2 September 2020

Andrea Illy – businessman and writer

Family dream was to make the best coffee in the world

Andrea Illy is the grandson of company founder Francesco Illy
Andrea Illy is the grandson of
company founder Francesco Illy
Andrea Illy, who is the chairman of coffee makers illycaffè, was born on this day in 1964 in Trieste, the capital city of the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

The grandson of the founder of illycaffè, Francesco Illy, Andrea represents the third generation of his family to lead the business. His father, Ernesto Illy, was chairman of the company between 1963 and 2004. His sister Anna and brothers Francesco and Riccardo - a former CEO now vice-president - Illy are on the board of directors.

Andrea graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Trieste and went on to study at SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Harvard Business School and Singularity University in Silicon Valley.

He joined the family firm in 1990 as a supervisor of the quality control department. Inspired by Japanese business methods, Andrea started the Total Quality Programme, which established standards both for the company and the coffee industry in general.

He was appointed CEO of illycaffè in 1994 and chairman of the company in 2005.

He developed the Università del Caffè to spread the culture of coffee throughout the world. He established the retail side of the business at global level with 230 stores and started a new system of capsules for making coffee.

Francesco Illy's dream was to produce  the best coffee in the world
Francesco Illy's dream was to produce
 the best coffee in the world
His book, Il sogno del caffè (Coffee: The Dream) describes the family and company’s history and the pursuit of the dream of his grandfather, Francesco, to produce the best coffee in the world.

Andrea won the Businessman of the Year Award in Italy in 2004. He is the honorary Chairman of the Association for Science and Information on Coffee and the Chairman of the International Coffee Organisation’s Coffee Market Promotion and Development Committee.

Since 2013 Andrea has been chairman of the Fondazione Altagamma, a foundation for firms that are worldwide ambassadors for Italian living, and from the same year he has been part of the Board of Governors of the Bank of Italy for Trieste.

Married with three daughters, Andrea was named Cavaliere del Lavoro, a Knight of Industry, by the President of Italy in 2018.

Piazza Unità d'Italia is the focal point of the elegant port city of Trieste
Piazza Unità d'Italia is the focal point of the
elegant port city of Trieste
Travel tip:

The beautiful seaport of Trieste, where illycaffè was founded in 1933, officially became part of the Italian Republic in 1954. It lies towards the end of a narrow strip of land situated between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia and is just 30 kilometres north of Croatia. It has been disputed territory for thousands of years and throughout its history has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of the Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures. The final border with Yugoslavia was settled in 1975 and this is now the present day border between Italy and Slovenia. Today, Trieste is a lively and cosmopolitan city and a major centre for trade and ship building.

Canal Grande in Trieste has many waterside bars and restaurants that are popular with visitors
Canal Grande in Trieste has many waterside bars and
restaurants that are popular with visitors 
Travel tip:

Trieste has many coffee houses that date back to the Hapsburg era, when the Austrians were in control of the seaport. Caffè Tommaseo, the oldest in the city, dates back to 1830 and is in Piazza Nicolo Tommaseo. When Irish writer James Joyce was living in Trieste, his favourite bar was Caffè Pirona in Largo della Barriera Vecchia. You could imagine yourself to be in Venice if you linger at a table outside one of the bars or restaurants at the side of Canal Grande, an inlet in the centre of Trieste with moorings for small crafts that is reminiscent of the Grand Canal.

Also on this day:

1753: The birth of Marie Josephine of Savoy, who became the titular Queen of France

1898: The birth of chocolatier Pietro Ferrero

1938: The birth of actor Giuliano Gemma


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