The story of illycaffè begins in far-off 1933 , the year that Francesco Illy chose the city of Trieste to start a business based on a simple idea: to offer the finest coffee in the world . To celebrate eighty years and more since the company was founded, illy is launching the Heritage Collection , its first collection of espresso cups to commemorate milestones in illycaffè’s development.
The six espresso cups in the new illy Heritage Collection tell the story of how the Trieste-based company has brought about change through technological innovation, revolutionizing the way we make, consider and enjoy coffee. Each of the six coffee cups marks a different stage in the brand’s evolution . Each individual cup is adorned with a historic golden illy logo and the date of its creation.
From the day he founded his company, Francesco Illy faithfully pursued total quality, selecting the finest raw materials and revolutionizing the coffee industry. In the 1930s, he patented a cutting-edge pressurization system that could preserve the coffee’s aroma and freshness, making it possible to send his products everywhere. He then invented the Illetta , the forebear of today’s espresso machines.
During the years of the Italian economic boom, illy entered the nation’s households with its new rounded tins of ground coffee . Francesco’s son Ernesto Illy continued his father’s quest for quality and excellence at every stage of processing by setting up the company’s first laboratory , which was to act as a crucible for innovation. The company also began a special relationship with the world of creativity , working with the most famous graphic artists and illustrators of the day for its advertising.
The company moved to its historic headquarters on Via Flavia in Trieste. Work was carried out to expand the chemistry lab and the departments responsible for coffee-making and packaging. At this time, the company began to expand internationally , setting up its first facilities outside Italy. The company’s products earned prominence after they were presented in elegant glass vases that made the most of coffee beans’ natural beauty. The company logo also underwent expansion, growing to emblazon the entire tin with the legend “illycaffè”.
During the 1970s, good quality became accessible to all. illy pioneered single-portion systems for espresso-making after it began to make paper coffee pods industrially. These pods became the E.S.E. (Easy Serving Espresso) international standard. The functionally-shaped pod contained a perfect portion of coffee, ground ideally to brew an outstanding espresso anytime, anywhere.
In the 1980s and 1990s, well-being and pleasure were all the rage. illy launched its unique blend : a mixture of 100% Arabica coffees that struck the perfect balance between sweet, acidic and bitter. The blend was the result of a rigourous selection of beans using the first electronic machine capable of recognizing and rejecting imperfect beans.
Over the last two decades, illycaffè has intensified its connections with the art world . As an inevitable consequence of this encounter between goodness and beauty, artists have reinterpreted the brand’s values, emotions and excellence to create a unique synthesis. The current logo, for example, is by James Rosenquist – one of the founders of American Pop Art – and dates back to 1996. Earlier, in 1991 Matteo Thun had designed the famous espresso cup sporting the illy logo. Since then, a host of contemporary artists have created a personalized espresso cup for the illy Art Collection , a veritable collection of miniature masterpieces for everyday use.