Monday, August 1, 2011
sprudge dropped an article the other day about global espresso pioneers illy caffe, and more specifically regarding illy's recent marketing of single-origins components of their signature espresso blend.

we're going to come back to that, though. for the time being i have a story.

so, last summer i went to italy. you may peruse my exploits in that nation here. i spent a month studying small- to medium-sized corporations in rome, torino and milan. you may read about these travels here. late in the trip, i took a train to trieste because, as you may also know, i'm something of a coffee nerd and trieste is home to the corporate headquarters and main roastworks of illy caffe, one of the worlds' exclusive coffee brands.

illy caffe is what is referred to as a lifestyle brand. their product is meant to create a sense of belonging in the consumer to a social contract or a memory, or even a desire. their product, which happens to a high-quality espresso blend available in a variety of grinds and roast profiles, is simple the most elite espresso blend in the world, produced with the finest-grade arabica coffees that can be found.

that's what their marketing materials say, anyways. but it's not really about the coffee at all. not really. it's about the ambiance.

seriously. try this out. go to the swankest italian joint you can and you can bet they're serving illy, lavazza or segafredo. you'll know the culprit by spotting various metallic packaging pieces, illuminated plexiglass plates, logos on everything from cupware to sugar packets to napkins to menu items. the motif of the brand is stamped on everything and, in being so accessible and repetitive, becomes background noise that lives the very air of the business. these brands lend authenticity to the experience, whether it's dining, sipping, clubbing, what have you.

i'm getting detracted, though. the point is that i took a day exploring the roastworks and i picked an ear or two about illy intentions for the growth of their brand. one question i asked was,

"hey guys, with all the beans you have moving through your roastworks, why haven't you capitalized on global barista trends and released single-origin versions of your coffees?"

logistically, it only made sense. they had the beans in inventory, they manufactured their own packaging, created their own marketing materials... it seemed at the time to be a huge point of neglect on the part of the legacy italian espresso companies.

moreso, it seemed a grievous oversite in their global marketing efforts that they couldn't see the untapped market potential in single-origin, specialty coffees. with their close relationships with origin growing partners and vertical integration of all marketing activities, from production to manufacture to sales, the company seemed capable of exploiting the specialty market... but just didn't.

since then a lot has happened for that company. they've seen a lot of growth in the united states with a number of forward-thinking marketing endeavors. they introduced a ready-to-drink coffee product, reaching the ever-growing energy drink market. they converted home users with consumer-friendly, pod-based espresso systems that produced drinks just like they got at that cafe in italy that one time. they partnered with local restaurants and coffeeshops, lending certifications and prestige to those that hailed illy's name and kept their bright red umbrellas outside on their patios.

i guess you guys see where this thing is going. they've decided to revisit the idea of single-origin offerings. and this is really cool news. only, they have plenty more coffees to offer, so one hopes they continue the campaign and extend their offerings. and really, let us americans get this stuff in our grinders.

Daniel Stewart Mueller at 10:08 PM | 0 comments