Let’s rewind 87 years ago as you sip your cup of Joe. Once upon a time, a young Francesco Illy laid the first bricks of an empire in the city Trieste in Italy. One that would play an important role in changing the landscape of the coffee industry all across the world.
Standing tall as a family business more than eight decades later, Illy has grown to be synonymous with caffeine, comfort, quality, and class.
The What and The How
While it is fair to note, Illy does tend to place their goods on the higher side of the price spectrum, they do have the quality to back the claim. You’re guaranteed a steaming cup of velvety goodness whether you like your coffee to be Turkish, Neapolitan, Moka, brewed, or if you enjoy something classic like a cappuccino or espresso.
The Illy family vows to bring its patrons passion, obsession, and delight in their mission statement through a rich flavor of 100% Arabica beans. The birthplace of the beans used by the company lies in corners all across the world including India, Brazil, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Colombia. The company works directly with the coffee growers themselves cutting out the possibility of exploitation and erosion from any middlemen.
Are You Getting The Best With Illy?
The answer lies in the company’s patented digital photo-chromatic machine. Since 1988 Illy has been using the machine to sort through and choose the best quality beans for your daily cup. The coffee is available in all varieties including espresso pods and capsules, pre-ground, and whole beans. When committing to your caffeine dose, you can choose between medium roast beans, dark roast beans, and decaffeinated options.
Though the company has been primarily associated with coffee, they have also dipped their figurative toes into the worlds of chocolates, jams, teas, and wine. By acquiring and working with companies like Domori, Dammann Frères, Agrimontana, and Mastrojanni.
The Illy Coffee
The brand offers a decent number of coffee variants in most of the forms like beans, grounds, and capsules. The variants are not too many, but that’s a good thing and nobody has to get confused in numerous. They only offer some good ones that they can provide consistently without any quality concerns. There is a variety pack that contains coffee from different origins – Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil, India, and Guatemala. The freshest pack which is a must for a good cup of Joe can be found on their site.
In 1935 the coffee industry was busy trying to explore the development of a possible espresso coffee machine. There was however one snag that people were facing; The machines getting built were all blowing up.
It was when Francesco Illy entered the scene that the world was introduced to the concept of using air pressure instead of steam through a ‘double steam boiler’ leading to the eventual creation of the world’s first prototype of an espresso machine. Dubbed the Illeta, it was the first step Illy took toward making their own coffee machines.
For those that call Illy their favorite and long to enjoy a warm cup from the comfort of their homes, a subscription sounds like a sensible solution.
Once Illy subscribers decide on the kind of coffee that suits their demands; Capsules, ground, or whole beans, they also get to pick how often they’d want it delivered home. When you sign up, you also receive a welcome gift of your choice as your induction gift to the Illy family.
If you want to take it a step further, you can opt for the capsule machine subscription also known as the “illy a casa” program instead. This allows you the option of getting yourself one of five free espresso machines when you sign up with them. You can decide between having your coffee in the form of iperEspresso capsules, ground or whole beans.
The Illy Espresso Machine
Illy also sells espresso machines under their hood. They offer drip machines as well as capsule espresso machines. These are updated from time to time with technology updates and you don’t have to worry about service as they are connected to a good network of service providers all over.
There are a host of units to choose from and you can select either their exclusive iperEspresso capsule machines (something similar to Nespresso) or their espresso & coffee makers, which combines the features of both brewing via coffee grounds or simply the capsules.
They also have a wide selection of basic coffee makers at their site, almost complete for an avid coffee drinker. I personally liked their interface for being easy and not overly populated with nonsense options.
Illy Is Proud Of
Since its discovery, the rich intoxicating aroma of fresh coffee has turned many an otherwise dull soul into an enthusiastic morning person. Normally once the coffee is roasted it takes roughly eight hours to lose almost half of that delicious fresh fragrance we all love so much.
A true pioneer from his time, Francesco Illy was the first to think of, and attempt to package coffee in cans that were filled with inert Nitrogen. The goal of course was to keep the coffee fresh longer. The invention allowed Illy to begin its journey towards global markets. The system allows your coffee to stay fresh for upto two years. Today we can see the same concept in use all around wearing the face of the coffee pods we love and use.
Plaques Of Certificates On Their Wall
Over the decades since its launch, Illy has gathered up an arsenal of certificates and commendations through their work.
Illy ensured they were the first company in the whole of Europe to acquire the ISO 9001 certificate. The quality of their production system has been monitored since 1996.
Conscious of the company’s impact on the environment, Illy acquired the ISO 14001 certification in 2003. With a goal to make small changes to ensure sustainable advancements through their growth, it ensures the company’s environmental footprint is monitored.
Illys’ efforts towards maintaining a clear supply chain were rewarded when they were awarded the first-ever certificate for the Responsible Supply Chain Process by DNVGL, an outside accredited certification body.
The company also procured EMAS refrigeration in 2004 which declared its dedication to continue the environmental impact of its industrial activities.
The company’s policy strives to provide the best outcome to everyone it is associated with at every level of the coffee process. Starting at the farmers and roasters to the consumers and stakeholders.
Working with the simple premise of ‘anything worth sustaining must be excellent,’ Illy refuses to make the distinction between sustainability and quality. They have been committed to environmental, social and economic sustainability throughout their long run.
The company is constantly working in conjunction with the staff at the Università del caffè using their research and resources to come up with models with the least negative impact on the environment.
One of the results of these efforts is the discovery of a new heating system for the company’s coffee plants. The heat created during the coffee roasting process is harnessed and works as the solution to the plants hot water requirements.
The university now has twenty- eight branches imparting knowledge and resources all across the globe.
Coffee Cafe Time
Launched in 1933, by Francesco Illy, the caffè spread through Europe working as the official envoy for espresso on the continent. It took them another forty-seven years to reach the US. The cafe was launched with the hope to expose the world to what a traditional Italian bar and traditional Italian coffee were like.
Today, the brand has more than 265 cafes scattered all across the world that offer everything from salads and sandwiches to pastries and cakes along with variations of your favorite caffeinated beverages and Italian food. They even cater for special corporate and social events.
Creators behind the scenes also work to get you new unique recipes that change with the season. They also offer a range of cold, hot, and specialty coffee beverages for the culinary artists amongst you. If you’re in the mood for something more adventurous, there are a host of recipes that have varied spirits as one of the ingredients.
This year Illy cafe has partnered with the International Talent Support (ITS), an event for spotting young creative talent from all over the world in the field of jewelry, fashion, and accessory design. From March 2020 the cafe has donned the title of being a benefit corporation with the aim of working responsibly, sustainably, and most importantly transparently towards the people.
The online and physical Illy shops sell everything from coffee, loose tea, travel mugs, tote bags, coffee recipe books, and coffee machines to pieces from their prized art collection and many other things. You can also customize and curate gifts according to your needs and preferences or present them to someone else.
Experience of Experiments!
Apart from Coffee, and the cafes that sell them, Illy has always had an eye out for something new. It is a company that doesn’t hesitate to take risks. Out there to experiment and capture senses! Let’s see how.
Example A: In 2009 while on the lookout for the next big thing, Illy decided to partner up with Coca-Cola. The collaboration resulted in the launch of Illy Issimo, a range of exciting coffee-flavored energy drinks that were sure to take the market by storm. The drinks were available in a variety of flavors including mochaccino caffè no sugar, latte macchiato, cappuccino, and others, and were first sampled on an AirTran flight in 2011. Quite fascinating, don’t you think?
Always heard that coffee is also an art. This is a real example of how.
It wasn’t just science and technology, the Illy family was also deeply committed to the arts. Andrea Illy offered well-known artists the chance to help design the espresso coffee cups for the company. It saw some truly innovative works by artists including David Byrne, James Rosenquist, Jeff Koons, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Rauschenberg, and others. Illy asked the various artists to turn the mundane object known only for its utility, into a work of art. A few years down the line, the company tried again asking artists to use Illy coffee cans as the canvas. You can see samples of the work within the Illy gallery wherever you choose to go visit.
Since 2003 Illy has partnered with Venice La Biennale, one of the world’s most noted cultural events every year in order to cement its place in the world of Arts.
Time To Get Schooled
Illy’s dedication to dominating the world of coffee cannot be doubted. The company has its own university of coffee in Brazil called Università del Caffè since 1999. They offer courses along with research and innovation in anything even remotely connected to the coffee industry.
The university also holds shorter seminars in culinary institutes all across the world on the art of preparing varied caffeinated concoctions.
For eight years the company worked in close contact with and funded the Ernesto Illy Trieste Science Prize up to 2012 in association with The World Academy of Sciences. The aim of the act was to bring to center stage the science and research from the developing corners of the world.
Let’s Talk Numbers
You’re not going to need to become Tom Cruise from Jerry Mcguire and yell at us to show you the money. Illy is quite happy to boast about their achievements.
Since its timid first steps into the world, this tiny little company has grown into an industry giant. Today, there are more than one hundred thousand retailers that sell the brand globally.
The company boasts a 520.5 million euro turnover in 2019 alone and annual estimated revenue of five hundred and fifty-one million. In 2019 Illy had a global net sales of 20.3 million US dollars, a number that is estimated to increase this year. The annual revenue of the company at the close of 2018 was close to 453.5 million US dollars.
Combined Culture Of Tech, Science, Art
The company launched the Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards in 2015 to give due attention and credit to the innovative and efforts of coffee growers around the globe.
For the eighth year in a row Illy made it on Ethisphere Institute’s list of the world’s most ethical companies of 2020. Over the course of the last eight decades or so, Illy has managed to reach out to over one hundred and forty countries with roughly two hundred and sixty nine cafes offering unique, changing and challenging menus.
Illy was founded with an aim to provide the best coffee in the world and has used everything from technology and science to art culture and to do just that. Call it, brewing up varied aspect to attain that perfect cup of Joe. With an open mind keen to explore and grow while being mindful about their impact on everything and everyone around, the company seems destined to continue to rule for a long time to come.