Illycaffè - Since 1933

Illy, one of Italy’s oldest espresso companies, was started in 1933 by the Illy family with a vision to introduce authentic Italian espresso culture around the world. Through his passion and dedication, mixed with his commitment to understanding and improving all aspects of coffee extraction on a molecular level, Dr. Ernesto Illy became known as the “father of espresso.”

For more than 85 years, illy’s mission has been to develop the perfect blend of 100% Arabica coffee, consistently roasted to perfection, scientifically packaged to preserve and enhance flavor, and delivered to over 140 countries world-wide. Illy espresso is sought around the world for its full bodied, complex and smooth flavors. illy is a leader in coffee culture by working on all the factors that go into the perfect cup of espresso: the blend, the machines, the preparation, the training of specialized bar staff and even the design of bars and venues where people can enjoy drinking coffee.

Still family owned and operated, illy is led by chairman and CEO, Andrea Illy, the third generation of the Illy family.

As a pioneer for the direct-trade model, the illy company has developed an innovative approach to growing and producing coffee that respects the earth and the people who farm it. By carefully balancing economic, environmental and social interests, illy is creating better partner experiences, stronger communities and a brighter future for everyone.

Illy Today

illy coffee is like no other. Expertly balanced with nine different blends, illy has a unique, unmistakeable flavor profile, still being perfected 80 years later. We invite you to take the difference today.

Illy works directly with farmers in tropical growing regions to pick the highest quality Arabica coffee beans. Illy uses between 9 –15 different Arabica beans to create its one blend. By using such a high number of different beans, illy can consistently blend in order to recreate a flavor profile and ensure a consistent flavor. Coffee quality is paramount to illy, so purchases are not made through brokers or from commodities markets. The illy team purchases directly from growers and pays a substantially higher than market price (up to 30% higher than ‘Fair Trade’) to obtain the best possible beans. Illy has ongoing, long-term relationships with growers, providing both financial and technical assistance when possible.

illy uses bi-chromatic sorting and ultra-violet sorting machines to detect and reject defective beans. This proprietary sorting method inspects every bean one at a time to eliminate unripe or fermented beans. As part of the ISO 9001 certification illy tests every coffee lot for the presence of pesticide residue, testing for 36 different types. No coffee with pesticide residue is purchased by illycaffe.

Illycaffè is considered to be one of the world's most sustainable and ethical companies because of their practices from the crop to cup.

Francesco Illy founded illy caffè in 1933 in Trieste. Since then, the dream of offering the best coffee in the world continues to be our mission, passion, and obsession.

The illy Timeline

1933 Francesco Illy founded the company in Trieste, Italy.

1935 Francesco Illy designed and patented the “illetta”, the first boiler-driven espresso machine. This was the predecessor of modern day espresso machines. Also, he invented pressurization, a revolutionary system for preserving the blend, which allowed coffee to be shipped across Italy.

1939 Illycaffè introduced the espresso culture to Northern Europe. Holland and Sweden were the first countries to discover the aroma and delight of concentrated coffee in a small cup.

1947 Francesco’s son, Ernesto, a chemistry graduate, came to the company. Ernesto strengthened the company’s passion for science and technology and created alliances with other businesses, science centers and universities.

1957 The can manufacturing unit was built, so that the preservation of the coffee aroma and flavor was also directly controlled and guaranteed by the company. The company's first chemistry laboratory was also established, as well as the initial production of coffee for home consumption in smaller-sized, round cans of ground illy coffee.

1965 The company moved to its current Trieste headquarters in Via Flavia, which houses the chemistry laboratory, the production of coffee and packaging materials and the packaging process.

1974 Illycaffè was the first company in the world to produce portioned coffee servings - individual coffee pods for preparing café-quality coffee at home or in the office in the simplest, safest and quickest way.

1988 Illycaffè patented the digital sorting machine, which guarantees bean perfection by “photographing” their shape and color.

1991 The designer Matteo Thun, based on an idea by Francesco Illy, created the signature white illy espresso cup, a synthesis of beauty and functionality. In this same year, the Brazil Award was instituted to reward, on a yearly basis, the Brazilian coffee growers who produce the best quality green coffee. A quality control laboratory, Assicafè, was also established in Brazil.

1992 The first series of illy collection cups was produced. Some are worth several hundred dollars today.

1996 The current illy logo – a red square with the brand name written in four soft white brushstrokes – was designed by artist James Rosenquist.

1998 Illycaffè founded AromaLab in the Area Science Park in Trieste, where the individual aromas making up the flavor of coffee are identified, studied and mapped.

2003 Illy opened a new roasting facility to increase production and reduce atmospheric emissions to well below the legal limit.

2004 Illy initiated the Cup of Kindness in Ethiopia. Cup of Kindness raisesFunds for Ethiopian schools and the campaign has helped to provide funding to build and sustain the illy Community School in the community of Moyale Woreda in South Ethiopia.

2005 Ernesto Illy’s son Andrea Illy took over as acting Chairman of illy s.p.a.

2006-2007 After the coffee serving and the E.S.E system, an innovative new system Metodo iperEspresso was launched for preparing "next generation" café quality espresso at home or at the workplace.

2008 Instituto Terra Partnership for reforestation of the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil

2008 Launches Sustainable Conduct Award for coffee producers in Brazil

2011 Partners with Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) to conduct research.

2011 Responsible Supply Chain Process Certification for green coffee - first ever certification of a company's entire supply chain.

2013 Illy Joins the List of World's Most Ethical Companies (and stays on this list today.)

2015 The Ernesto Illy Coffee Award goes global, to honor the hard work of small growers

2018 Illy introduced they new taller 3Kilo tin.