Crafting a Specialty Glass: notNeutral's VERO Cortado
A cortado is a drink for the coffee connoisseur. Often an off-menu item, a cortado is roughly equal parts steamed milk and espresso served in a four-ounce glass. It is milkier than a macchiato and more concentrated than a cappuccino.
The beverage and name comes from the Spanish word for “cut,” and refers to the way the milk cuts the acidity of the espresso. When the beverage migrated to the US West Coast Specialty Coffee scene, it was served behind the bars of coffee shops and casually referred to as a “Gibraltar” after the literal name of the glass the drink was being served in.
The majority of glasses on the market that are used to serve cortados are intended for liquor. Our goal at notNeutral was to design a glass specifically intended for serving espresso and milk. We wanted to take what we learned in the development of our LINO collection and apply it to a new material: glass.
For the VERO Cortado line, we did not look at coffeeware for precedents. Instead we took inspiration from the clarity and sharpness of glass as a material. We wanted to experiment with different ways of manipulating glass, creating hard edges and facets in order to catch light and play with refraction and reflection.
The technical improvements to the glass primarily concerned the interior shape of the vessel. Most commercially available 4 oz glasses have either a flat bottom or an irregularly shaped interior curve, which makes pouring latte art much more difficult.
To make it easier on baristas (especially those accustomed to our LINO collection), we modeled the interior of the VERO Cortado after our cappuccino cups. We went through rounds of testing prototypes to achieve the optimal overall height, width and weight.
The notNeutral Cortado glass honors the name of the drink and gets a vessel in its name, not the other way around. We went back to the origins of the drink, both for its meaning and in the way it would be presented and celebrated. The facets appear to be cut as if the sides are sliced to make the glass comfortable to fit in the palm of the hand. Above these beveled edges, the curved bottom of the base is visible, displaying the beverage as if on a pedestal.
We focused on finding a glass manufacturer with an established history to craft the product. We found Mosser, a family run company that has been producing hand-pressed glass for over forty years in Cambridge, Ohio. During the sampling process, we looked at a range of colors and were immediately attracted to two colors, clear and smoke gray glass, for the debut of this line. We found a pleasing balance in the 2 contrasting color representations of the form. The clear cortado shines, and celebrates the beverage in all its glory while the smoke has a mysterious and lurking personality.
The final product is made from soda-lime glass, a commercial grade, hard, workable glass that is ideal for recycling. The name of this new line of glassware, VERO, has Latin roots meaning glass and truth. The VERO Cortado holds 4.25 oz., is 3” wide x 3” high, and is microwave- and dishwasher-safe.