Taste Radio Episode 165

illycaffè: Andrea Illy


It’s the first name in espresso and, not coincidentally, the last name of our interview guest in this week’s episode

Illy has for decades been one of the world’s most enduring coffee companies and is renowned for its singular, signature blend of coffee, commitment to quality standards and ethical responsibility. Led by chairman Andrea Illy, the third-generation leader of the Italian company and one of the global coffee industry’s most influential figures, Illy revenues topped $540 million in 2018.

As part of a wide-ranging conversation, Andrea spoke about his approach to running his family’s business and how it has evolved over the years, the three most important attributes for “good coffee,” how consolidation and climate change have impacted the industry and why Illy has long advocated direct trade with coffee farmers. He also explained his perspective that coffee should be treated with the same reverence as wine and why positioning it as an energy drink is “like using a Ferrari to go shopping.” This episode is presented by ZoomEssence, the cool-tech powder flavor people.

In this Episode

2:52: Interview: Andrea Illy, Chairman, illycaffè —  Illy met with Taste Radio editor/producer Ray Latif in New York City where he spoke about the company’s focus and what differentiates it from other coffee producers. He also discussed the origins of illy brand and of his passion for coffee innovation, the company’s contributions to espresso-specific technologies and its pioneering role in direct trade coffee sourcing. Later, he explained the company’s approach to consistency in the quality of its coffee, and how climate change threatens to derail the industry’s current growth. He also spoke about the impact that Starbucks has had on awareness about and access to better coffee, how entrepreneurial coffee brands are critical to the industry’s success (“differentiation is the only alternative to commoditization”), why pricing coffee like wine makes sense, and the importance of maintaining independent ownership of the company.

Also Mentioned

illycaffè, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Starbucks