Illy Vs Lavazza: Pros & Cons of Both Brands

Illy and Lavazza are two very well-known brands of Italian coffee. Both companies were founded not far away from each other, and today people always have a hard time deciding between the two. Even though they are almost the same at first glance, there are some critical differences between these two popular brands. What are the pros and cons of Illy and Lavazza?

Coffee pod single serve coffee containers of Illy and Lavazza Italian brands

Illy has a wide variety of coffee makers and a good selection of roast levels. The company offers a subscription service, and you can choose between whole bean, ground bean, and pod coffee. However, it doesn’t have any light roasts. Lavazza offers great coffee blends, has a great variety of roast levels, and is focused on sustainability. However, it has a petite section of coffee makers and doesn’t have many pre-ground options.

Lavazza was founded before Illy, but that didn’t stop Illy from catching up. That could perhaps be thanks to Dr.Illy, who set up a laboratory in his home to research the chemistry of coffee.

Even though these companies are equally successful, they have focused on different things. Illy produces only 100% Arabica beans, while Lavazza offers an Arabica Robusta blend. While Illy has stayed focused on coffee all these years, Lavazza also focused on the environmental impact of coffee production. The company also focused on making the lives of coffee farmers better.

Keep reading to find out all about how these brands were founded and the pros and cons of each of these brands.

About Illy

Illycaffè was founded by Francesco Illy in 1933. It is believed that his invention of the Illeta was a blueprint for modern espresso machines. Francesco based his new method of packaging on pressurization, which allowed him to export illy to Sweden and Holland in the 1940s. To this day, his method is used to keep coffee fresh while it’s being transported and stored.

Francesco Illy had a son Ernesto who had a doctorate in chemistry. He decided to join his father’s company at the end of the 1940s and opened up an in-house laboratory where he focused on coffee chemistry. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the company started to sell small cans of ground coffee. In 1965 the company finally settled in Via Flavia Headquarters in Trieste, where it is still located to thiesto created an innovation that made the company even better than it already was. This innovation was the first-ever pre-measured espresso pod, and it allowed people to easily make high-quality espresso, regardless of whether they were in a cafe or atme. Ernesto didn’t stop there, and in 1988, he patented a photo-chromatic way to identify the beans that were of the highest quality.

Nowadays, people consider illy to be a synonym for premium Italian coffee in more than 140 countries worldwide. The tradition of illy is still alive today thanks to Ernesto’s son, Andrea Illy.

Pros of Illy

Many different types of products

The coffee market is enormous and the demand for new products is growing bigger and bigger every day. To stay relevant, Illy has developed a few different products. There are five types of coffee products made by Illy that can be found on the market. Those are ground coffee, whole coffee beans, capsules, E.S.E. pods, and k-cup pods. You can find each of these products in different categories; for example, the whole coffee beans come in 7 types based on their origin and roast.

These are whole bean medium roasted coffee, which tastes like caramel and chocolate, decaffeinated coffee, which is rich and also tastes like caramel, and dark roast coffee, which is intense and tastes like deep cocoa. Based on their origin, you can choose between Arabica selection whole bean Colombia which tastes like fruit, Ethiopia, which tastes like jasmine, Guatemala, which tastes like chocolate; and Brazil which tastes like caramel.

Illy produces four types of ground coffees. These types of coffee are the same as whole bean coffee, just ground. Illy offers ground espresso medium roast coffee, ground espresso dark roast coffee, ground espresso decaffeinated coffee, and ground mocha coffee.

You can also choose from many different pods.

Pod nameTastes like
Extra dark roastDark chocolate and caramel
Dark roastDeep cocoa
Medium roastCaramel and chocolate

Illy also offers capsules. There are Capsule cube dark roast, which is intense and full-flavored; Capsule cube medium roast, which has rich notes of chocolate and caramel; Espresso capsules which have distinctive notes of caramel, fruit, and chocolate, Espresso capsules lungo, which have a rich, balanced taste, Espresso capsules decaffeinated which tastes like caramel, Espresso capsules dark roast which have an intense and robust flavor, and Espresso capsules dark roast which tastes like chocolate and caramel.

Cup of Illy coffee, a brand of Italian coffee roasting company that specializes in the production of espresso. Founded by Francesco Illy in 1933.


Illy coffee tastes slightly more acidic than your usual coffee does. It also has a sharp aroma. Illy provides you with a mellow and somewhat balanced flavor. When you first drink it, it feels sweet and velvety. You can notice notes of caramel, chocolate, toast, and fruit.


The packaging is a critical aspect that helps people decide whether or not they will buy the coffee. It also determines how long the coffee is going to stay fresh.

Illy pays a lot of attention to its coffee is packaging. It is packaged in air-free and pressurized steel containers that have a metal seal. They substitute oxygen inside the package with methylene chloride to preserve the coffee.


Illy offers a subscription to their coffee. You have the option to choose which coffee you want and how often you want it delivered. You can choose between pre-ground, whole bean, and specialized pods.

Variety of coffee machines

You can find 50 different coffee machines that Illy produces. It offers Moka pots, drip brewers, espresso machines, milk frothers, and many more. Illy makes almost any appliance or accessory that you could need.

Cons of Illy


Illy can be pretty expensive considering that you pay $16 for 8.8 oz of coffee. This is probably due to its popularity and the fact that it has to be imported from Italy.

Lacking deeper taste

Many people find that, while Illy provides a great taste, there is no dimension to it. They would prefer it if the coffee had a deeper flavor.

About Lavazza

The history of Lavazza started in 1895 when Luigi Lavazza opened up his first Lavazza store in San Tomasino street, Turin. Luigi was a very innovative man who was very passionate about working with coffee. He has spent a lot of time discovering everything about the origin of coffee as well as its characteristics. He is the man behind coffee blends as he studied the art of blending coffee for a long time.

He went to Brazil and discovered the potential of coffee during that time. This trip inspired Luigi to make the Lavazza coffee we drink today by mixing coffees from all over the world. Turin experienced a bloom during the post-war years, which caused Lavazza to grow from a shop to a small company. What might’ve been a bit strange for that time is that, out of the five founders of the company, 2 of them were women. They were Luigi’s wife and daughter. During its first years of existence, the company came up with Pergamin, which is a packaging made out of two layers of paper. Its job is to keep the taste of the coffee. This innovation allowed people to buy more coffee and store it without having to worry about the flavor fading away.

Luigi’s children decided that they want to focus on selling branded, packaged coffee instead of loose coffee. In 1949 Lavazza patented the first Lavazza tin which was a cylindrical container with a pressure cover. The Lavazza coffee that can be found on the shelves of stores nowadays is vacuum packed, just like it was for the first time in 1950. This packaging was used to keep the smell of the coffee and prevent the fullness of the aroma from fading. The packaging allowed for the coffee to be stored for a longer time.

Lavazza isn’t just changing the lives of people who love coffee. In 2004, a non-profitable organization called The Giuseppe e Pericles Lavazza foundation was founded to help improve living conditions in countries that produced coffee. The company has slowly improved the lives of more than 3,000 farmers in eight countries by encouraging economic growth and increasing the standard of their living.

In collaboration with the Italian Space Agency, Lavazza created ISSpresso, which is the first coffee machine that can be used in space.

Pros of Lavazza

Different types of products

Just like Illy, Lavazza also had to adapt to the consumers that always demand more products. They have one product type less than Illy. Lavazza produces four main categories of coffee, and those are ground coffee, instant coffee, espresso coffee capsules, and whole beans coffee. There are also different products under these four categories.

When it comes to whole beans, there are two main products.

Qualita Rossa

Qualita Rossa is a coffee blend made out of Arabica and Robusta. It has a smooth and well-rounded flavor. The beans originate from Africa and Brazil, and they get processed in Italy. These beans are medium roast, which provides a warm-colored good crema. The aroma of Qualita Rossa is chocolate and dried nuts. This coffee is excellent for drinking at any time of the day because it has mild intensity.

Caffe espresso

Caffe espresso is the other type of whole beans coffee that Lavazza produces. This coffee is made out of 100% arabica beans that are grown in Africa and South and Central America. These beans are also medium roast, which is why they have the crema that has the same golden color as Quality Rossa coffee. However, this coffee has an aroma of flowers and fruit.

Most people don’t like having to grind their own coffee, so they buy ground coffee. Lavazza has seven types of ground coffee.

iTierra Brazil

iTierra Brazil is coffee made out of 100% Arabica beans that originate from Brazil, specifically from the Cerrado plateau. This coffee is excellent for anyone who loves intense and robust coffee. The crema has an amber color. The coffee tastes like honey and chocolate. iTierra, Brazil is excellent for people who love strong coffee because it is very intense. It is also a medium roast.

iTierra Peru

iTierra Peru is also made out of 100% Arabica beans. However, these ones originate from Peru. They are grown on the slopes of the Andes mountains. This type of coffee is very delicate, with golden-colored crema. The aroma of iTierra Peru is floral. This coffee is also medium roast, but it has a mild taste.

Qualita Rossa

Qualita Rossa comes in two versions, ground and whole beans. It is made out of Arabica and Robusta, and it has a smooth and well-rounded flavor. This coffee has a golden colored crema and chocolate flavor.

Caffe espresso

Caffe espresso is also the ground version of the whole bean coffee espresso. This coffee is made from 100% Arabica beans, which produce a dark and intense flavor, which makes it the best espresso to drink during any time of the day. The coffee tastes like caramel and chocolate, and it is rich and smooth.


Lavazza decaffeinated ground coffee

This coffee is made for all people who don’t want to drink coffee with caffeine. It is made out of 100% Arabica blend, which is well-balanced and aromatic. These Arabica beans are mainly grown in Central America. The coffee tastes like dried fruit and has a golden crema. It is mild and it’s great for people who don’t like strong coffee.

Crema e Gusto

Crema e Gusto is a type of coffee made out of a blend of 30% Arabica and 70% Robusta beans. This coffee is strong and has an amber-colored crema. You can also notice some spicy notes. This is probably the best coffee Lavazza offers for people who prefer strong coffee.

Qualita Oro

Literally translated, this coffee is called “golden quality”, which is a fitting name for their high-end coffee. It is made out of 100% Arabica beans, which are mostly grown in Central and South America. The cream has a golden color, and the coffee tastes like fruit and flower.

Most instant coffees are hard to find in the supermarket, but you can get them online.

Lavazza prontissimo

This is the usual instant coffee that Lavazza offers. It is made out of 100% Arabica beans. Since the coffee is a medium roast, it has a smooth and well-balanced taste. This coffee is gluten-free, and it tastes like caramel.

Lavazza prontissimo intenso

This coffee is excellent for people who like more robust coffee. The beans are 100% Arabica, and they create a dark, strong coffee. They give the coffee a toasted flavor.

Lavazza also produces capsule pods, and they come in all the flavors that have been mentioned above. Keep in mind that you need an espresso machine to make coffee using pods. Lavazza has three espresso machines, and those are Blue, A Mondo Mio, and Espresso Point. The Blue machine is an older version, which is why it’s sometimes hard to find pods that go into that machine.

Cup of Lavazza coffee, a brand owned by an Italian manufacturer of coffee products, founded in Turin in 1895 by Luigi Lavazza.


The blend of Arabica and Robusta gives Lavazza coffee a big and deep taste. Lavazza has the aroma of dried fruit and chocolate, and it has a warm color and golden cream. This coffee is usually characterized as full and smooth. The Arabica also provides mild acidity. The taste is, however, balanced, thanks to the bean’s natural sweetness. Lavazza uses Indonesian Robusta, which is of better quality than the beans that grow in Uganda and Vietnam.


Lavazza coffee is packaged in paper and steel containers. These canisters are pressurized and free of air to make sure that the coffee stays fresh. Another way Lavazza protects the freshness of its coffee is by vacuum-packing coffee in the paper. 

Coffee Blend

Lavazza is famous for using Arabica and Robusta beans. This has an impact on the taste of the coffee, but it’s also important for some other reasons. Robusta actually has more antioxidants than Arabica, which makes it healthier. It also has more caffeine, which means that you will need to drink less Lavazza coffee to stay awake.


Even though the price of Lavazza coffee depends on which type you choose, it’s still cheaper than Illy. The price also fluctuates depending on the quality and coffee roast. A typical 8oz container of Lavazza coffee will cost you a bit less than $6. If you’re ordering the coffee, you can get a discount or free shipping when buying in bulk.

Cons of Lavazza

No subscription services

Unfortunately, you can’t get a subscription for Lavazza because it doesn’t offer it. When we compare it to Illy, this creates a significant disadvantage for Lavazza.

Lack of coffee machines

Unlike Illy, Lavazza offers only two espresso machines on its website. The Blue machine, which is an older version, is no longer available.

Which is better, Illy or Lavazza?

It wouldn’t be right to say that there is something wrong with any of these companies or their coffee because that’s not true. Which coffee is better for you will depend on what you’re looking for in a coffee. Illy offers more espresso machines, so if you like using an espresso machine, Illy is a better option for you. Illy also offers subscriptions which are very convenient. It’s a great way to make sure you never run out of coffee again. If you’re someone who likes getting a lot of coffee and storing it, Illy might be better for you because of its packaging. The company replaces the oxygen in the package with methylene chloride so that the coffee doesn’t lose its freshness. You can choose from many roast levels. You can also decide whether you want whole beans, ground, or coffee in a pod.

However, Illy does tend to be a bit more expensive. It also uses only Arabica beans which is perhaps a bit limiting. This means that people who prefer some other types of beans can’t drink any of the types of coffee Illy provides. Those who like grinding their own beans should also look elsewhere because Illy only offers a small section of whole bean options. Illy also doesn’t have any light roasts.

Lavazza, on the other hand, offers a vast selection of whole bean coffee, as well as a good variety of roast levels. Unlike Illy, Lavazza offers both Arabica and Robust, in a blend that made Lavazza coffee so famous today. There are also two types of decaf coffee that Lavazza offers, while Illy only provides one. That being said, Lavazza has very few pre-ground options. The level of roasting isn’t standard. If you decide to use Lavazza pods, you will have to choose only between two coffee makers.  

However, there are some important things when it comes to Lavazza that don’t have anything to do with the taste of their coffee or how it is packaged. Lavazza founded a non-profit organization called The Giuseppe e Pericles Lavazza Foundation in 2004. The goal of this foundation is to improve the living conditions in countries that produce coffee. The iTierra blend was launched that same year and, it is the most significant part of Lavazza’s commitment to sustainability. Thanks to this initiative, the company has improved the lives of more than 3,000 farmers in 8 countries. This has led to economic growth, increased the living standard, and helped introduce new and sustainable techniques for cultivating coffee.

The sustainability report that was conducted in 2012 showed some concrete results. Lavazza decided to continue trying to lower the impact on the environment during every part of the production process.

A few years back Lavazza also decided to evaluate how some of its key products impact the environment. It took a methodological approach called the Life Cycle Assessment. Lavazza studied the raw materials, processing methods of coffee, coffee makers, packaging, the transport of both finished products and raw material, all the way to the disposal of the product.

In 2012, the iTierra project was extended to Peru, Brazil, India, and Tanzania. This involved a large number of rural communities.

If you want to get a coffee that has a smoother and more refined taste and don’t mind that it’s more expensive than the average coffee, you should get Illy. However, if you’re on a budget, but you still want great coffee, or if you want to support a company that cares about the environment and its employees, then Lavazza is a better option for you.

Charlie McFarlane

Specialty Coffee Enthusiast. Hungry for knowledge in the art and science behind specialty coffee and decided to document my journey, while sharing it with the public. More than 10 baristas were interviewed; over 21 farms were visited across 5 countries. Almost 100 Coffee Shops. Bean of choice: Pacamara. Preferred coffee country: Panama. Preferred Brewing Method: Aeropress. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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