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Illy, a coffee like no other in the world
Rome - (Ign) - 70 years of history, to achieve a record which is absolutely impossible to match: that of a company of 500 employees, with a turnover of over € 200 million, half accounted for in Italy and half abroad, producing a single clearly-defined blend of coffee. This is the secret of Illy, one of the leading producers of coffee in Italy and the world, which boasts a record number of quality awards and which can allow itself the luxury of selling its product on all the world's markets at a significantly higher price than any of its competitors. At the head of this extremely special company is Andrea Illy, grandson of the founder Francesco, who in 1933 started out on this adventure by setting himself the goal of producing the best coffee in the world.
Mr Illy, have you managed to realise your grandfather's goal?
"It's not up to me to judge the result of our work. But deep in my heart I'm convinced, that yes, our coffee, if not the best in the world, is definitely one of the best, and is absolutely unique and unmistakable. There is no other producer which only makes a single blend, roasted only in a single plant (in Trieste), and made only for espresso machines".
Basically, no product diversification, and no expansion of the potential market: you have deliberately decided to invest entirely and exclusively on those coffee beans?
"Exactly. For 70 years we have been investing in absolute quality. And this has involved significant research. Few know that behind a cup of good coffee there is complex technology which affects every phase of the process: from searching for the best raw material to conservation of the finished product. Some of the most important innovations ever introduced into the market of coffee have come from Illy. The first is the espresso coffee machine. It was invented by my grandfather, and today can be seen in any Italian bar. Thanks to the espresso machine it is possible to make coffee with water under pressure at 90°, thus avoiding the risk of burning the grounds. The second is represented by our pressurised containers, which guarantee perfect product conservation. The third is that of single portion sachets for offices and catering. Now everyone produces them, but we were the first".
What was the most important innovation in the history of Illy?
"Our history is made up of continuous small innovations, often borrowed from other industrial sectors, but the most important change was definitely that which took place in the 1990s. Up until then we had bought our raw materials on international markets from a few large wholesalers and importers. Then we began to look for the best coffee where it was produced, in Brazil, Africa, Central America and Asia. We thus set up a network of producers that work exclusively for us; we provided them with the best agronomic expertise, and thus allowed a great improvement in the finished product and, at the same time, improved the working conditions and economic status of the producers".
What strategies will you implement to further develop your business?
"No radical change, just go on along the road we have already marked out. We'll continue to focus on the division of espresso coffee and with a single product, and to focus on foreign markets in order to go well beyond the present threshold of 50% of turnover from exports. We will continue to develop the many initiatives already started, such as the involvement of great artists in designing new Illy coffee cups. We will take the authentic Italian espresso everywhere, to every country the world, as missionaries of pleasure".
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