Illy History

The story begins in Trieste, Italy, the Adriatic port town where coffee first entered Europe, and where in 1933, company founder Francesco Illy developed the modern espresso machine.  The story is still being written today by President and CEO Andrea Illy, representing a third generation of illy family leadership.


Rich and full-bodied, yet velvety smooth: distinctly illy.  Ask discerning coffee lovers what makes them passionate about illy, and chances are, this is what they’ll say.  You’ll hear it in 140 countries, where illy’s singular, signature blend – a rich symphony of nine pure, sustainably grown Arabica beans from four continents – delights millions of coffee lovers at home, at fine hotels, restaurants and cafes, and at work, every day.


Illy is where experience, taste, scientific curiosity, art and culture come together to create a multidimensional and multisensory pleasure in the cup. You can find it in every bean, and in every visually striking espresso machine illy designs; in the illy collection of cups produced by art’s contemporary masters; at every espressamente illy, the worldwide chain of Italian-style coffee bars; and in the Artistic del Gusto (“Artists of Taste”) international network of leading independent cafes and skilled baristas



We enjoy it every day, so it may seem simple.  But coffee is actually quite complex: a universe unto itself.  The study of coffee dates back to 1500, starting from a rudimentary exploration of its chemical identity.  Today’s coffee research encompasses multiple scientific disciplines including genetics, agronomy, botany, physics, mathematics, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, engineering, physiology and psychology.  
Any wonder illy saw fit to establish four research facilities of its own?

  • AROMALAB: For the study of the chemistry and flavor profile of coffee, and assessment of green and roasted coffee quality.
  • SENSORYLAB: For investigating the relationship between sensory stimuli triggered by coffee, and our cognitive and emotional responses.
  • TECHLAB: Where the learning from Aroma Lab and Sensory Lab are applied to new technologies and solutions to continuously improve illy’s signature blend.
  • BIOLAB: For the study of the many biological aspects coffee’s makeup, the characteristics of the coffee plant and the nature of the plant’s interactions in various climates and environments.