If you want a really good espresso, you have to go to Italy – all coffee lovers know this. But fewer people know that Italians owe their leading role on the coffee market not to themselves but to a Hungarian businessman and inventor born in Timisoara (Temesvár).
This man is none other than
the father of the Illy coffee empire, Ferenc Illy.
As Helló Magyar wrote, Illy was born in a Transylvanian town in 1892 to a Hungarian carpenter and a German woman. He completed his schooling there and was drafted into the Austro–Hungarian army at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 when he was 22.
He fought on the southern fronts, including the Battle of Isonzo, and settled in Trieste after the war ended.
There, he married Vittoria, an Italian piano teacher with German–Irish roots. The couple had two children together, Ernesto and Hedda.
He found a job in a coffee roasting and distribution company where he was not satisfied with the preservation method, so he implemented some changes based on his own ideas to improve the process. He replaced the air used in the packaging with high-pressure nitrogen and hermetically sealed the cans,
basically inventing vacuum packaging.
The roasted coffee thus retained its aroma much longer. Shortly afterwards, in 1933, he founded his now world-famous company, Illycafe, and set about designing his own coffee machine. It was the world’s first automatic espresso coffee machine, which was a hot steam coffee machine. He patented it in 1935 as Illetta.
All similar devices made since then have been based on Illy’s invention.
Ferenc Illy died in Trieste (Trieszt) in 1956. The company was then taken over by his son, Ernesto Illy, who graduated as a food engineer to follow in his father’s footsteps. He worked as a manager at Illycaffè in the post-World War II period.
The Illy company is still in the hands of the family’s third-generation descendants today, but since its beginning, it has grown into a global company. They are present in 140 countries around the world, and their popularity remains unbroken.
Source: Helló Magyar, Daily News Hungary