Illy VS Lavazza: What’s the Best Italian Coffee Brand?

illy vs lavazza

Illy and Lavazza, arguably the two most well-known names in Italian coffee, can be found almost anywhere coffee is sold. And both serve great, traditional Italian coffee. 

So, which one should you pick? 

In this article about Illy vs Lavazza, I examine the two Italian coffee behemoths to assist you in making your decision.

Illy Overview

Francesco Illy founded Illycaffè S.p.A. (branded and stylized as illy) in 1933. This is an Italian coffee company specializing in espresso, with headquarters in Trieste. Illy sells its coffee in silver and red pressurized, oxygen-free cans all over the world, has a cafe network on shopping streets, museums, and airports, and has been selling illyissimo coffee-flavored energy drinks since 2009.

The Illetta, which is considered the model for modern espresso machines, was invented in 1935 by Francesco Illy and revolutionized coffee preparation. During the 1940s, his ingenious pressurized packaging technology allowed Illy to begin exporting to Sweden and Holland. Francesco Illy’s approach is still the gold standard for keeping coffee fresh during transit and storage.

Illetta: the first high-pressure espresso machine

The company’s unique, and high-quality coffee blend is available in three roasts: regular, dark roast, and decaf. Illy also sells single-origin Arabica beans from Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, and Costa Rica, among other countries.

Illy’s Types of Coffee

Ground and whole bean coffee

With Illy ground and whole bean coffee, you may make any type of coffee with the right amount of grinding.

The following flavors of coffee beans are available:

  • Classico Roast – perfectly balanced and smooth with a sweet aftertaste; 
  • Intenso Roast – more nuanced and structured with a stronger flavor; 
  • Decaffeinated Coffee

You can enjoy the distinct flavor and aroma of high-quality Arabica coffee beans grown in the following regions: Brazilian coffee, Guatemalan coffee, Ethiopian coffee, and Indian coffee are all popular choices.

Iperespresso capsules

Intense, silky, and aromatic. You can quickly make your favorite coffee with iperEspresso capsules. You can try the classico illy blend, intenso roast, decaffeinated, lungo, and coffee capsules, among other options.

Individually wrapped iperEspresso coffee capsules are offered in cans containing 21 coffee capsules or individually wrapped to enhance the unique flavor of Italian espresso.

K-cup pods

Illy has made their much-loved coffee available in a simple format. These are pre-measured capsules that will provide you with one of the best coffee-drinking experiences available. Unlike other forms of coffee, illy coffee pods have an unmistakably robust and rich flavor. 

Many other coffee blends boast comparable features, but what sets illy coffee pods and illy K Cup Pods apart is that they reach this level of flavor intensity without being bitter. Illy coffee is incredibly smooth, whether you’re talking about their robust roast or their usual dark roast.

The company offers different tastes like classico, intenso, forte, and a decaf option.

Compatible espresso capsules

Illy created a new line of Nespresso compatible capsules that give the same flavors, successfully playing the sweet and sour card. Subtle aromas of caramel, orange blossom, and jasmine linger in the background, finely balancing the coffee’s harshness and a good, dependable cup of espresso for any occasion.

They come with different tastes like classico espresso, intenso espresso, forte espresso, decaf espresso, classico lungo. 

ESE pods

Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) coffee pods are just an official standard that governs the characteristics of this type of drink. E.S.E. stands for espresso that is served quickly.

The aroma of chocolate, caramel, and toast pervades these medium roast paper bags. It’s soft, but powerful. Every E.S.E. pod contains a precisely dosed and tamped amount of the classic Illy blend, packaged in environmentally friendly filter paper to preserve the coffee’s unique fragrances and flavor.

When you put an E.S.E. pod in a compatible coffee maker, it makes an espresso in 30 seconds with the true illy flavor: rich, powerful, yet balanced and smooth.

The first and most important reason to acquire Illy E.S.E. Espresso Coffee Paper Pods is that you are either too lazy or too busy to purchase freshly-roasted beans, grind them, and prepare them in order to make the best cup of espresso from your coffee maker.

Your machine will always produce a perfect cup of coffee with these Illy E.S.E. Espresso Coffee Paper Pods, with little work, hassle, or mess.

Ready to drink

Simply put, ready-to-drink coffee is coffee that has already been brewed for you and then packaged in a can or other container to keep the flavors fresh until you open it. The beverage is now ready to drink, and all you have to do now is enjoy it.

The blend is clearly designed for cold brew, yet it is extremely similar to Illy’s standard blend. As a result, you can anticipate a similar experience. A strong, Italian-style coffee that is smooth, never harsh, and full-bodied.

The flavor is constant throughout the Illy ready-to-drink coffee line, which includes everything from rich and full-bodied mixes to silky and smooth options.

Lavazza Overview

Lavazza was founded by the tenacious and intelligent Luigi Lavazza and has a history of almost 120 years. He bought a little grocery store in the center of Torino in 1895 and discovered his passion for coffee. He and his family have mastered the art and science of coffee over decades. Lavazza is the world’s emblem of Italian espresso today, run by the fourth generation.

Every step of the coffee-making process is meticulously monitored from farm to cup. When the beans arrive at Lavazza’s superior facilities, they are expertly blended by trained coffee tasters, roasted to perfection, and ground fine, medium, or coarse.

Today, Lavazza can be found in over 90 countries, from Sweden to New Zealand, passing through South Africa and Bolivia, bringing the best variations of coffee from across the world to a diverse spectrum of countries and cultures. Lavazza expects to sell over 2 billion coffee capsules and 14 billion coffee cups annually, totaling approximately 38 billion kg of coffee (84 billion pounds).

Lavazza’s Types of Coffee

Coffee beans

Lavazza coffee is not the most expensive, but it is nevertheless of exceptional quality, and the business ensures that the best beans from its growing locations are used. Even if you enjoy Lavazza coffee, there are several things to keep in mind while selecting your beans.

The taste, aroma, and freshness of coffee beans can all be used to determine their quality. In a cup of high-quality coffee, flowery overtones should be present, as well as a fruity, earthy, or nutty aftertaste.

Lavazza has many different varieties of coffee beans, from the classic ones to the organic options, from the ones perfect for espresso to decaf. 

K-cup pods

Lavazza is known for its delicious medium to dark roast blends. Their espresso is authentically made in little coffee shops throughout Milan. As a result, your first taste of Lavazza may be unexpected. Some claim the flavor is sour or tangy, as opposed to the burnt-tasting American sludge that many of us mistake for real espresso. For some, the Lavazza Espresso K Cup is too weak, while for others, it is divinely perfect. This disparity arises from the fact that everyone has different expectations of what true espresso is.

Compatible espresso capsules

Capsules from Lavazza are a great addition to any coffee maker, and they come in a variety of roasts and intensities. These capsules are pretty convenient and straightforward to utilize in terms of pods. One thing we discovered is that the capsules’ aroma doesn’t quite match the flavor, which we find strange. Overall, we believe this is a wonderful choice for espresso enthusiasts who value convenience and flavor.


With 100% washed Arabica coffee beans from Colombia, Lavazza’s cold brew gives a delicious caffeine boost. The blend is available with equipment to all Lavazza-serving venues so that it can keep its fresh and wonderful taste. Traditional and nitro cold brew versions of the blend are available. The nitrogen-infused version has a rich, creamy flavor as well as a long-lasting cascading impact. The smooth aromatic profile, which includes notes of grapefruit, red fruits, bergamot, and honey, delivers features that are more likely to be enjoyed without extra sugars or dairy.

Illy VS Lavazza: How do these Italian coffee giants compare?

Target Market

Lavazza is a well-known coffee brand in Italy, however, this appears to be largely due to the pre-ground coffee that purchasers like for use in Moka pot brewing.

Illy, on the other hand, has a larger presence in the Italian espresso industry, and customers see it as a maker of a higher-end product. The brand is also well-known for its distinctive espresso flavor.

Illy has recently been focusing more of its resources on the retail coffee industry in the United States, and since changing its business model, at-home coffee sales have increased by 50%.

Both coffee firms cater to domestic customers, but their premium coffee is mostly offered in hotels, restaurants, and cafés.

Recently, Lavazza started to expand its shops also in China, bringing more competition and choices to the Chinese consumers.

Robusta vs Arabica

Illy appears to use only 100% Arabica beans in its product. Lavazza, on the other hand, makes Arabica and Robusta coffee blends as well as 100% Arabica coffee.

Although there are exceptions, coffee lovers prefer the flavor of Arabica because it has more sugars and distinct flavor characteristics.

Most Italians vote for Illy as their preferred brand, and, in terms of coffee beans, I also tend to choose Illy.


When it comes to flavor, knowing what kind of coffee you like in general is the greatest approach to figuring out which one you’ll drink. If you prefer a stronger cup of coffee, Lavazza is the way to go. There are various blends that use robusta beans as part of the mix, ensuring a powerful, bold cup.

If you prefer a larger range of roast settings, Lavazza is a fantastic option. Customers generally agree that their lowest level is a light to medium-light roast, despite the fact that they use an unusual roasting scale.

Illy coffee is smooth and silky, with fruit, toast, caramel, and chocolate flavors. The fragrant aroma has floral elements and is sweet with honey and almond. Illy coffee fans claim that the secret to their success is the quality and consistency of the brew, cup after cup.


Packaging is an important factor in determining whether or not people will purchase coffee. It also impacts the length of time the coffee will remain fresh.

Illy pays close attention to the packaging of its coffee. It’s shipped in airtight, pressurized steel canisters with a metal seal. They use methylene chloride instead of oxygen inside the package to keep the coffee fresh.

Quality vs Price

We’ll keep this part about the pricing of the coffee itself simple for now. Illy has more coffee for less money than Lavazza, despite the fact that the two are priced equally. Illy is the superior bargain pound for pound due to the general quality of all products.

Lavazza has some great coffee, but the higher quality comes with a slight increase in the price. If you’re looking for a high-quality whole bean coffee, Lavazza is a good choice. Illy’s coffee, on the other hand, won’t break the bank if you’re on a budget.

Subscription Service

Because Lavazza does not currently offer a subscription service, this is an easy decision. You may choose the coffee you want and how often you want it delivered with Illy’s subscription service. You can also select from whole bean, pre-ground, or a specialty pod for use in one of their various coffee makers.

Do you prefer to grind your coffee right before brewing it? Whole beans are available. For espresso, how about a fine grind? Sure, go ahead. The possibilities are unlimited, equaled only by the ease of getting coffee delivered to your house on a regular basis.

Italian Coffee vs Italian Roast

Italian coffee is coffee that has been blended and roasted in Italy by an Italian roastery. Italian “roasts,” on the other hand, are coffees that are roasted to a specified level of darkness/oiliness, regardless of where they are roasted.

The medium-dark roast level that is popular throughout Southern Italy is known as an Italian Roast. These espresso beans are roasted till they start to acquire oil, although their surfaces are not yet excessively oily.

The Italian roast is substantially darker and oilier than the French roast, and it is frequently favored in Italy. This is usually the preferred choice for espresso lovers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Italian coffee grown in Italy?

The answer is no, at least not in big quantity. The reason for this is that Italy does not commercially grow or produce green coffee. The vast majority of Italy lacks the ideal growing conditions for coffee, and any coffee that might be cultivated would be on such a small scale that it would be unprofitable.

What makes Italian coffee so good?

I would say that it is more the method of preparation and roasting that makes the difference. As we have seen, Italy does not grow coffee, but roasting can make a difference in this case. Especially espresso lovers prefer the Italian roast and some methods of preparation that can make the espresso more enjoyable. In conclusion, I wouldn’t say that Italian coffee is good for the quality of the beans, or for some particular reason, but it is the experience of drinking coffee that makes the difference in this case.

Are all Italian coffees espresso roasts?

As previously mentioned, an “Italian roast” is a special sort of espresso roast. As a result of this naming pattern, many people assume that all Italian coffees must be Italian roasts, which is not the case. However, it is still debatable if all Italian coffees are, in general, espresso roasts.

Technically, the answer is no. Italian coffees are available in medium and dark roasts as well (though light roasts are uncommon). Espresso coffee is commonly made with medium-dark roasts, such as the Italian roast, but they aren’t required.

How do Italians take their coffee?

Almost all Italian coffee is a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, as you may have noticed. This is because, as previously said, most Italian coffee is designed to be brewed as espresso. The Arabica adds flavor to the brew, while the Robusta amps up the caffeine rush. As a result, Italians almost exclusively consume espresso-based beverages.

Final verdict

Overall, I believe Illy has a tiny advantage over Lavazza. However, the choice is tougher than the category results suggest. Lavazza has an advantage in terms of the variety and quality of individual roasts. To be sure, this is significant, yet when all factors are considered, Illy still wins. Illy wins in my opinion because of its extensive choice of coffee machines and accessories, as well as its subscription service. Illy is a one-stop-shop, and the convenience of coffee made expressly for their equipment sends them over the top. 

Giacomo is an Italian living in Shanghai since 2016. After working as a barista in Italy, he started to be more interested in the different types of coffee, beans, and the ways to prepare this ancient beverage. He founded Authority Coffee and he is currently on a mission to find the best coffee in China.