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Illy vs. Lavazza

Illy vs. Lavazza: Differences Between The Two Coffee Brands

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Illy and Lavazza are both household names in the world of Italian coffee, and these two brands are found pretty much anywhere. In terms of quality, they both produce the same standard of Italian coffee, so deciding which to choose might be difficult, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

However, if you want to delve a little deeper, there are a few subtle differences that could be deal breakers depending on how much you enjoy your authentic classic Italian style of coffee.

In this article, we have pulled back the veil from both of these Italian coffee giants and laid out everything you ever needed to know about Illy and Lavazza.

Armed with this new found knowledge, you can then decide which coffee brand you prefer.

Illy Overview

illy coffee

Starting with Illy. Founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy, this Italian coffee roasting company grew on the back of its espresso blends. It later expanded into the bigger coffee bean market by offering unique coffee blends for all popular brewing styles. You can learn more about the history and the roots of Illy over at their website.

The company is known for its signature blended coffee in three different roast profiles: regular, dark roast, and decaf. Their primary focus is on Arabica coffee beans and blends.

Moving away from blends, in their range, you can also find a selection of single origin Arabica coffees sourced from growing regions such as Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and India. If you’re looking for a particular blend of Arabica coffee or a specific roast, the chances are Illy has what you’re looking for.

In recent years Illy has grown from more than just a coffee roasting company, and they now have an extensive range of coffee makers, a deluxe espresso machine selection, and other coffee-related accessories.

Illy is a large company that has its roots deeply embedded in the coffee industry. Not only do they cater to the retail market, but they also have major contracts with well known 5-star hotel chains and restaurant establishments.

With such a broad customer base, they produce coffee products to every end of the market. From pre-ground coffee, whole beans, coffee capsules, and E.S.E. espresso coffee pods – Illy has something for everyone.

Illy also has a popular coffee subscription service where you can choose from their extensive range of different coffees to be delivered directly to your door.

Pros

  • A large variety of different coffee origins.
  • A wide variety of different coffee makers and espresso machines for home and commercial use.
  • A good selection of coffee roast levels.
  • A recently launched home coffee subscription service.
  • Whole bean coffee, ground, and pods for popular machines available.
  • Competitive prices but still slightly higher priced than Lavazza.

Cons

  • No light roasts.
  • A relatively small selection of whole bean coffee options.
  • They Use Arabica coffee exclusively in their blends.

Lavazza Overview

Lavazza Coffee

Lavazza’s roots can be traced back a little further than Illy’s. This Italian family owned business was founded in 1895 by Luigi Lavazza. If you want to delve deeper into the history of the Lavazza company, check out this excellent interactive tour.

Lavazza operates similarly to Illy in that they also import coffee from prime growing regions around the globe. Such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia, and Uganda, to name a few.

However, Unlike Illy, who focuses mainly on 100% Arabica coffee blends, Lavazza produces not only Arabica coffee blends but also different bean types, with their most popular blends being Arabica and Robusta coffees.

Lavazza is also a popular brand served in five star hotels, restaurant chains, and even office complexes. It’s not uncommon to find only one of the two coffee giants at any hotel, either Illy or Lavazza, due to exclusive contracts to serve only their coffee.

Lavazza has an exclusive range of coffee brewing machines for both pods and pre-ground coffee and vending machines that are marketed towards office environments. Something which Illy doesn’t have at the time of writing.

Finally, Lavazza supports sustainable coffee production. In fact, they are one of the leaders when it comes to sustainability practices in the coffee industry. Their forward thinking and sustainability focus aims to keep high quality coffee around for another 100 years.

One of Lavazza’s newest range of coffees, “The ¡Tierra! Project,” is an initiative range of coffee beans to promote sustainable agriculture programs in Peru, Honduras, and Colombia.

Like Illy, Lavazza produces a wide range of different types of coffee suitable for almost all brewing styles, such as whole coffee beans, pre-ground coffee, Lavazza pods, and “bean to cup” vending machine products.

Pros

  • Single-origin and coffee blends are available.
  • Impressive selection of whole bean coffee.
  • Wide variety of different roast levels.
  • Offers Robusta and Arabica blends.
  • Office-focused coffee subscription service.
  • Home coffee subscriptions.
  • A focus on coffee sustainability.

Cons

  • Not as many pre-ground options compared to Illy.
  • Non-standard roasting levels.
  • A small selection of home coffee machines.

Comparison: Illy And Lavazza

Now you know a little more about the history and products of both Illy and Lavazza, let’s take a closer look at each company in a bit more depth.

Target Market

Both Lavazza and Illy cross paths in regards to the target market. Lavazza is extremely popular in Italy mainly due to their pre-ground coffees, which are tailored towards Moka pot coffee brewing – It’s a staple in almost all Italian kitchen pantries.

On the other hand, Illy is just as popular in the Italian espresso market, where they are regarded as a producer of top quality espresso coffee both at home and in cafes and restaurants.

Recently, Illy has begun focusing more of its resources on the U.S retail coffee market, and since shifting its business model, they have seen a 50% increase in at-home coffee sales.

Both coffee companies target consumers at home, but they are best known for their premium coffee sold mainly in hotels, restaurants, and cafes. Comparing the two, Lavazza is the king of corporate coffee, and they have an office-based coffee subscription service (Lavazza Blue), and they also install coffee vending machines.

To summarize. Both Illy and Lavazza produce products for both home and commercial establishments.

Lavazza has a slight edge in the commercial space with their exclusive office based subscription service. Both are almost neck and neck in the hospitality sector and are popular coffee brands in hotels, restaurants, and cafes worldwide.

Robusta And Arabica

From our research, it appears that Illy only uses 100% Arabica beans in their products. In contrast, Lavazza produces a range of coffee blends of Arabica and Robusta and 100% Arabica coffee products.

Flavor Profiles And Blends

How certain coffees taste can be very subjective, and which types of coffee you prefer comes down to personal preference. With that being said, there are a few subtle differences between Illy and Lavazza, which might help you decide which brand of coffee you might prefer.

If you prefer a stronger cup of coffee, and by stronger, we mean the caffeine content, you’re better off choosing Lavazza. They have an excellent range of coffee blends containing Robusta beans that typically produce a robust and bold cup loaded with caffeine.

If you want to try a more extensive range of various coffee roasting profiles, Lavazza also comes out on top here and has a broader selection than Illy.

Lavazza does use an irregular roasting scale which can be confusing if you’re new to the brand. From what we can gather, their lowest roast level, according to their scale, is on par with a classic light to medium light roast.

You will struggle to find any light roast coffees in the Illy range. So that could be a dealbreaker if you enjoy light to medium roast coffees.

Let’s take a closer look at Illy’s and Lavazza’s popular flavor profiles in more detail.

Popular Illy Coffee

The Illy brand tends to demand a higher price than Lavazza, but even with the slightly higher priced coffee Illy still has a large loyal following and is hugely popular worldwide – especially for their pre-ground medium roast Moka Pot coffee.

Another favorite Illy coffee is their medium and dark roast espresso ground Classico coffee. This has been made specifically for the espresso machine and comes already ground extra fine.

Staying true to their Arabica coffee blend tradition, this blend incorporates nine different Arabica coffees roasted to a medium profile.

The resulting coffee is rich and balanced with subtle hints of chocolate and caramel.

If you’re craving for an intense and dark Italian espresso, the Intenso dark roast is definitely one to try.

This Arabica blend contains a selection of 9 different coffees but is much more robust and full flavored compared to the Classico coffee blend. You can unmistakably taste hints of dark chocolate bitterness.

Popular Lavazza Coffee

One of Lavazza’s best selling coffees in the US and Europe is the Gran Crema blend.

This contains a mix of 70% washed Arabica coffee beans sourced from Central America and Brazil, and the remaining 30% washed Robusta coffee beans from Indonesia.

The mild sweet Arabica balances well against the more bitter and woody Robusta, which translates to a deep chocolatey intense espresso with a rich crema.

Sale

The Lavazza Super Crema is another best Lavazza coffee blend that consists of different Arabica varieties sourced from Colombia, Brazil, and India and Robusta beans from Vietnam and Indonesia.

The blue bags from Lavazza are typically marketed towards commercial establishments such as hotels, restaurants, and cafes, but you can still purchase them for home brewing.

When brewed, you can clearly pick out the aroma of sweet honey, almonds, and even dried fruit, and an impressive crema is guaranteed.

Prefer dark roasted coffee? The Crema E Gusto is probably one you should try. This dark roast coffee blend mixes sweet Arabica from Brazil and earthy Robusta from Indonesia and Indonesia.

The resulting brewed coffee has an earthy undertone balanced with sweet notes of chocolate and, surprisingly, a slightly spiced aftertaste.

Bean Grounds Verdict

So is Illy better than Lavazza? There is no clear winner in this Italian coffee comparison.

Both Lavazza and Illy produce some great tasting coffee blends to suit all preferences. However, Lavazza has a slight edge in terms of variety with its Robusta and Arabica coffee blends.

Also, it’s worth noting that Illy typically charges a slightly higher premium for their coffee products versus Lavazza, so that is one thing you need to take into consideration.

Lavazza definitely leads and takes a considerable portion of the office and corporate market due to their office-based coffee subscriptions service (Lavazza Blue) and their coffee vending machines.

Lavazza also has a booming coffee subscription service for the home. However, in recent years, Illy has made some strides in the home coffee subscription service, and they are not far behind.

If you’re looking at Illy vs. Lavazza both are excellent options, and it comes down to which type of coffee beans you prefer and, more importantly, how much you are willing to spend.

FAQs

📌 Does Illy Or Lavazza Make Coffee Pods?

Both Illy and Lavazza produce coffee pods for various machines, such as the popular Nespresso and Keurig brewers.

They also sell coffee pods for use in their exclusive coffee makers, such as the Lavazza Blue machines and the Illy Iperespresso capsule machines.

📌 Do Illy And Lavazza Have Decaf Coffee Beans?

Yes. Both Illy and Lavazza produce decaf Italian coffee beans and even decaffeinated coffee pods.

Illy’s most popular decaf coffee blend is the medium roast 100% Arabica blend.

Lavazza has more decaffeinated coffee options, such as the Lavazza Espresso Decaffeinato Ground Coffee Blend and the very popular Lavazza Dek Decaffeinated Dark Espresso Roast.

📌 What Is The Most Popular Brand Of Coffee Within Italy?

There are plenty of Italian coffee roasters that produce some great tasting gourmet coffee. However, two companies that have been around for over two centuries are Illy and Lavazza.

Both of these brands are popular in Italy for their pre-ground coffee blends for home use and their premium blends targeting the hospitality sector. Both of these coffee brands are a safe bet for coffee lovers looking for an authentic taste of Italy.

Mark Morphew

Mark is the editor and founder of the popular coffee blog Bean Ground. He's been active in the catering and hospitality industry for many years.

When he's not fiddling around with a new coffee gadget, you'll find him busy doing DIY projects around the home and taking his German Shepherd for a walk, who funnily enough is called Kona! Discover more about Mark here.

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