On November 1, 2016, illy caffè hosts the first annual Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award in New York City at the United Nations. A fitting title for the event named after the late visionary, Dr. Ernesto Illy, who was an international leader in the science of grading and choosing coffee; in promoting research on how coffee should be grown, and on engineering the machines and the way coffee is roasted and brewed.
The award gives recognition to illy’s top quality growers, who produce the best beans throughout coffee paradises across the world for the family-owned Italian roaster. The competing producers flew in from countries including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras India and Nicaragua. Having pioreered direct trade over 25 years ago in Brazil, illy’s relationships with its growers run deep and on a symbiotic path with its core values heavily emphasizing respect for the environment and people that nurture coffee as a fundamental part of doing business.
“It is truly an honor to name this industry award after my father, as coffee was his love and science gave him the power to sustain and grow coffee culture in every positive aspect,” stated Andrea Illy, Chairman and President of illycaffè s.p.a.
Over a 10-month periord, the illy Quality Lab in Trieste, Italy identified 3 different coffee lots per 9 distinct and important coffee producing countries representing the best quality coffees from the 2015 crop. In total, 27 coffee growers were invited to a special ceremony in New York City with the opportunity to be awarded as the best coffee from a jury of independent tasters that ranged from Michelin-stared chefs to coffee industry critics and journalists.
While recognizing the best coffee growers from around the world, illy also emphasized the impact of climate change on quality Arabica during a conference with coffee producers in which data was shared from Columbia University’s Earth Institute, a global authoritative institution on the topic that is pursuing in-depth analysis on its effect on the coffee industry.
“Climate change is the most severe threat facing agriculture production and the coffee sector especially high quality Arabica, which is more sensitive to weather than Robusta,” said Mr. Illy. “Any day in which the max temperature exceeds 95°F has a severe and damaging effect on Arabica coffee. Even small increases in temperatures under climate change can produce large decreases in yields, particularly in regions where temperatures are currently nearly optimal.”
According to the Earth Institute, as elevation increases, the potential of coffee production increases too — however, temperatures above 91.5°F at 3,280 feet above sea level are five times as damaging as they are at 830 feet above sea level. The higher elevations (average 2,296 feet) are where most coffee yields are derived.