Illy, Andrea

Andrea Illy is the chair of illycaffè S.p.A., a benefit company founded in Trieste in 1933 with the mission of offering the greatest coffee to the world, and is the co-chair of the Regenerative Society Foundation.

From 2013 to 2019, he was chair of the Altagamma Foundation – an organisation that represents the most important brands in the Italian cultural and creative industry. Under his leadership, the Altagamma Foundation was officially recognised as an ambassador of the Italian lifestyle in the world. he has been a member of the board of directors of the Bank of Italy since 2013,and from 2015, a member of its Internal Audit Advisory Committee. From 2017 to 2020, he was a member of the Assolombarda Advisory Board, the Milan industry association and in July 2022, he was appointed chair of the International Advisory Board of the Trieste Laboratory on Quantitative Sustainability (LTSQ). 

As an entrepreneur, Andrea Illy is a passionate supporter of the stakeholder company business model and firmly advocates for corporate responsibility as means to improve society. He defines himself as a “humanist chemist” who promotes culture and art, a sphere in which illycaffè has always been committed. 

Andrea Illy has received numerous professional honours including being recognised  as a Marketing Superstar (Advertising Age, 1996); Entrepreneur of the Year (Ernst & Young, 2004); Capo d’Orlando (2013), and Guido Carli (2014). In 2018 he was named Cavaliere del Lavoro by the President of the Italian Republic and in 2021 he received Premio Leonardo in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic. 

He received a degree in chemistry from the University of Trieste, and an Executive MBA from SDA-Bocconi in Milan. Additionally, he earned a certificate from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, and studied Total Quality Management in Japan, Innovation at MIT, Exponential Technologies at Singularity University and Complexity Science at the University of Oxford. 

He represents the third generation of the Trieste-based family at the helm of illycaffè S.p.A. founded in 1933 by Francesco Illy. Today he serves as president and he was CEO until 2016 for a  period of twenty-two years. 

The Regenerative Society Foundation 

Andrea Illy is co-chair of the regenerative society foundation, created in 2020 by a group of Italian entrepreneurs and international organisations such as UN SDSN, the B Corp system, and the foundation for sustainable development, with the goal of engaging as many businesses as possible in the journey toward a new model of regenerative socio-economic development. Andrea Illy co-chairs the RSF with American economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. 

The coffee expert 

Among the many positions held as a top coffee expert: 

– President of ASIC – the sole international association dedicated to the science of coffee (from 1999 to 2014);
– Board member and chair of the Sustainability Committee of D.E. Master Blender 1753, contributing to the company’s spin-out and subsequent sale (from 2012 to 2013);
– Chair of the Promotion and Market Development Committee of the International Coffee Organization, for which he oversaw the largest celebration of coffee during the EXPO Milano 2015. 

illycaffè development and recognition 

Since 1990, chiefly under Andrea Illy’s leadership, illycaffè has recorded double-digit growth, and has become the most global coffee brand and quality leader. The company is famous for its innovation in espresso technology, and pioneered significant advances in its industry, such as directly sourcing coffee from growers and paying a premium on top of market prices, establishing the University of Coffee to propagate coffee knowledge, and developing the first-ever third-party sustainability certification for a value chain. illycaffè has been recognized as the most sustainable company in the coffee sector (ICRT, 2014), as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies (Ethisphere Institute, 2013-2022). The company won the Italian Best Performance Award in 2017 

Articles and publications 

Recognised as a coffee authority, Andrea Illy’s writings are published on a regular basis, and he serves as a speaker at major conferences throughout the world. In 1995, he published Espresso Coffee: The Chemistry of Quality (Academic Press), now in its second edition, and his memoir, A Coffee Dream, was published in 2015 (Codice Edizioni). In 2018 was published Italia Felix (Piemme), a conversation with the journalist Francesco Antonioli. He was the main contributor to Altagamma: Strategie per l’Italia d’Eccellenza, published in 2018 (Skyra). In 2019 he began the development of a Virtuous Agriculture model, is beneficial for the environment and health. 

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