Illy vs Lavazza: Whats the Best Italian Coffee Brand?

Most coffee fans will have heard of two Italian brands; illy and lavazza.

At first glance, you might think these two cafes are a lot alike, but wait! there are subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences to be aware of before you buy.

Reading: Best coffee illy or lavazza

Illy vs Lavazza

summary of illy

illy was founded in 1933 in italy by francesco illy. this quintessentially Italian coffee roaster specializes in the production of espresso.

The company produces its superior quality, exclusive coffee blend in three different roasts; regular, dark roast and decaf. In addition, illy offers single origin Arabica beans that come from six countries: Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India and Costa Rica.

depending on the season, illy brings out its low-caffeine arabica, idillyum. Growers produce this particular blend from beans grown in the rich volcanic soil of El Salvador.

illy coffee is delivered as ground coffee, whole beans, iperespresso capsules and e.s.e. espresso coffee capsules. In addition, illy’s pre-ground coffee is packed in steel containers, pressurized with inert gas, instead of air, to keep the coffee fresh for longer.

Finally, illy’s reputation as a producer of premium coffee is largely based on the exclusive use of 100% Arabica beans in all its products.

lavazza overview

lavazza is also an Italian manufacturer of coffee products. the company was founded in 1895 in turin by luigi lavazza.

Like illy, lavazza uses imported coffee from different sources around the world, including costa rica, colombia, brazil, guatemala, honduras, indonesia, uganda, mexico and the united states. although some lavazza coffees are 100% arabica, much of their blended coffee is a blend of arabica and robusta coffees.

The company is eager for its support of sustainable production to be seen as high on its agenda. therefore, they have developed the earth! project, an initiative that seeks to promote sustainable agriculture programs in honduras, peru and colombia. The idea is to improve the quality of the coffee, as well as take care of the environment and the working conditions of plantation workers who live in these communities.

Like illy, lavazza offers its coffee in whole beans, pre-ground coffee and coffee capsules.

so how do these Italian coffee giants stack up?

target market

lavazza is certainly a well-known coffee brand in italy, but that seems to be mainly due to its pre-ground coffee which is the choice of buyers for use in mocha pot preparation.

although there are a few different mocha blends to choose from, they all taste similar, thanks to the higher percentage of robusta coffee they contain.

on the other hand, illy has a more significant presence in the Italian espresso market and is generally seen by consumers as a producer of a higher quality product. the unique taste of its espresso has also given the brand some renown.

robusta vs arabica

As we mentioned, illy uses 100% Arabica beans; while lavazza uses a blend of arabica and robusta. If you want a full breakdown of this distinction, you can read it here.

but here are some key points:

  • 75% of the coffee produced is of the arabica variety and the remaining 25% is robust.
  • In general, coffee drinkers prefer the flavor of Arabica because it has more sugars and different flavor profiles, although there are exceptions.
  • however, robusta beans have more caffeine and antioxidants and are often preferred by people who like a stronger cup.
  • That being said, it seems that most Italians vote for illy as their brand of choice.

    but what about the taste?

    Of course, the most important factor in any coffee-based beverage is the taste.

    illy flavor profile

    See also: Cuisinart Coffee Center Review 2022: Two Is Better Than One!

    This brand sells for a higher price than lavazza, but illy is still very popular around the world, especially for its medium roast ground coffee.

    illy coffee is immediately sweet and velvety on the palate with notes of fruit, toast, caramel and chocolate. floral and sweet accents with honey and almonds make up the fragrant scent. illy coffee fans say the secret to its success is consistency of flavor and brew quality, cup after cup.

    In addition, illy sources its 100% Arabica beans from growers on four continents. nine high-quality bean varieties are carefully blended and balanced to produce the blend.

    It is interesting to note that coffee drinkers in Northern Italy prefer the smoother, brighter flavor profile of 100% Arabica coffee beans. while further south, flavors lean more toward the woody, bitter mouthfeel that robusta beans produce.

    so, not surprisingly, illy is more popular with northern Italians who prefer the less bitter and more subtle flavor profile.

    Other popular illy coffees include their medium and dark roast ground espresso:

    This illy classic coffee is a finely ground coffee made specifically for your espresso machine. The blend consists of 9 different Arabica coffees that are medium roasted to create a rich and balanced brew with notes of caramel and chocolate.

    Intense dark roast coffee is another Italian espresso. It is also made up of a 9 arabica blend but is more robust and full of flavor compared to the smooth taste of classic Italian coffee. the most prominent flavor note is a deep, rich cocoa.

    lavazza flavor profile

    Now, let’s take a look at the flavor profile of one of Lavazza’s most popular products, Lavazza Gran Crema. washed arabica beans from central america and brazil make up 70% of this blend, while washed robusta beans from indonesia make up the remaining 30%

    Arabica provides mild acidity, balanced by the natural sweetness of the bean. The robusta from Indonesia that is used is of better quality than the woodier beans from Uganda and Vietnam that are traditionally used to make espresso blends, especially in southern Italy. washing the robusta beans removes bitterness and changes the flavor profile to a deep chocolate flavor.

    this lavazza mix is ​​a bestseller in the usa. uu. and Europe, probably due to its versatility and natural affinity with milk-based drinks and the general preference of the population for a milder flavored infusion.

    other popular lavazza coffees include lavazza super crema and lavazza crema e gusto:

    lavazza super crema is smooth and creamy with hints of hazelnut and brown sugar. this is a whole bean blend of arabica varieties sourced from brazil, colombia and india, as well as robusta varieties from indonesia and vietnam. when prepared, lavazza super cream has a pleasant and perceptible aroma of honey, almonds and dried fruits.

    crema e gusto is a full-bodied dark roast coffee with a rich, spicy aftertaste. ground coffee has a creamy flavor with hints of chocolate. illy gives the taste an 8/10 in terms of intensity. crema e gusto is a blend of Brazilian arabicas with robusta from Africa and Indonesia.

    other Italian coffee brands to try

    Contrary to what other sites may lead you to believe, illy and lavazza are not the only Italian coffee brands available to you. So, in case you’re curious about other Italian-based roasteries and brands, we’ve put together a short list of some brands and their most popular offerings.

    coffee danish

    With over a century of experience in the industry behind them, Café Danesi has become a leading Italian roastery with a huge following. Its 100% female management team is made up of members of the fourth generation of the Danish family. The Golden Blend Italian Espresso linked below reigns supreme as one of the most popular gourmet Italian coffee blends on the market.

    lollo coffee

    Are you looking for another option of Italian coffee capsules? look no further than lollo. The company was founded for the purpose of importing and reselling raw coffee, but today they have grown into one of the largest roasteries in the industry. Anticipating the rise of single serve coffee, this company has spent the last 10 years perfecting their technique.

    lollo caffé now specializes in the production of coffee pods and capsules, such as the following.


    in italy, kimbo coffee rivals illy’s popularity and currently ranks second for best italian coffee in its home market. The brand has remained a classic for over 50 years and is known for its high-quality, traditional Neapolitan espresso. Kimbo places a strong emphasis on the importance of embracing the rich history of Naples coffee and continuing to advance in terms of innovative production.

    mustetti coffee

    See also: How to pack mugs for moving

    This Italian coffee brand began as the passion project of Luigi Musetti, who tirelessly roasted small batches of coffee every morning to sell in his “coffee house.” Since then, the Mustetti family and their collaborators have carried out Luigi’s dream of truly high-quality artisan coffee. caffé musetti is now one of the Italian coffee brands with the coveted csc (certified special coffee) label.

    fourth coffee

    Like caffé musetti, quarta caffé started with just a small drum roaster, except this brand hails from lecce in southern italy. it is still run by the founder’s son and two grandchildren. Furthermore, quarta caffé is well known and respected for its commitment to social programs and environmental sustainability.


    The pellini roasting company was founded in 1922 and today stands as a leading Italian coffee brand. The company is still run by the Pellini family, now in its third generation. the company has several sub-brands, including pellini, pellini top and pellini bio.

    Italian coffee vs Italian roast

    Coffee blended and roasted in Italy by an Italian roastery is Italian coffee. Italian “roasts”, on the other hand, are coffees that are roasted to a specific level of darkness/oiliness, regardless of where the roasting takes place.

    An Italian roast is another name for the level of medium-dark roast that is popular in southern Italy. these espresso beans are roasted until they begin to develop oil but do not yet have very oily surfaces (as is common with extra-dark roasts such as French roasts).

    This type of roast is perfect for espresso coffee, as the longer roast allows more intense flavors to develop, but the lack of oil prevents damage to grinders and expensive espresso machines. Due to this sweet spot, Italian roast coffee has become very popular in several countries.

    frequently asked questions

    before we wrap up, let’s see if we can address some of the burning questions that arise when talking about Italian coffee.

    Is Italian coffee grown in Italy?

    No, at least not in a major capacity. the country may have some overzealous coffee addicts who have chosen to grow a plant or two in their backyard. However, apart from those scattered enthusiasts, no coffee is grown in Italy.

    So while much of coffee culture as we know it originates in Italy, the beans themselves do not.

    what makes Italian coffee so good?

    generally, when talking about coffee, the beans are praised for the exceptional growing conditions of their origins. Certain soils, climates, and altitudes lend themselves to the cultivation of high-quality, flavorful coffee. However, there is not a lot of coffee growth in Italy, so what makes these beans so special?

    Well, really it all comes down to the ability of companies to roast and blend their coffees. Italian coffee brands have an exceptionally rich coffee history to draw on in their production. therefore, they have mastered the elusive art of blending the distinctive and unique flavors of arabica coffee with the power of robusta coffee to create truly impressive blends.

    plus, some of these roasteries have been around for over a century, so their techniques have been perfected over many decades so their roasting practices can get the most out of those incredible blends.

    Are all Italian coffees espresso roasted?

    As we discussed earlier, there is a specific type of espresso roast called an “Italian roast.” With this naming convention comes the assumption that all Italian coffees must be Italian roasted, which, as we mentioned, is not the case. however, the question remains whether Italian coffees are all, more broadly, espresso roasts.

    the answer is technically no. You’ll also find Italian coffees in the medium and dark roast range (although light roasts are rare). medium-dark roasts, such as Italian roasts, are often preferred for espresso, but aren’t really required.

    That being said, most Italian coffees, regardless of roast, are intended to be used with an espresso machine to prepare espresso shots. This brings us to the next point…

    How do Italians drink coffee?

    As you may have noticed, almost all Italian coffees are a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. that’s because, as we mentioned earlier, most Italian coffee is brewed as espresso. the arabica provides the flavor of the infusion, while the robusto intensifies the touch of caffeine.

    As a result, Italians almost exclusively drink espresso-based beverages. While it would take an entire article to explain the intricacies of Italian coffee culture, here are some interesting facts:

    • many Italians enjoy coffee three times a day: morning, lunch and afternoon break.
    • cappuccinos and lattes are signature drinks for breakfast and brunch; drinking one after noon will definitely make you look weird.
    • espressos and macchiatos are appropriate for any time of day, although it is recommended to drink coffee throughout the day rather than order them as double shots (doppios).
    • The closest equivalent to the drip coffee you have at home is an Americano (essentially a watered down espresso).
    • wrapping it

      so, in a nutshell, coffee addicts:

      • illy is perfect for you if you like the taste of your coffee to be more refined and smooth and you have more flexibility in your pocket.
      • lavazza is a good option for those on a modest budget who enjoy their coffee with a bit more acidity and robust flavor.
      • if those two options are starting to sound a little unconventional to you, check out one of the other Italian coffee brands we’ve covered for a more traditional Italian feel.
      • of course, here at roastty, we recommend you check out some of the smaller local artisan coffee makers. but we won’t judge you if you’d rather take the commercial route and try one of these brands.

        happy caffeine!

        See also: 10 Strongest K Cup Coffees In 2022: Top Picks & Buying Guide


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