Illycaffè

A cup of illy coffee is the final act in a long and varied journey. It is the end-product of a veritable obsession with quality that began all the way back in 1933, the year when Francesco Illy chose Trieste to start up a business based on one simple idea: to offer the best coffee to the world. That business is illycaffè.

Worldwide, illycaffè produces and sells a unique blend of premium coffee made of nine qualities of pure Arabica. The balance of these ingredients, which come from the wonderful work of the people who lives on the paradises of coffee based in South America, Central America, India and Africa, is the reason why illy’s unique taste and aroma always remains constant in every cup of illy coffee enjoyed anywhere around the world.

The history of illycaffè began when the Hungarian-born Francesco Illy first came to Trieste during the First World War as a soldier with the Austro-Hungarian army. It was here that he found the two great loves of his life: his Italian wife and coffee.

Francesco Illy was behind two of the most important innovations in the coffee field: in 1935, the “Illetta”, the forerunner of today’s professional espresso coffee machines, and one year before, in 1934, the pressurization which replaced the air in packaging with inert pressurized gas, enabling the company to pursue its international vocation.

In 1956, the founder’s son Ernesto Illy took over the company. Ernesto set up a research lab that was to become a crucible for illy patents and innovation. Ernesto had a passion for the science of coffee. So passionate was he about sharing his knowledge that the international media and public soon nicknamed him “Papa Bean” and “the Espresso Missionary”.

In the 80’s Riccardo Illy, one of Ernesto sons, introduced into the company an innovative approach to marketing, distribution and new markets.

In 1994 Andrea Illy was appointed CEO of the company and, since 2005, also Chairman. Over the years he led the company’s internationalization, innovating processes, culture and quest for quality.

Ernesto Illy died in February 2008, leaving a great sense of loss in the coffee industry and among everyone who knew him. The Fondazione Ernesto Illy was founded in his name in February 2009, to develop and further the legacy of his ideas, activities and developments that he left as his moral heritage.

In 2016, Andrea Illy was confirmed as the company’s Chairman and, for the first time, a non-family member, Massimiliano Pogliani, was appointed CEO.

La storia di illycaffè e le tappe della sostenibilità

1932

THE FIRST PATENT

Application for a patent for pressurization in Italy (issued in 1934). In 1933 the patent is issued in Germany.

1933

FOUNDATION OF ILLYCAFFÈ

Francesco Illy founds illycaffè.

1934

LAUNCH OF ILLETTA

The Illetta coffee machine is launched.

1935

DEVELOPMENT OF PRESSURISATION

Francesco Illy invents pressurization.

1965

THE TRIESTE HEADQUARTERS

The current headquarters in Trieste, illycaffè’s production plant, is opened.

1974

PODS: ILLY LEADS THE WAY

Illy is the first company in the world to industrialize and market pods for making bar-standard coffee anywhere.

1988

DIRECT CONTACT WITH PRODUCERS

illycaffè buys coffee directly from producers, incentivizing quality through an economic surplus.

1991

AWARD FOR COFFEE QUALITY

First edition of the Premio Ernesto Illy por la Qualidade do Cafè Sustentável para Espresso in Brazil, which has always been coordinated by Anna Illy.

1992

LAUNCH OF THE ILLY ART COLLECTIONS

The illy Art Collections are launched based on an artistic reinterpretation of the white espresso cup designed by Matteo Thun.

1992

QUALITÉ FRANCE CERTIFICATION

illycaffè obtains the product conformity certification issued by Qualité France SAS.

1996

LAUNCH OF THE CURRENT LOGO

Artist James Rosenquist creates the new illy logo.

1996

THE FIRST TO OBTAIN ISO 9001

illycaffè becomes the first coffee company to obtain ISO 9001 certification for its quality management system.

1997

ESTABLISHMENT OF AROMALAB

illycaffè’s laboratory where the chemistry and aromatic profile of coffee are studied, and the quality of green and roasted coffee is evaluated.

1999

WATER, A PRECIOUS COMMODITY

illycaffè improves producers’ coffee growing and processing techniques by reducing water consumption.

1999

FOUNDATION OF THE UNIVERSITÀ DEL CAFFÈ

The centre of excellence to promote and spread highquality coffee culture around the world, from bean to cup.

2002

PROGRAMMES IN GUATEMALA

illycaffè develops a microentrepreneurship and training programme for coffee farmers in Guatemala. 

2002

CREATION OF SENSORYLAB, TECHLAB AND BIOLAB

illycaffè creates another 3 laboratories in which it carries out continuous research on all aspects of coffee.

2003

LAUNCH OF THE RETAIL BUSINESS

Espressamente illy is established, a chain of franchised bars that offer the authentic experience of Italian coffee all over the world.

2003

ISO14001 ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION

illycaffè certifies that its management system is capable of keeping the environmental impacts of its activities under control. 

2003

ROASTING WITH A LOW ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The new roasting plant in Trieste, featuring a coffee roasting process with low fume emissions, becomes operational.

2004
LAUNCH OF THE ERNESTO ILLY SCIENCE PRIZE

illycaffè, as part of Trieste’s candidacy for Expo 2008, began a collaboration with TWAS - The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World and launched an award dedicated to researchers from emerging and developing countries.

2004

EMAS ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION

illycaffè improves its environmental commitment with EMAS to promote constant improvements in the environmental efficiency of its industrial activities. 

2005

EMAS AWARD

illycaffè’s commitment to improving the environmental aspects of production is recognised at an international level. 

2005

PROGRAMMES IN ETHIOPIA

With the support of the International Coffee Organisation, illycaffè launches a project to demonstrate that the quality of Ethiopian coffee, correctly processed after the harvest, can compete with the world’s best varieties. 

2005

BRC - BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM CERTIFICATION

illycaffè increases its commitment to certifications for safe food and products. 

2005

ESTABLISHMENT OF FOOD SCIENCE LAB

The laboratory dedicated to food and “consumable” coffee-based products.

2006

IPERESPRESSO

The Iperespresso capsule system arrives on the market.

2007

IFS CERTIFICATION

With the International Food Standard certification, illycaffè continues its commitment to quality and food safety.

2008

LAUNCH OF ILLY ISSIMO

illy issimo is the new “ready-to-drink” coffee, the result of a joint venture with The Coca-Cola Company. 

2008

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ERNESTO ILLY FOUNDATION

A foundation is dedicated to Ernesto Illy to further develop his teachings and ideas. 

2008

OXFORD UNIVERSITY

In collaboration with the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute, illycaffè supports a research project on coffee growing sustainability. 

2008

ATLANTIC FOREST IN BRAZIL

illycaffè starts a collaboration with Istituto Terra for a reforestation project in a vast area of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. 

2008

AWARDS FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN BRAZIL

illycaffè launches the Award for Sustainable Conduct in Brazil, which rewards producers who achieve sustainability targets. 

2010

ISO 17025 ACCREDITATION

illycaffè’s AromaLab and SensoryLab laboratories are accredited by Accredia.

2011

“RESPONSIBLE SUPPLY CHAIN PROCESS” CERTIFICATION

illycaffè is the first company in the world to obtain this certification from DNV GL, which places quality and value creation for all stakeholders at the heart of the concept of sustainability, with a particular focus on the cultivation and selection of green coffee beans. 

2011

ESTABLISHMENT OF ILLYSHOP AND ILLYTECA

illyshop: single-brand boutique with a complete range of illy products. illyteca is a shop that offers products, technologies and accessories for all the Group’s proprietary brands.

2012

FIRST SUSTAINABLE VALUE REPORT

illycaffè starts a process of stakeholder communication and involvement, managing and communicating its commitment to sustainability. 

2012

GLOBAL COMPACT

illycaffè joins the United Nations Global Compact. 

2012

CARBON FOOTPRINT

In collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, illycaffè launches a project to calculate the carbon footprint of the entire product life cycle.

2013

2021 WORLD’S MOST ETHICAL COMPANY

illycaffè is the only Italian company to be included in the 2013 list of the most ethical companies in the world compiled by the Etisphere Institute.

2014

ICRT - INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER RESEARCH & TASTING

illycaffè obtains the highest score among all the roasters analyzed in the independent survey conducted by the international IRCT consortium for its commitment to social and environmental responsibility towards coffee growers.

2015

EXPO 2015

illycaffè, Official Coffee Partner, also devoted to sustainability. illy, the Official Coffee Partner of Expo Milano 2015, is chosen by Expo as exclusive curator of the Coffee Cluster, dealing with the design and management of contents and events, while hosting and promoting the participation of the ten producer countries within the Cluster. 

2015

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP WITH UNIDO

In collaboration with UNIDO, illycaffè works on the “Improving the Sustainability and Inclusiveness of the Ethiopian Coffee Value Chain through Private and Public Partnership” project to develop the entire Ethiopian coffee sector. 

2015

PARTNERSHIP WITH SENA IN COLOMBIA

illycaffè signs a declaration of intent with SENA – Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, the Colombian national public institution – for the launch of an international collaboration to share knowledge and good practices in coffee production and preparation in order to benefit both producers and consumers

2016

ERNESTO ILLY INTERNATIONAL COFFEE AWARD

Launch of the award for the best coffee chosen from among those grown in the regions that make up illy’s unique blend, involving all the growers with which the company works. It is also a tribute to Ernesto Illy, a visionary leader who was always committed to scientific research.

2017

SIGNING OF THE AGREEMENT TO SUPPORT THE REINTEGRATION OF EXFARC FIGHTERS IN COLOMBIA

An agreement with ETCR (Territorial Spaces for Training and Reincorporation) and Ascafé (Association of small coffee growers) is signed to increase the quality and production capacity of coffee in the Cauca Department where former FARC fighters and small producers live, encouraging local economic development. illycaffè carries out training sessions in areas that were previously affected by civil war, aimed at victims of the conflict, former fighters who are reintegrating into civilian life, associations of women coffee producers and rural schoolteachers, whose training programme includes a module entirely dedicated to high-quality coffee production.

2018

NEW GOVERNANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY POLICY

illycaffè confirms its commitment to sustainability with a new Governance and Sustainability Policy, in line with the objectives of the SDGs set out by the United Nations.

2019

SOCIETÀ BENEFIT

illycaffè further strengthens its commitment to pursuing a sustainable business model that integrates social and environmental goals by adopting Società Benefit status and including this commitment in its articles of association.

2021

ILLYCAFFE’ BECOME B-CORP

illycaffè is the first Italian coffee company to receive the B Corp certification.

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