Whenever we think of poets, they are always imagined with coffee, sitting by some window, writing beautiful poetry. Why is it, therefore, that coffee and poem are linked together? And, indirectly, beauty is breathed in the same sentence as coffee? These exact same questions were asked by Andrea Illy. He is the third-generation president and CEO of Illycaffè, a leading Italian coffee company. He talked about it in the latest lecture of a conversation series ‘The World in Your Cup’, co-sponsored by Northeastern University.
Illy believes that there is a subtle connection between this surreal artistic expression and coffee. Koss, assistant dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, agrees with Illy. As Illy puts it, “Coffee is the official beverage of culture.“ If it’s really good coffee, it can trigger inspiration, and if you’re inspired you become very creative. Coffee is the official beverage of Italy, of the Scientific Revolution, of culture. It is the beverage of the modern age.”
Illy is one coffee enthusiast. He is often joked of having coffee in his veins instead of blood. The Illycaffè was established in 1933. Illy’s grandfather, Francesco Illy, in a port town in Italy called Trieste, was busy developing the modern espresso machine. His machine used pressure to prepare the espresso, which is admittedly a better method of preserving the coffee beans’ natural essence. His grandfather’s dream was simple – to give people the greatest coffee in the world. The dream was carried on by his son Ernesto. He found an in-house laboratory, in order to study coffee chemistry. The legacy is now run by Andrea Illy.
Every coffee fanatic knows the importance of high-quality beans for preparing a cup of coffee or espresso. Illy’s company uses a blend of nine coffee bean varieties. These beans travel from around 50 farms around 20 countries to his factory. It is essential that you invest in coffee beans that are not just fair trade certified but are also beneficial to farmers. A few years ago, an international certification body honoured Illycaffè with an award for its cultivation process. Illy, as humble as ever, credits his company’s efforts for this honor.
Upon beauty and goodness of coffee, he reflects, “Beauty and goodness are two sides of the same coin. Will beauty save the world? My answer is, ‘Why not?’”