Illy vs. Lavazza: Differences Between The Two

by | Nov 24, 2021 | coffee | 0 comments


Illy and Lavazza are both well-known names in the Italian coffee world, and these two brands are found pretty much everywhere. In terms of quality, they both produce the same standard of Italian coffee, so it can be difficult to decide which one to choose, but honestly, you can not go wrong with either of them.

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

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

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

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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 larger coffee bean market by offering unique coffee blends for all popular brewing styles. You can learn more about Illy’s history and roots at their website.

The company is known for its characteristic blended coffee in three different roasting profiles: plain, dark roasted and decaffeinated. Their primary focus is on Arabica coffee beans and blends.

As you move away from blends, in their selection you can also find a selection of Arabica coffee with a single origin that comes from growing regions such as Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and India. If you’re looking for a specific blend of Arabica coffee or a specific roast, 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 a comprehensive range of coffee machines, a selection of deluxe espresso machines and other coffee-related accessories.

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

With such a wide customer base, they produce coffee products for every end of the market. From ground coffee, whole beans, coffee capsules and ESE espresso coffee pads – Illy has something for everyone.

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

Advantage

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

Disadvantages

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

Lavazza Overview

Lavazza coffee

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

Lavazza works in the same way as Illy, also importing coffee from prime growing regions around the world. Such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia and Uganda, to name a few.

Unlike Illy, which mainly focuses 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 coffee.

Lavazza is also a popular brand, served in five-star hotels, restaurant chains and even office complexes. It is not uncommon to only find 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 ground coffee and vending machines marketed to office environments. Something that Illy does not 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 for another 100 years.

One of Lavazza’s latest selections of coffees, “The ¬°Tierra! Project,” is an initiative selection of coffee beans to promote sustainable agricultural 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, ground coffee, Lavazza pods and “bean to cup” vending machine products.

Advantage

  • Single origin and coffee blends are available.
  • Impressive selection of whole bean coffee.
  • Large selection of different roasting levels.
  • Offers Robusta and Arabica blends.
  • Office-focused coffee subscription service.
  • Home coffee subscriptions.
  • Focus on coffee sustainability.

Disadvantages

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

Comparison: Illy And Lavazza

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

Audience

Both Lavazza and Illy cross paths with regard to the target market. Lavazza is extremely popular in Italy, mainly because of their ground coffee, which is tailored for Moka pot coffee brewing – It is an integral part of almost all Italian cuisines.

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

Recently, Illy has started focusing more of its resources on the US retail coffee market, and since changing its business model, they have seen a 50% increase in home coffee sales.

Both coffee companies cater to consumers at home, but they are best known for their premium coffee, which is mainly sold in hotels, restaurants and cafes. If you compare 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 machines.

To summarize. Both Illy and Lavazza produce products for both home and business businesses.

Lavazza has a small 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.

is illy better than lavazza

Taste profiles and mixtures

How certain coffees taste can be very subjective and what types of coffee you prefer depends on personal preference. That said, there are a few subtle differences between Illy and Lavazza that can 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 are better served by choosing Lavazza. They have an excellent selection of coffee blends containing Robusta beans that typically produce a robust and fatty cup filled with caffeine.

If you want to try a more comprehensive selection of different coffee grid profiles, Lavazza also comes out on top here and has a wider selection than Illy.

Lavazza uses an irregular frying scale, which can be confusing if you are new to the brand. From what we can see, their lowest frying level, according to their scale, is on par with a classic light to medium light frying.

You will struggle to find lightly roasted coffees in the Illy series. So it could be a dealbreaker if you enjoy light to medium roasted coffee.

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

Popular Illy Coffee

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

Another favorite Illy coffee is their medium and dark roasted espresso-ground Classico coffee. This is made especially for the espresso machine and already comes ground extra fine.

Remaining 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 touches of chocolate and caramel.

If you fancy an intense and dark Italian espresso, Intenso dark roast is definitely one you should try.

This Arabica blend contains a selection of 9 different coffees, but is much more robust and full-bodied compared to the Classico coffee blend. You can unmistakably taste touches 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 blend of 70% washed Arabica coffee beans 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 into a deep chocolate-like intense espresso with a rich crema.

Lavazza Super Crema is another best Lavazza coffee blend consisting of various Arabica varieties sourced from Colombia, Brazil and India and Robusta beans from Vietnam and Indonesia.

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

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

Do you prefer dark roasted coffee? Crema E Gusto is probably one you should try. This dark roasted 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 spicy aftertaste.

Bean Grounds dom

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

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

It’s also worth noting that Illy typically take a slightly higher premium for their coffee products compared to Lavazza, so that’s one thing to consider.

Lavazza absolutely leads and takes a significant share of the office and business market due to their office-based coffee subscription service (Lavazza Blue) and their coffee machines.

Lavazza also has a thriving home coffee service. In recent years, however, Illy has made some progress in the subscription service for home coffee, and they are not far behind.

If you watch Illy vs. Lavazza are both excellent options, and it comes down to what type of coffee beans you prefer, and more importantly, how much you are willing to spend.

Frequently asked questions

📌 Do Illy or Lavazza make coffee pillows?

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

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

📌 What is the most popular coffee brand in Italy?

There are plenty of Italian coffee roasters that produce a delicious 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 ground coffee blends for home use and their premium blends aimed at the hospitality sector. Both of these coffee brands are a sure bet for coffee lovers looking for an authentic taste of Italy.

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