Illy, A Classic Reviewed

On another break from work last week (thank you recession), a coffee loving coworker and I decided to head over to a classic in the world of coffee.  Most people who have either drunk coffee, purchased coffee equipment, or even heard of coffee know the name Illy.  In fact, this Italian coffee company is undoubtedly the first name in coffee.

Both of us were surprised to find there was only one Illy near our midtown office, but it was close, a stand in a mall-like atrium just a few blocks away, so we made the trek.

I have to admit, I was excited.  Granted, I get excited about coffee a lot, particularly reviewing coffee shops, but this was different.  It was like the difference between visiting the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and the Louvre.  The MoMA is cool, but it does not have the same panache as the Louvre.

With all that build-up out of the way… I was disappointed.  I thought if anyone could make a great espresso it would be this Italian coffee company, so I ordered my usual double espresso.  First things first, my coffee came with a large amount of volume, definitely not ristretto.  Second, the coffee was somewhat bitter, but did have that classically “Illy” taste.  It lacked much of the sweetness I have grown to appreciate from some of the local specialty shops.  Finally, there were grinds at the bottom.  I have accepted some grinds at the bottom of my french press coffee, but have never seen such a thing in an espresso.  I am not even sure the process that would allow grinds to get into my espresso.  As Ron Burgundy said in Anchorman “I’m not even mad, I’m impressed.”  Well, maybe “impressed” is a strong word for it, but definitely confused.

I guess for now I will stick with going to the MoMA to get my kicks, but perhaps I will make the occasional visit to a classic.

2 comments to Illy, A Classic Reviewed

  • I love illy. Having first sampled it while traveling for work in Europe, I have to say that I’m glad to see some cafes (outside of the airport cafes) serving it more widespread here in the States.

  • Manhattan Roaster

    @ decavent – I totally agree that it is great to have Illy in the US. The company is such a mainstay and driving force in the coffee / espresso industry that it would be a shame to not have it here. As for the coffee itself, it has a very distincitve taste that I think is quite personal. Especially if a person had positive experiences while drinking Illy coffee, I think he/she would be more likely to enjoy the coffee later, for the positive emotions it evokes. It definitely was not distinctively “bad”, just different from my usual favorites. In fact, in deference to your comment I swung by Illy again yesterday to give it another shot. I was not in love, but at least this time it was made a little better. I wonder if there’s a difference between how their coffee tastes in Europe and how it tastes here?

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