Ernesto Illy

I am a cocktail of science and business.

That’s how Dr. Ernesto Illy liked to define himself, with an epithet as uncomplicated as he was. Yet read in another light, it reveals the complexity of his story and his boundless capacity for innovation and experimentation.

The son of Francesco Illy, the founder of illycaffè, Ernesto was born in Trieste on July 18, 1925. In 1947, he graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Bologna, and in 1957 he became the co-owner and director of illycaffè. From 1963-2005, he served as the company’s chairman, then honorary chairman, until his passing on February 3, 2008.

He co-founded the Association Scientifique Internationale du Café (now the Association for Science and Information on Coffee) and the organization on Physiological Effects of Coffee (PEC) in Paris, France. He was a member of the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, and chairman of the Coffee Promotion Committee of the International Coffee Organization (ICO).