Illy vs. Lavazza: Specs, Price, Review

A cup of Italian coffee whether it is a double shot of espresso, cappuccino, macchiato or a latte is often the highlight of the day for most people who have formed a habit of always taking coffee first thing in the morning.

But when most people think of or talk about Italian coffee, a debate on the best Italian coffee almost always comes up. And in many cases, it is usually on which one between Illy and Lavazza is the best.

The two are among the most popular manufacturers of Italian coffee and have a presence in more than 100 countries across the globe. If you are going to pick one brand among them, it is important to first understand what each brand is all about and what it offers.

While ultimately trying out both brands will help you make a more informed choice, below we provide an in-depth comparison of the two to make the decision easier for you.

Comparison Chart


Illy

Lavazza

Origins

Italy, 1895

Italy, 1933

Beans Types Used

100% Arabica

Arabica and Robusta

Coffee Products

Coffee beans, ground coffee. K-cup pods, E.S.E pods, capsules

Coffee beans, ground coffee, instant coffee, coffee pods/capsules

Aroma

Sharp and slightly acidic

Note of chocolate and dried fruit

Flavor

Balanced and mellow

Full, smooth and peaty

Packaging

Pressurized and air-free can with a metal seal

Vacuum-packed in special paper packs and canisters

Average Price

From $10 per 8.8 oz can

From $5.8 per 8 oz can

Illy vs. Lavazza

Illy and Lavazza are both Italian companies that have been roasting and grinding coffee for many decades now, and if you are a regular coffee drinker the chances are that you use both or either of them.

While there are still many other good Italian coffee brands like Danesi and Kimbo, Illy and Lavazza seem to have an edge when it comes to market size and popularity.

And while both have some amazing coffee products, if you are going to choose one, you need to know how they differ. But first, check out our overview of the two brands.

#1. Brand Overview

When looking at coffee from Illy and Lavazza, it might look quite similar but the beverage it makes will differ in everything from the aroma to the flavor. And the similarity between the two probably ends at the fact that they are both Italian given that they also originate from different periods.

Illy

Illy

Illy is the younger of the two popular coffee roasting companies as it was founded in 1933 in Trieste, Italy by Francesco Illy after whom it is named before being expanded further by his son Ernesto Illy.

To date, Illy is still a family business that is currently run by Andrea Illy a third generation descendant of the founder.

Illy’s coffee is now present in more than 140 countries across the globe and is famous for its superior-quality coffee blend that is available in three roasts which are regular, decaf and dark roast.

As business continues to come in, Illy has also been expanding its range of products with one of the most notable recent development being the introduction of single-origin Arabica beans roast sourced from 6 countries which are Brazil, India, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

Lavazza

Lavazza

Lavazza has been roasting and grinding coffee for more than 120 years now which makes it one of the oldest Italian coffees and this should explain why it has a presence in almost all countries in the western world and most others across the globe.

The company was started in 1895 by Luigi Lavazza in Turin, Italy and like Illy, it is also named after the founder. Also, like Illy, the company is still a family administered business with the third and fourth generation descendants being currently at the helm.

Considering the average annual revenue, Lavazza is the bigger of the two companies given that it makes more money, and it also currently employs more people than Illy.

Besides offering a variety of coffee products just like Illy, Lavazza is also known for its massive support for sustainable coffee production that seeks to promote sustainable agriculture in coffee producing regions while also increases coffee production and quality.

#2. Beans Used

While both Illy and Lavazza use coffee from various countries from different parts of the world, each company seems to have a preference for certain types of coffee beans.

Illy gets its reputation as a top manufacturer of premium coffee mostly from the fact that their signature coffee blend is made from 100% Arabica bean but the precise constituent of the blend being a closely guarded secret.

However, Illy still has many products in the market that are a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans that are roasted in different degrees.

With Lavazza on the other hand, most of their signature and best-selling coffee will feature a blend of Arabica and Robusta. However, like Illy, the company also has some 100% Arabica coffee currently available in the market.

#3. Coffee Products Available

Given that the vast coffee market and ever-increasing demand for all kinds of coffee to cater for different brewing style and coffee making methods, both Illy and Lavazza try to cater for all kinds of coffee consumers by having several products.

Illy has 5 different kinds of products in the market which are whole coffee beans, ground coffee, k-cup pods, E.S.E pods, and capsules. And each of these products is further available in different categories. For example, their whole beans are available in 7 types based on their roast and origin.

Lavazza also tries to cater to all kinds of coffee consumers with their products and they make 4 main categories of coffee which are whole beans coffee, ground coffee, instant coffee, and espresso coffee capsules.

Like Illy, Lavazza also has different products under the four categories. For example, for whole beans, they have Qualita Rossa that is a blend of Arabica and Robusta and Lavazza Caffe Espresso which is 100% Arabica.

#4. Coffee Aroma and Flavor

That wonderful coffee aroma that you always look forward to in the morning comes from the coffee beans and different types of coffee will produce different aromas.

With Illy coffee, you can expect to get a slightly acidic and sharp aroma which is at least a step above what you get from coffee from other top brands. When it comes to the flavor, with Illy you get somewhat balanced and mellow flavors.

When using Lavazza coffee, you get a big and deep taste given the Arabica and Robusta blend. Also, the coffee will be characterized by a warm color and a golden cream and the aroma will have notes of dried fruit and chocolate. Generally, Lavazza coffee is full, smooth and it also has a peaty flavor that is derived from the medium roasted beans.

But with all coffee types, there are many factors that will determine the aroma and flavor that you get key among them being the freshness of the coffee. Coffee that has been sitting around in the open for long will not have the rich flavor and aroma of fresh coffee.

Also, the method of brewing will have an effect on flavor and aroma. For example, coffee made with French press will have a different flavor from coffee made using an automatic drip coffee maker.

#6. Coffee Packaging

How the coffee is packaged also matters and for most people, it will typically be the first thing that influences their decision on whether they buy the coffee or not. Also, packaging determines the freshness of the coffee and how long it will remain fresh.

Of the two coffee brands, Illy seems to pay more attention to the packaging as their coffee is usually packed in pressurized and air-free steel canisters finished with a metal seal. Also, the coffee is preserved by substituting oxygen inside the canister with methylene chloride.

Lavazza, on the other hand, uses both paper and steel canister to package their coffee. Their canisters are also pressurized and air-free to preserve coffee's freshness while the coffee in papers is vacuum-packed also to preserve its freshness.

#7. Average Beans Prices

What you pay for either Illy or Lavazza coffee will depend on various factors such as the quantity, type, and coffee roast hence it is hard to give them an average price tag.

However, for a typical 8.8-ounce canister of Illy coffee, you can expect to pay at least $10 while an 8-ounce can of Lavazza coffee will retail for as little as $5.8.

With both the two coffee brands, you can save more cash by buying several canisters of coffee at once, and you can also get lower or even free shipping cost when buying in bulk.

Which One is Better? 

There is no doubt that both Illy and Lavazza have made their mark in the coffee universe given that they are two of the most popular coffee brands globally. But, choosing between them can be a tall order even for experienced baristas and regular coffee drinkers.

Given that there is no single coffee brand that will be best for everyone, your specific preferences and tastes as an individual should guide you when picking between Illy and Lavazza.

However, if you like coffee that has a smoother and more refined taste and do not mind spending a little more cash, Illy is the brand for you. But, if you have a modest budget and enjoy coffee with a more robust flavor and a little more acidity, Lavazza will work for you.