No brand in coffee is as iconic as illy Caffè. The name not only represents a benchmark of quality, but also evokes the memory of the very arbiter of quality – Dr. Ernesto Illy. Dr. Illy literally wrote the book on espresso and serves today as the embodiment of the continuous pursuit of perfect coffee. Dr. Illy has passed, but his son, Andrea Illy now captains illy Caffè, the flagship of Grupo Illy.
One of the beautiful things about illy is that it is so multigenerational and rooted in quality. As the third generation of Illys to helm the company, Andrea Illy affirms that the primary purpose of illy is to reinforce and improve excellence in quality. This spans all aspects of the company’s operation including logistics, interaction with growers, the culture of coffee, the impact on the environment, and of course the handling of the coffee itself. “Quality is simple, illy will strive for the best coffee in world, the hard part is achieving it. We are still working toward it, my job is not to judge if we have succeeded or not, my job is to ensure that there is a total focus on continuing improvement.”
“As part of this commitment,” says Mr. Illy, “illy Caffè has formed the University of Coffee, which is dealing with the very broad coffee culture including multicultural experiences, cuisine professionals, coffee professionals and consumers, as well as coffee growers and associates. The scope of the course work ranges from half a day for enthusiastic consumers up to a master degree of coffee science lasting nine months.”
An important and necessary part of this commitment is the essential importance played by the experience of coffee and culture. Illy views an emphasis on art, music, and culture as important to the establishment of quality as laser spectrometers. The cultural experience of illy coffee transcends the beverage itself.
Andrea announced at the National Coffee Association the release of a new product group that focuses on Single Serving espresso for consumers. Illy however is no stranger to the single serve segment. Illy was one of the first companies to enter the single serve market with its EZPods. Sealed in foil, these pods were the first to provide the convenience of self contained pods and “de-complicate” the pre-brewing preparation concerns from the consumers quality equation. With this new product, available for the Francis, Francis platform – the proprietary consumer espresso system of illy Caffè, illy introduces a capsule that fundamentally changes the method of preparation. “The traditional method of preparing espresso is by percolation, our new proprietary capsule produces an infusion at high pressure followed by an emulsion. The result is a smoother and more pleasing experience to the consumer. This new capsule is being prepared for a machine produced by Cuisinart and will be available in the Spring 2013,” said Illy.
Illy continues, “Quality in single serve is dependent on the quality of the machine and the quality of the raw materials used in the capsule. The single serve products introduced by illy have been designed over four years and multiple iterations, ensures that illy is able to concentrate and focus on production of the capsules to provide a constantly improving process of quality.”
“The single serve market for portioned systems,” as described by Illy, “is growing, particularly in the US market in filtered coffee (Keurig). It is currently 8% and the expectation is for 15% by 2015, creating a situation where more and more consumers are preferring portion coffee over traditional brewed coffee. Increasing convenience, variety, and presents the opportunity for the consumers to make a choice dependent on their own taste requirements.”
The company is also adding to their product lines beyond the classic “illy Blend” that is the keystone of the company. It has been recently decided that illy will offer the individual elements of the illy blend as “monoarabicas” – single origin coffees. “This will deliver a more experiential moment for our consumers. The first three coffees that will be offered from the nine elements of the iconic illy blend are Brazilian, Guatemalan, and Ethiopian,” said Illy.