Founded in 1933 in Trieste, Italy, illy is the quality and innovation leader in the espresso coffee industry. According to Coffee and Cocoa International, an industry trade magazine, "illy caffe's entire ethos is built on quality."
Illy produces a unique single blend of gourmet coffee for both brewed and espresso preparation made from 100% high quality Arabica beans, which is tailor-packaged for sale to restaurants, cafes, homes and offices. In Italy, illy is the leading brand in the hotel, restaurant, and bar segment. Each day, over two million illy espresso drinks are served in Italy alone. And each day more than three million people in the world who know quality, choose illy for their espresso coffee.
Quality, research, innovation
In line with the illy mission to "delight consumers all over the world with an excellent cup of espresso coffee and do everything possible to improve its quality", research on coffee has had a strategic role for many years at illy caff . The company's objective is to fully utilize the knowledge gained through its research to continuously improve the quality of its product.
Espresso coffee, while apparently a simple drink, is in reality a complex product. It is derived from 1500 chemical substances (800 volatile and 700 soluble), and when prepared correctly involves 13 independent chemical and physical variables. Research on espresso is extremely complex and highly specialized, requiring a multidisciplinary approach involving the fields of agronomy, botany, physics, mathematics, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, statistics and computer science, among others.
By applying the scientific method to quality improvement, illy caff has built a model program for innovative research and development, closely collaborating with the academic world through important university institutes, research centers and expert researchers hired for specific projects.
From bean to cup
The illy coffee blends are obtained by carefully selecting from different sources the best Arabica beans, which have a richer taste and lower caffeine content than the less-prized (and less expensive) Robusta beans.
Illy, in a joint venture with Sortex Ltd., designed its own state-of-the-art electronic machinery that examines each individual coffee bean, eliminating the inferior ones. About 50 coffee beans are needed to produce a one-ounce cup of espresso, and only one bad bean can ruin its flavor.
Illy perfectly roasts its coffee for full flavor without burning or over roasting the beans. The roasted coffee is then air-cooled. Another illy caff exclusive is the pressurization technique used by the company to preserve its coffee. In this process, air is extracted from the cans and replaced with inert gasses at a higher-than-atmospheric level of pressure. This method guarantees a longer preservation time, maintaining the coffee's freshness for over 24 months until it is prepared. At the same time it "ages" the coffee, improving its aroma over time by causing its volatile aroma compounds to bind with the oils that are contained in the beans. Simple vacuum packing cannot achieve this flavor transformation. The effect of this aging process is similar in many ways to the development of complex flavors when a fine red wine is aged under the proper conditions.
Making Espresso Easy
A superior blend of coffee is not sufficient to guarantee an excellent cup of coffee or espresso. Particular care and attention must also be paid to its preparation. To meet the demand for an easier way of preparing espresso, illy caff introduced the E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso) system, which guarantees perfect results every time with a simple, fast, and clean procedure. The system consists of a pre-measured single portion of roasted, ground, and pressed espresso coffee sealed between two layers of filter paper, which can be used with a traditional espresso machine that has been fitted with a special extraction chamber.
The illy family, three generations of innovation
Illy is the world's espresso coffee authority and for three generations has led the industry in innovation, technology and knowledge. illy caff was founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy. An inventor and industry leader, in 1935 he created the "illetta", the first breakthrough automatic espresso machine that substituted compressed air for steam. He also developed illy's pressurized packing system for preserving coffee.
After World War II, control of the company passed to Ernesto Illy, son of the founder. Armed with a university degree in chemistry, he founded a research laboratory that became a breeding ground for inventions and patents. Illy currently holds 17 patents on various aspects of coffee processing and preparation methods.
Today, the leadership of illy caff has passed to the second and third generations of this entrepreneurial family that continues to devote its time and energy to improving coffee quality and expanding the company. The family combines the heritage and tradition of premium coffee with cutting edge modern technology. Chemist, author and Chief Executive Officer, Andrea Illy, leads the company with other active family members: his father, Ernesto Illy, Chairman of illy, his mother Anna (board member), and siblings, Anna (board member, and Riccardo (vice president), who is also the current mayor of Trieste.
E.S.E. a Revolution in Espresso
In coffee preparation there are many variables. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the exceedingly precise preparation of espresso. "Preparation is very complex, but crucial, as it has a direct impact on perception of the brand," says Andrea Illy. With this objective in mind, illy introduced and patented the E.S.E. system (Easy Serving Espresso). This process of making espresso pods is nothing short of a revolution in espresso coffee.
The preparation and consumption of espresso at home and in the office is destined to change. The future lies in the "pod", a prepackaged single portion of roasted, ground, and pressed coffee, sealed between two layers of filter paper which can be used with a specially-modified espresso machine, guaranteeing a perfect result every time an espresso just like those served in an Italian coffee bar or by an Italian barista.
Known as E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso), this technology was designed and patented by illy more than ten years ago in order to simplify espresso preparation, and guarantee a consistent level of quality. Today the company has placed this technology at the disposal of the market, offering patent concessions free of charge to espresso machine manufacturers and coffee producers who agree to respect the industry standard, thereby ensuring the quality guaranteed by the E.S.E. trademark. To date, more than 100 roasters and machine manufacturers have joined the E.S.E. standard.
Independent controlling organizations ensure not only that the technical standards of the E.S.E. system are respected, but also that the quality of the prepared product, which must be taste-tested by a panel of experts, is consistently high. With the E.S.E. system the 4 key elements required to transform a simple coffee into a superior espresso are present: a high quality coffee blend, a perfect grind, a clean and efficient machine, and its correct use.
With the E.S.E. system, the consumption of espresso coffee is expected to grow, as consumption shifts from the coffee bar to the home and to the office. This dramatic growth has occurred in the past in the rare instances when new products were introduced on the market with an open industry standard for example with the VHS video system, and the computer CD-ROM.
The advantage of this open standard strategy is that the consumer is able to choose from a wide variety of both coffee brands, packaged in single servings, and models of espresso machines, all at different price ranges. The E.S.E. system is also the ideal means to penetrate new international markets where Italian-style espresso coffee is still unknown. In fact, since its invention, E.S.E. has permitted illy to introduce the United States and other countries to the culture of Italian-style espresso coffee, which has now become a global phenomenon.
How Easy is it to use the E.S.E. system?
The E.S.E. system consists of a specially modified espresso machine and pre-packaged single servings of coffee, known as E.S.E. servings or espresso pods.
The E.S.E. espresso machine has a specially shaped extraction chamber, into which the E.S.E. serving fits perfectly. Together, they produce a superior cup of espresso. In order to guarantee a consistent level of quality, specific technical parameters for such fundamental characteristics as water temperature and pressure have been developed. Each espresso machine prototype must adhere to these standards before permission to use the E.S.E. trademark is granted, and models already in production are periodically controlled to ensure that they continue to meet these requirements.
The E.S.E. serving is a pre-packaged individual portion of roasted, ground, and pressed coffee, sealed between two layers of filter paper. It is specially shaped to fit perfectly inside the extraction chamber of the E.S.E. espresso machine. illy is the leader in US espresso pod sales.
The amount of coffee, its grind, and the degree to which it is pressed have all been specifically pre-defined to ensure a perfect cup of espresso. Besides guaranteeing a consistent level of quality, the E.S.E. system is considerably cleaner than traditional methods of preparing espresso because there is no need to handle the coffee grounds, it is perfect portion control with no muss, no fuss.
With the E.S.E. system, no special skills or experience are required to prepare a cup of espresso. The user must follow four simple steps:
- Take the serving (espresso pod) out of its package
- Place it in the espresso machine filter
- Insert and lock the filter holder
- Push the button and let water run through the pod for the necessary amount of time (25-30 seconds maximum).
The result is always a perfect cup of espresso. Patents for the main components of the E.S.E. system the "pod" and the extraction chamber of the espresso machines are held by illy. These patents are granted free of charge to espresso machine and coffee producers who agree to comply with the established manufacturing standards. "All the different brands selling to the home market were doing so with proprietary technology, so that the consumer had no choice, he had to take the machine associated with the brand of coffee," explains Andrea Illy. "This was slowing the growth of the market as a whole. By opening our patent the result is more choice for the consumer. They can choose from a variety of machines at different price ranges and a variety of E.S.E. coffee pods."
The requirements for E.S.E. servings are a shape that is compatible with the E.S.E. espresso machine, and a high quality of espresso coffee that must be judged by independent coffee testing institutes.
The advantages of the E.S.E system
E.S.E. = a quality cup of
With the E.S.E. pod and the E.S.E. espresso machine, anyone can prepare a consistently good cup of espresso coffee.
E.S.E. = easy to use
The E.S.E. system eliminates the need to measure the correct amount of ground coffee (with the risk of spilling the grounds), and press it accurately.
E.S.E. = cleaner
No time is wasted cleaning the shelf, filter, spray, and grid each time the machine is used.
E.S.E. = less maintenance
The inherent cleanliness of the E.S.E. system also drastically reduces the need for the periodic cleanings that are necessary to keep the espresso machine functioning properly and protect the aroma of the coffee.
E.S.E. = no wasted
The coffee is accurately measured and hermetically sealed in filter paper at the production plant, thereby eliminating the risk of wasting the product, by either using too much or spilling the grounds during preparation.
E.S.E. = respect for the
The E.S.E. pod is environmentally friendly, as it is made up of about 7 grams of coffee and 0.2 grams of filter paper, both natural products that do not harm the environment.
E.S.E. = versatility
With an interchangeable filter, the E.S.E. system may also be used with regular ground coffee. In this way, the consumer may choose either to take advantage of the quality and service offered by the E.S.E. pod, or to save money by using regular ground coffee or to alternate between these two options.
E.S.E. = freedom of
choice for the consumer
The E.S.E. system allows consumers to buy their favorite market brands of both espresso machines and pods. Pod: a single, pre-packaged portion of roasted, ground end pressed coffee sealed between two layers of filter paper.