Both Brands play important roles in the coffee industry. What I am doing here is just introducing their history, development and features briefly, so we can understand them better.
illy was founded in 1933 in the port city of Trieste in northeast Italy. Its founder was Mr. Francesco Illy. Mr Illy was an inventor and a leader in the coffee industry. He invented the first automatic espresso machine ‘illetta’ in 1935, replacing the old steam method with a new compressed air method. After World War II, control of the company was handed over to his son Ernesto Illy. Because he was a chemist with a PHD in chemistry, Ernesto Illy established a research laboratory in the company where many unique unique inventions and patents were later born.
In 1996, famous modern artist James Rosenquist recreated the illy image, using a bright red box with bold white「illy」text inside. The appealing, eye-catching new logo was designed to update the illy concept and to welcome in the new millennium century. Here it is.
LAVAZZA was founded in 1895 as a grocery store and gradually moved towards coffee being their only product. After a hundred years of development, LAVAZZA has become the world’s third largest coffee roaster and, with a presence in more than 80 countries around the world, annual sales volume is around 86,000 tons (140 million cups), with Italy making up 47% of the market.
Its founder was Luigi Lavazza who devoted his whole life to the coffee business. In 1895, Luigi Lavazza bought a small grocery store, Paissa Olivero, for 26,000 liras (about 20 dollars) in Torina, northeast Italy. This store was the seed of the LAVAZZA kingdom.
In those days, grocery stores played dual roles as producers and retailers. Luigi Lavazza bought fresh beans then roasted them according to the customer’s preference . Because Luigi liked roasting coffee very much, he soon fully mastered his roasting skills. After World War I, his three sons Mario, Beppe and Pericle retired from the army and joined the business. Luigi Lavazza then had the capacity to develop his business from retailer to wholesaler, which was a big step on the road towards his successful coffee kingdom.
In the late 70s, LAVAZZA introduced a very popular advertising campain: ‘The more you drink it down, the more LAVAZZA picks you up’. This catchy ad brought LAVAZZA into the European market and turned the company into a multinational corporation.
Both illy and LAVAZZA are very successful brands in the coffee industry. The main difference is that LAVAZZA sell their coffee mainly to home consumers. On the other hand, illy focuses on formulas, packaging and marketing for high-end consumers and restaurants. In northern Italy, you will often see an illy sign in local coffee shop, but you will rarely see a LAVAZZA sign.
As for the flavor, both company tastes are typical for espresso, and I don’t want to make any rash comments. illy use 100% Arabica coffee beans that are roasted relatively light and they choose beans with mild flavor and light acidity, so that illy coffee tastes sweet and smooth. On the other hand, LAVAZZA coffee notes are more typical of espresso, with a great balance of acidity and bitterness. It feels “stronger” to drink, almost like drinking strong alcohol. A small cup of LAVAZZA coffee can leave a long aftertaste.