Today I had my first illy coffee. It was a shot; an espresso. It tasted okay. The caffeine was interesting. It had a clarity and purity that I had not experienced before however the flavour had a lot to make up for. Perhaps it’s their sourcing methods or their packaging methods that brought that clarity and freshness. It’s probably packaging…
Illy is an icon in Italy; known for being “the best coffee in the world” and there’s good reason behind that belief. Illy reject individual beans that are defective using three waves of light: they shine green, red and near infrared light onto each individual bean and reject those that reflect light outside of a set spectrum they scienticifcally decided was good for healthy beans. Illy recently changed their company focus from the best bean to the best cup and since then have focused on packaging, preparation and what they call polysensory aspects of coffee.
According to Andrea Illy who spoke at the New York Science Academy in 2008 on the Science of Coffee, Illy packages their roasted coffee inside cans containing only Nitrogen which prevents not only oxidation however also pauses the release of carbon dioxide which is a great cause of the degradation of roasted coffee. Under 1.5 atmospheric pressure Illy coffee is preserved indefinitely and is able to be consumed as fresh as possible by the consumer. (Other packaging options:
Valve-release – another common packing is within a paper or multi-layered bag (usually containing some aluminium layers) with a valve to release gas. According to Illy this will prevent oxidation however it will not prevent the release of carbon dioxide which will leave with much of the flavour. It takes around 30 days for the full de-gassing to occur.
Vacuum-seal – unfortunately those vacuum “bricks” have already been degassed. So you may have a coffee protected from their air, however there is no carbon dioxide left in the bean meaning there is also a loss of flavour).
There are many ways to prepare coffee. Two are percolation and infusion. Espresso is in fact a percolation not an infusion. An espresso is a solution, a coloidal suspension and an emulsion.
The experience of the cup.
I would not say that Illy is the best coffee in the world. One reason is that Illy’s philosophy is to blend coffees. I prefer single origins. However there is no doubt that Illy coffee has a freshness and purity I have not experienced before. It may be the packaging…
To find out more about Andrea Illy visit: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Illy/110866958964461?sk=info