The first-ever Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards — held this year in New York City — was a celebration of illycaffè’s proud tradition of sourcing, roasting, and distributing the highest-quality coffees available. The event, held in the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations on Nov. 1, was hosted by Gordon Elliot (TV personality and executive producer of The Chew), and featured 27 of illycaffè’s most talented coffee producers from nine different countries. Representatives from each of the 27 coffee-growing regions were in attendance, waiting anxiously to see if their coffee would be crowned the world’s best.
Andrea Illy, illycaffè’s current CEO and chairman, came onstage before the winners were announced and delivered a powerful speech highlighting the company’s near-obsessive dedication to producing the absolute perfect cup of coffee. He made it clear that illycaffè only buys coffee from the best possible growers at the best possible prices. In fact, the company often pays 30 percent above market prices to insure that it receives the absolute best, top-quality product. The family-led, Italian coffee company genuinely loves the entire ritual of coffee and treats everyone along the supply chain, from growers, pickers, and roasters to consumers, with an equal level of respect.
After Illy’s speech, it was time to announce the winner. The competition was close — so close that it came down to the tie-breaker category of espresso aroma. Ultimately, the coffee grown by Ahmed Legesse, of Sidamo, Ethiopia, narrowly edged out the victory. Illy explained that Ethiopian coffee contains a mysterious compound that is unique to the region and that science has yet been able to replicate.
The evening was a celebration of a global, yet intimately connected, group of people working toward the same goal — to perfect the craft of coffee.