Tuesday, December 26, 2006


nearly fell outta my chair

"it was andrea illy's grandfather, francesco illy, who back in the 1930s invented the espresso, a steam-driven coffee maker to replace the little pots italians used until then."

my my has this article from the times made my inbox explode today. of course, as usual with any article i ever know even the slightest thing about, the times gets some basic facts completely wrong.

on the contention above that the espresso machine was invented in the '30s by illy, i think the berezza, bambi, arduino, rancilio, and pavoni families may have some sharply pointed comments. and i believe history will bear them out.

i'm sure illy didn't tell the times this, because in my experience, illy marketing people don't lie. this may because they don't really have to. . .they do sell very high-quality beans and the european stores do offer high-quality beverage service.

to deny the times' claim is not to underplay the importance of the illy family in global espresso. long-time readers know i personally worship dr. ernesto illy, who i once met for about 45 seconds at an scaa conference.

i like his coffee -- but i can't get it fresh, as long-time readers have often heard me mention. his little can system seems to fail a lot if the cans are poorly stored or handled, which is common in nyc.

what i think the illy people did probably tell the times, and which the paper in its standard klutziness bungled, is this:

"in 1935, its founder francesco illy invented the illetta, the first coffee machine with automatic water dosing and a jet of compressed air -- the predecessor of all [modern] espresso machines."

this from illy's website. notice that the illy family claims only the invention of a couple of key features, not the invention of espresso itself, nor the espresso machine itself.

i added the modern, because in my experience speaking to illy representatives -- long-time readers know i used to be acquainted with guido zoli -- the illy people always acknowledged the existence of other machines like the gorgeous old pavonis, arduinos, and la marzoccos. i've never had an illy rep lie to me.

the la marz website may actually have the best wording, when they say guiseppe bambi was "among a small group of pioneers." a small group of proud, driven, and highly competitive pioneers!

and i think it's remarkable that nearly all of these families are still players in the market today.

again, it's a simple of case of a reporter, in this case tagliabue, failing to do the simplest google search, or speak to any other espresso firms or even coffee experts. and the editors fail in their homework too.

if i, me, a dopey li'l skirt with a minor coffee hobby -- i'm hardly the largest machine geek around -- and a preference for standing on my head can immediately call the times on this. . .i imagine quite a few corporate p.r. people are on the phone to the times right now!

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posted by fortune | 7:22 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 2 comments

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