The Hungarian inventor behind the world-famous Illy coffee
Did you know that the famous Illy coffee was founded by a Hungarian businessman and inventor? Ferenc Illy was also the first in the world to use vacuum packaging to keep roasted coffee fresh, and his invention, the first automatic coffee machine revolutionised coffee making. His company, illycaffé is over 80 years old, szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu writes.
Ferenc Illy was born on October 7, 1892, in Temesvár (Timișoara), in today’s Romania. At 22, he was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army and he served at several fronts during World War I. After the war, he settled in Trieste, Northern Italy, and this is where the story of coffee begins.
Trieste traded mainly in coffee at the time, as well as with tropical fruit, wine, oil, and building materials. Illy found work at companies dealing with cocoa and coffee roasting, and he fell in love with a Trieste woman. His grandson, Andrea Illy wrote that his grandfather had three great loves: Trieste, coffee, and the lovely Doris.Francesco Illy. Photo: wikipedia.org
Illy was the first to use vacuum packaging for his coffee. With this method, he ensured that the coffee would retain its freshly roasted quality even after being transported. He also swapped oxygen for nitrogen to preserve the coffee for longer in the hermetically sealed containers.
In 1933, Ferenc, or as he was known in Italy, Francesco, founded his own company, illycaffé. This was a brave endeavour, because over 60 coffee companies existed in Trieste at the time, dating back to the 1800s.
In 1935, Illy had another invention which revolutionised coffee making. He created the world’s first automatic coffee machine which used steam instead of pressurised water. The Illetta became the predecessor of today’s espresso machine.Photo: illy.com
Illy devoted his entire life to his company. He died in Trieste in 1956, and his family continued his legacy. His son Ernesto, a food chemist, became the head of illycafé. Ernesto also established the Universitá del Caffé, which organises courses on high-quality coffee-making all around the world, including Budapest. Illycafé is currently run by the third generation of the family, Ferenc Illy’s grandson Andrea Illy.
Photos: illy.com, wikipeia.org, twitter.com/illyusa
Copy editor: bm