The Loss of a Legend

illycaffe’s honorary president Ernesto Illy died on February 3, 2008, at the age of 82. Throughout his career, Dr. Illy has openly shared his dscoveries ”not only to advance the interests of his own company, but for the benefit of all people who enjoy and appreciate the authentic Italian coffee experience. Dr. Ernesto Illy had a mission ”spreading the gospel of quality espresso and coffee for the greater part of his scientic life, often praised as “Espresso Evangelist,” the “Espesso Docore” and of course, “Papa Bean.”


Born in Trieste in 1929, he obtained a degree in chemistry from the University of Bologna in 1947. In 1956, control of the company passed from Francesco, the company’s founder and his father, to Ernesto, who started a research laboratory that soon became the source of numerous new inventions and patents, allowing illy to become a leader in innovation and technology. It was Ernesto, a scientist and researcher, who established cooperation agreements with universities and research centers, promoted premium quality coffee around the world, and who brought Italian-style espresso to the rest of the world. From 1963 to 2004 he was the Chairman of illycaffe S.p.A. in Trieste, and continued on to hold the title of Honorary Chairman.

Dr. Illy’s impressive resume of past positions and honors includes:

¢ Association Scientifique International du Cafe, Paris: Founder and Senior Vice President

¢ Physiological Effects of Coffee, Paris: Chairman, 1981

¢ Institute for Scientific Information of Coffee, Paris: Chairman since 1991

¢ Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Industry), Granted the title by Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 1994

¢ Centromarca (an association representing brand-name companies in Italy): President since 1996

¢ Specialty Coffee Association of America: Awarded Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997

¢ Monte Carmelo, Brazil: Awarded Honorary Citizenship for Contributions to the area, 2002

¢ International Coffee Organization, London: Elected Chairman of the Promotion Committee, 2002

¢ Guatemala, National Coffee Association: Made a member of the order by Anacafe, 2004


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