Want To Make Coffee Like Your Favorite Coffee Shop?

Download our FREE guide to learn how to brew coffee like a barista at your favorite coffee shop. Just enter your email address to download the guide today!

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Get our FREE Coffee Lover Newsletter

Sign up for a free newsletter to help you brew amazing coffee at home.

We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.
  • Illy vs Lavazza: Italian Coffee Brand Showdown

    CLICK HERE to subscribe to our weekly emails on finding and brewing amazing coffee!

    So, most coffee fans will have heard of two Italian brands; Illy and Lavazza.

    At first glance, you might think that these two coffees are much the same. But wait! There are subtle (and not so subtle) differences that you should be aware of before you buy.

    Just so you know, if you click on a product on RoastyCoffee.com and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

    Illy vs Lavazza

    Illy Overview

    Illy was founded in 1933 in Italy by Francesco Illy. This intrinsically Italian coffee roasting company specializes in the production of espresso.

    The company produces its signature, superior-quality blend of coffee in three different roasts; regular, dark roast, and decaf. Also, Illy offers single-origin Arabica beans that are sourced from six countries: Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, and Costa Rica.

    Seasonally, Illy brings out its low-caffeine Arabica, Idillyum. Growers produce this particular blen from  beans grown in the rich, volcanic soil of El Salvador.

    Illy coffee is delivered as pre-ground coffee, whole beans, iperEspresso capsules, and E.S.E. espresso coffee pods. Further, Illy’s pre-ground coffee is packed in steel containers, pressurized with inert gas, rather than air, to keep the coffee fresher for longer.

    Lastly, Illy’s reputation as a producer of premium coffee is largely built on their use of only 100% Arabica beans in all their products.

    Lavazza Overview

    So, Lavazza is also an Italian maker of coffee products. The company was founded in 1895 in Turin by Luigi Lavazza.

    Like Illy, Lavazza uses coffee that’s imported from different sources around the world, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Uganda, Mexico, and the US. Although some Lavazza coffee is 100% Arabica, much of their blended coffee is a mixture of Arabica and Robusta coffees.

    The company is anxious that their support of sustainable production is viewed as being high on their agenda. For this reason, they have developed The ¡Tierra! Project, an initiative that seeks to promote sustainable agriculture programs in Honduras, Peru, and Colombia. The idea is to improve coffee quality, as well as look after the environment and the working conditions for plantation workers living in those communities.

    Like Illy, Lavazza offers their coffee as whole beans, pre-ground coffee, and coffee pods.

    So, how do these Italian coffee giants compare?

    Target Market

    Lavazza is certainly a very well-known brand of coffee in Italy, but that seems to be mainly thanks to their pre-ground coffee that’s the buyers’ choice for use in Moka pot brewing.

    Although there are a few different Moka blends to choose from, they all taste similar, thanks to the larger percentage of Robusta coffee that they contain.

    On the other hand, Illy has a more significant presence in the Italian espresso market and consumers generally regard it as a producer of a more high-end product. The unique flavor of their espresso has also earned the brand some renown.

    Robusta vs Arabica

    As we mentioned, Illy uses 100% Arabica beans; whereas, Lavazza uses a blend of Arabica and Robusta. If you want a full breakdown on this distinction, you can read up on it here.

    But here are a few key points:

    All that said, it seems that most Italians vote for Illy as their preferred brand.

    But what about flavor?

    Of course, the most important factor of any coffee-based drink is the taste.

    Illy Flavor Profile

    This brand is sold at a higher price point than Lavazza, but Illy still enjoys huge popularity around the world, especially for its medium roast Moka pot ground coffee.

    Illy coffee is immediately sweet and velvety on the palate with notes of fruit, toast, caramel, and chocolate. Floral accents and sweet with honey and almond comprise the fragrant aroma. Fans of Illy coffee say that the secret to their success is the consistency of flavor and quality of the brew, cup after cup.

    Also, Illy sources their 100% Arabica beans from growers across four continents. Nine varieties of high-quality beans are combined and carefully balanced to produce the blend.

    It’s interesting to note that coffee drinkers in the north of Italy prefer the milder, brighter flavor profile of 100% Arabica coffee beans. Whereas further south, tastes lean more towards the woody, bitter mouth produced by the Robusta bean.

    So, not surprisingly, Illy is more popular among northern Italians who prefer the less bitter, more subtle flavor profile.

    Lavazza Flavor Profile

    Now, let’s take a look at the taste profile of one of Lavazza’s most popular products, Lavazza Gran Crema. Washed Arabica beans from Central America and Brazil make up 70% of this blend, while washed Robusta beans from Indonesia make up the remaining 30%.

    The Arabica provides a mild acidity, balanced out by the bean’s natural sweetness. The Indonesia Robusta used is better-quality than the more woody beans from Uganda and Vietnam that are traditionally used to make espresso blends, especially in Southern Italy. Washing the Robusta beans removes the bitterness and changes the taste profile to a deep, chocolatey flavor instead.

    This Lavazza blend is a best-seller in the US and Europe, probably due to its versatility and natural affinity with milk-based drinks and the demographic’s general preference for a milder flavored brew.

    Wrapping it up

    So, in a nutshell, coffee addicts:

    Of course, here at Roasty we recommend that you check out some of the smaller, local artisan coffee manufacturers. But we won’t judge you if you prefer to take the commercial route and try out one of these brands.

    Happy Caffeinating!

    Recommended Reading

    Light Roast vs Dark Roast
    We all love coffee that's been roasted to perfection--but which roast? There are many key differences between light roast and dark roast coffee, and you'll need to know what they are to decide which one you prefer. We've got all you need, right here!
    Cafe au Lait vs Latte: Milk Measuring Up
    Confused as to what exactly the difference is between a cafe au lait vs latte?? Or maybe you just want to know how to make them? Read on for our guide that covers both.
    Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig: Pod or Pass?
    Are you a mad scientist with a need for range or a busy bee with a need for speed? We've put together this guide on Ninja Coffee Bar vs Keurig to help you find the right machine for you.
    Illy vs Nespresso: Choosing Your Capsule Companion
    Today, we're taking a look at two brands that dominate in the global market, but you may not have seen too much of in the States: Illy vs Nespresso. Read on for in-depth comparisons of pods and machines so you can find the pod-ner that works for you.
    How to Use Eggshells in Coffee for a Less Acidic Cup
    Check out how you can use eggshells in coffee to reduce the acidity and make a cup of coffee that doesn't taste too bitter.
    Roasty Coffee

    Learn to Make Barista-Level Coffee From The Comfort of Your Home

    The Home Barista Coffee Course 14-lesson video course about brewing consistently amazing coffee at home. Stream or download the entire course to learn how to make coffee as good as your local barista for a fraction of the cost.

    Click Here To Learn More