The University of Coffee

How do we obtain the perfect coffee? How do we recognize it? What kind of water should we use? How do we distinguish the aromas? Which is the proper grind for the coffee beans? Which farming techniques maximize the quality while minimizing the environmental impact?

Illy was founded over eighty years ago and since then the company has cultivated and developed a priceless patrimony of knowledge, able to respond to these and a thousand other questions. The custodian of this wealth is the Università del Caffè (University of Coffee), and since 1999 it has been dedicated to promoting and propagating the culture of quality coffee to farmers, baristas and aficionados.

For it isn’t enough to only safeguard knowledge, it must also be shared. Knowledge is the engine behind the virtuous circle of quality: to obtain excellent coffee, the producer must know the best farming techniques, in full respect of the environment; to serve this coffee, the barista must master all the rules and the tricks of the trade to prepare it; and to enjoy it, the consumer must know how to recognize and locate it.

With its main campus in Trieste and 25 branches located from Shanghai to São Paulo, the Università del Caffè is present all over the world. It is an international, transcultural and multidisciplinary research network, supporting illy’s suppliers, collaborators and clients. Its mission is to ensure and certify the highest level of quality in every market and to teach people how to enjoy the best possible tasting experience. With this purpose, two important institutional accords were also reached during Expo Milan 2015: an agreement was made for the transfer of knowledge in Ethiopia, and we signed a declaration of intent in Colombia, with SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje), to initiate international cooperation in pursuit of the goal of knowledge transfer and best practice in the production and preparation of coffee. Over the years, illy’s grand project has also availed itself of partnerships with the University of Innsbruck; the Carlo Cattaneo University; the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo; the MIB, Trieste’s School of Management; the Coffee Board of India; and Colombia’s Federación Nacional de Cafeteros. 75% of our students are professionals in the sectors of espresso bars, restaurants and hospitality; 20% are coffee aficionados and connoisseurs; and 5% are producers and farmers.

Research conducted by professors and international experts supports the university’s objective to provide producers, farmers and professionals with detailed technical and theoretical studies into every aspect of their work. Examples of this integrated approach include side-by-side coaching for green coffee suppliers, and different training sections dedicated to baristas and bar professionals (complete, specialist, and business management courses). The coffee school focuses on aspiring coffee connoisseurs, teaching participants about every aspect of coffee, from a historical and acultural point of view.

The university’s courses are divided into three different areas: higher education, training, and the coffee school.

Higher edUniversityucation leads to the world’s only Master’s Degree in Coffee Economics and Science, in collaboration with the University of Trieste, the University of Udine, the SISSA – International School for Advanced Studies, the CBM Cluster in Biomedicine, and the Trieste Coffee Cluster (the Agency for the Development of Trieste’s Industrial Coffee District). It offers students relevant and multidisciplinary knowledge about the coffee world, covering the entire productive cycle. Support activities also offer producers and growers constant, side-by-side coaching, and our goal is to involve all the suppliers of green coffee.

Training, on the other hand, is dedicated to baristas and bar professionals and it not only offers a complete course to become a coffee expert, it also has specialist courses (espresso excellence, cappuccino excellence, artistic cappuccinos) and courses in business management, ranging from bar image to sales techniques and bar economics.
The coffee school is aimed at aspiring coffee connoisseurs, teaching participants about every aspect of coffee (in particular espresso coffee), concentrating in particular on its taste and flavor. Students can also learn all the tricks to achieve a perfect coffee, whether it be coffee made with an espresso or a Moka machine, filter coffee or French press.

The university also proposes an e-learning platform, created to offer a simple and intuitive instrument for online study reserved exclusively to illy clients. This instruction is aimed at the world of professionals—Espressamente clients, International Account members, and people who have attended the Università del Caffè’s courses for professionals—and is divided into two sections, one dedicated entirely to espresso coffee and the other to filter coffee.

With more than 30.000 attendees for 2015 – and more than 194.000 since 2000 – ,the Università del Caffè is a privileged place dedicated to hospitality professionals and baristas, to coffee producers and aficionados, and to aspiring connoisseurs: in short, to everyone who shares illycaffè’s passion for coffee and knowledge. The university also involves the greater public at important events, creating an opportunity to make coffee a true movement and form a vast community of coffee lovers.

Illycaffè’s aim is to share the knowledge it has gained and developed over the years, in order to create an informed coffee culture, increasing the expertise of every person involved in coffee, from the plant to the cup. The creation of this culture, research conducted on coffee and the dissemination of the knowledge it generates are the essential instruments for valorizing the pursuit of pleasure and good living.


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