If you are a coffee lover, you have probably heard of Illy and Lavazza, which are two of the most well-known and popular Italian coffee brands. At first, it might be easy to assume that these two coffee brands are pretty much the same. However, if you dig a little deeper, there are some small – and bigger – differences between the two that are definitely worth being aware of before you decide which brand is going to be the best Italian coffee for you.
Is Illy coffee good? Illy is a coffee brand that was founded by Francesco Illy in Italy in 1933. It is a quintessentially Italian roasting company that specializes in the best Italian espresso beans production. The signature and superior quality coffee blend is produced by Illy in three different roast options: regular, dark, and decaf. Along with this, Illy offers single-origin 100% Arabica beans that they source from Costa Rica, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Guatemala, and India. Illy brings out Idillyum, its low-caffeine Arabica variety, on a seasonal basis. This particular blend is produced with beans that are grown in El Salvador’s rich, volcanic soil.
Illy coffee can be purchased in several different types including pre-ground coffee, E.S.E espresso coffee pods, and iperEspresso capsules. The pre-ground version of the coffee is kept fresher for as long as possible by packing in steel containers and pressurizing with inert gas rather than air.
Lavazza is another Italian espresso and coffee brand, founded in Turin in 1895 by Luigi Lavazza. Similar to Illy, this brand also uses coffee that is imported from various different countries around the world including Mexico, Central America, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Uganda, and Honduras. However, while Lavazza does offer some coffee that is made with 100% Arabica beans, most of the coffee products that they offer are blends of both Arabica and Robusta coffee.
Lavazza is a one of the best Italian coffee brands that is serious about supporting sustainable production and make this a high priority in their operations. They developed the Tierra Project, which seeks to promote sustainable programs for coffee agriculture in Colombia, Honduras, and Peru. The main aim is to not only improve the quality of the coffee but also improve and care for the environment while improving the working conditions of the plantation workers and others in the community. Similar to Illy, you can get Lavazza coffee as pre-ground coffee and coffee pods. They also offer whole beans and more recently, have begun to offer pre-ground, instant coffee.
How Illy and Lavazza Compare
Let’s take a look at some main areas and see how Illy vs Lavazza compare as two of the best Italian coffee roasters.
As mentioned earlier, Illy only uses 100% Arabica coffee beans. On the other hand, Lavazza produces coffee products using a blend of both Arabica and Robusta coffee. Arabica coffee is generally preferred among coffee drinkers for its flavor; these beans tend to be less bitter, sweeter, and have distinct flavor profiles. On the other hand, Robusta beans are higher in caffeine, have more antioxidants, and tend to make a stronger cup of coffee. In the coffee-producing world, around 75% of beans are Arabica while the remaining 25% is Robusta.
Lavazza is a well-known coffee brand in Italy because the pre-ground coffee they produce is a popular choice for Moka pot coffee brewing. They offer a few different Moka blends, however, they are all quite similar to one another due to the fact that they contain a larger percentage of Robusta coffee.
Conversely, Illy is a brand that has a much higher target market when it comes to Italian espresso brands and is considered by many an Illy coffee review to be the best Italian espresso coffee. Compared to Lavazza, consumers here tend to regard it as a more high-end brand with top-quality products. The brand has earned a name for itself over the decades due to the unique flavor of its espresso.
Illy Coffee Flavors
The most important factor of any coffee is how it tastes. When it comes to Illy coffee, it’s hugely popular around the world, especially in Italy, where it is considered to be Italy’s best coffee even though it is generally more expensive to buy compared to Lavazza. It is especially popular as a choice for making espresso and the medium roast pre-ground coffee for Moka pot brewing is also a huge success.
In terms of taste, Illy coffee has a distinctly sweet, velvety flavor with caramel, chocolate, fruit, and toasted notes. It has a fragrant aroma with honey, almond, and floral accents. People who enjoy drinking this coffee say that the main reason they do so is because of the flavor consistency and quality that they can trust to turn up in every single cup.
The blends used by Illy are made from beans sourced by growers across four different continents, with nine different varieties of the best quality coffee beans. In the north of Italy, coffee drinkers tend to prefer the brighter and milder profile of 100% Arabica coffee such as that offered by Illy, while in the south, the bitter and more woody profile of blends with Robusta beans tend to be preferred. So, it’s no surprise that Illy is a popular coffee brand among northern Italians in particular and is worth considering when discussing Lavazza vs Illy espresso.
Lavazza Coffee Flavors
Is Lavazza good coffee? Lavazza offers a range of different coffee options all of which vary in flavor depending on which you prefer. One of this brand’s most popular coffee products, Lavazza Gran Crème, uses a Lavazza espresso beans blend of 70% washed Arabica beans sourced from Brazil and Central America, and 30% washed Robusta beans sourced from Indonesia. As a result, there is a mild acidity that is balanced by the natural sweetness of these beans, and the higher quality Indonesian Robusta beans are washed to remove their natural bitterness, giving them a rich, chocolate flavor instead. This makes it a very versatile drink that works well in milk-based drinks and is a top choice for any coffee drinker who enjoys a milder brew. It’s extremely popular in Europe and the US.
Some Other Italian Coffee Brands to Consider
While they might be the two that are most talked about and well-known, Lavazza and Illy are not the only Italian coffee brands out there. If you are interested in coffee brands from Italy and want to try out a few different options before deciding on the right one for you, here are some popular Italian coffee brands to consider.
Founded in 1922, the Pellini roasting company is currently one of the leading Italian espresso coffee brands. It’s a true family business and is now run by the third generation of the Pellini family, having been handed down over the years. The company runs a number of sub-brands including Pellini Bio and Pellini Top.
Starting out as a passion project for Luigi Musetti who roasted small batches of coffee to sell each morning, the Musetti family has kept his dream of producing high-quality, true artisan coffee. It’s now one of the best Italian coffee brands and carries the Certified Specialty Coffee label.
If you want to try the best Italian coffee pods, this brand could be perfect for you. While the brand was founded with the main aim of importing and reselling green coffee, they have now become one of Italy’s biggest coffee roasters. Over the past ten years, the company has spent their time getting their single-serve coffee technique perfect, and now specialize in producing coffee capsules and pods.
Danesi coffee is a leading Italian roastery with over a century of experience and a serious cult following. They are managed by a 100% female team who are all fourth-generation members of the original Danesi family.
Kimbo coffee is a major rival of Illy in Italy, currently sitting in second place for the best Italian coffee brand on the market. It has been known as a classic for more than five decades and has a reputation for producing some of the best quality, traditional Neapolitan espresso.
The Difference Between Italian Coffee and Italian Roast
When choosing coffee to buy, you might come across beans, pre-ground coffee, pods, and more products that are referred to as either ‘Italian coffee’ or ‘Italian roast’. Italian coffee refers to coffee that has been blended and roasted in Italy. On the other hand, an Italian roast refers to any coffee that has been roasted to a specific level of darkness and oiliness, no matter the location where the roasting happens.
In Southern Italy, the medium-dark roast that inspires the Italian roast is very popular. The coffee beans are roasted until they start to become a little oily, but don’t have a very oily surface like extra dark roasts such as the French roast. This is ideal for espresso since richer flavors develop, but lesser oil means less risk of damage to espresso machines.
Illy and Lavazza are the biggest coffee rivals in Italy, offering great coffee with subtle differences for coffee lovers to enjoy.