This week's story about IllyCaffe's Head barista reminded me of that excellent espresso I have every time I'm in Europe. I no longer remember exactly, but it's possible that my very first espresso was an Illy, on my trip to Italy in 1993. From the article, it sounds like Mr. Illy should exchange coffee-making tips with David Schomer from Espresso Vivace:
He says that his firm is inching ever closer to delivering “perfection in every cup”. His particular obsession is with technical innovation. He claims (though some espresso-lovers dispute this), that Illycaffe has been responsible for three of the seven big innovations in coffee-making in the past century, as a traditional Italian craft has become an industrial process. The firm standardised espresso-making, and developed the paper pod containing a single dose of pre-ground coffee for an espresso machine. (Others invented decaffeination, instant coffee, multiple packets and liquid coffee.) Mr Illy is a chemistry graduate—at university he wrote a thesis on the “Quality of Espresso from a Chemical Perspective”—and is as enthusiastic about the science of coffee as he is about its taste. Now Illycaffe is implementing what it regards as its third big innovation. This is a two-stage espresso-making process involving “hyper-fusion” (which intensifies the drink's aroma), and “emulsification” (which makes it smoother).
Can you buy Illy whole beans in Seattle? Yes, at Williams-Sonoma at Bellevue Square, plus a few QFCs like the one on NE 8th in Bellevue or on Capitol Hill.