A while ago, there was a topic discussing about Italian commercialized-packaged coffee like Lavazza and Illy. And they’re comparing the coffee to local roasted coffee like Red Birds. Surprisingly, the poster concluded that the Illy compares favorably and actually even beats the freshly roasted Red Bird. That’s a huge shock to me!
Red Bird coffee was the first roaster that I bought from before I even knew Coffee Kind. As far as I remembered, the coffee was really nutty and chocolatey. Not to mention very forgiving as espresso. I had even gone back to it quite a few times because it tastes good and also the price is super reasonable at 5lb. So, deep inside I actually have a soft spot for Red Bird and honestly felt that it was an offense to even compare to Red Bird coffee. Anyhow, I tried to be more neutral and decided to give it a try. ;P
So, I went to place an order on an Illy medium roast. I wanted to see for myself how good the Illy is. The Illy coffee is definitely a little more expensive than most coffee, at $16 for 8.8oz. That cost I suspect is probably due to the extra effort into designing the can, as well as to advertise it, and ship it all the way from Italy.
I finally got the Illy last week and gave it a try. I must say I am quite impressed by the design on the can of the Illy coffee. It’s an aluminum can sprinkled with some red touches that makes it stand out very much as an elegant design. There’s also a pin hole at the bottom of the can, which I suspect is the one way valve. However, when I opened it, I was slightly disappointed. Usually, when I open my fresh coffee, I would be greeted by a pop of strong coffee aromas. But not on this, I need to work slightly harder with my nose to pick up the smell.
So, I went to pull some espresso shots with it. The flow actually looks very decent, with generous amount of crema. A sip into the shot.....hmm, I can actually taste some strong acidity from the shots. This is normally not present in the commercial coffee like Starbucks. So it’s a point to Illy. (even though I personally prefer something less bright. )The next point, the Illy is actually decently roasted. There’s no off flavors from roasting. The tastiness is actually close to the other fresh coffee. Everything seems pretty good so far. But when I try to enjoy it further, the lack of deeper dimension is very apparent. It has strong acidity, pleasant flavors, but there’s some deeper nuances complexity that are missing.
Overall, the Illy coffee is very excellent for a commercialized packaged coffee. Definitely, I could live on it when I am out of fresh coffee. But given a choice, I would still prefer the roasted-to-order coffees. I supposed, when you're pulling shots into milk drink, all the nuances will be gone and in this case, there would be almost no difference between fresh coffee and Illy coffee. However, one caveat is that you need to finish the coffee as soon as it's opened. In my experience, the coffee deteriorated super quickly and started doing worse after day 2. In conclusion, for me fresh coffee is still the best at the end of the day. This is where Coffee Kind comes in and why I appreciate this website so much!!