans, producers, designers, innovators – all of these craftspeople can add to communicating great coffee. But in the end, you can’t have a coffee experience without one thing – a cup.  So we’re going to try something a bit different…

The cup you choose to drink from can sometimes make or break a brew/wine/whiskey. And drinking a mind-blowing coffee out of a favourite cup is quite incomparable.

Hopefully, we all agree that coffee grown, processed, sourced and roasted – nurtured all the way down the line – by a team of passionate craftspeople equals a greater coffee experience. Add to that, the more you know about the process, the better the coffee tastes. True?

We’ve decided to explore this a bit deeper.

How much can you elevate this experience even further by learning about the work that goes into creating a beautiful ceramic cup? Just imagine all of that appreciation in just one coffee moment – your mind may very well explode.

We set out to find a local ceramicist to help that narrative. And we found the lovely Eva.

Over the coming months with the help of Eva we’ll be creating and sharing a cup with you all (Eva will be doing most of the work to be honest.)

We’re going to take you through the whole process of crafting a ceramic cup, start to finish. From the initial design, sourcing and throwing the clay, turning, firing, carving, glazing… until we have a ‘specialty’ cup.

The project will create a very small run of handmade cups, exclusive to Zest. (Details on how to get your hands on one of these cups will be revealed over the coming weeks.)

There’s Something About Eva.

Through a hot tip, I heard of a Melbourne ceramic artist that was making and doing very beautiful things, and who loves to share her knowledge as much as she loves to create. Respect.

Based out of an old mechanic’s workshop in Strathmore (sort of between Coburg and Moonee Ponds for those not familiar), Eva Giannoulidis – AKA ‘Ceramica Mechanica’, makes, sells and teaches ceramics.

When I approached Eva to be a part of the project, she was already bursting with ideas, and of course, she said yes. We’re lucky because she’s quite magnificent.

Eva’s career began as a painter. An already established artist who fully encompassed her craft, it was while studying Painting & Sculpture at TAFE back in 2012 when she had a small trip in her studies inspiring her to re-imagine her path.

After a lot of research and soul-searching she redirected her studies and ‘took a gamble’ at a pottery class.

“It was pretty instant”, says Eva of her introduction to pottery, “hypnotic in fact.”

“Once I felt that clay in my hands I was in. I wanted to know everything. And I instantly felt it was good for me.”

It wasn’t as instant to master the craft, however. For Eva, an exceptional painter and sculptor, grasping this new technique was tough. It’s kind of like learning a new language. You know how to put the words together, but your brain and tongue has to learn how to get itself around the words.

But she knew she wanted it, so she practiced and practiced and learned as much as she could. About clay, about ceramics, firing, carving –all the technical stuff.

Similar to roasting specialty coffee when an artist masters a material and teams it with a deep understanding of all the technical elements of the craft, the space to create becomes larger and infinitely more exciting.

In 2016 Eva graduated from a Fine Arts degree at RMIT, majoring in ceramics. In 2017 she completed the NIES scheme and started her own pottery hub in Strathmore.

Ceramica Mechanica is now a full-time gig for Eva. A shopfront, workspace, and design studio within a refurbished mechanic’s workshop is the home for a business where Eva creates and shares her zest for ceramics.

Eva, who also focuses a lot of her time sourcing and recycling clay (more about that coming), was recently awarded ‘Strathmore Small Business Person’. The generous artist, who’s involved in many other local projects including Moonee Valley’s ’20 minute neighbourhood’, has become very much a part of her community. And for the next 8 weeks Eva will be a part of Zest’s community.

Beginning very soon, Eva’s going to create our cup.

From design to glazing, we’ll track the process of the cup, and along the way Eva’s going to teach us all a bit about pottery, and everything that goes into a cup – other than great coffee.

For updates follow our Instagram and Facebook pages, and stay tuned.

>> & Instagram @zest_coffee


Words and pictures by Mandy DelVecchio