Illycaffè’s history in Brazil began back in 1980. My father, Ernesto Illy, was the first to travel Brazil’s rural areas far and wide to talk to coffee producers about a coffee market that was ready to pay higher than market prices in order to obtain a superior quality product. Since then, illycaffè has been supporting Brazil’s high-quality production chain by promoting quality, sustainability and the sharing of knowledge.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1991, illycaffè created the Prêmio Ernesto Illy de Qualidade do Café para Espresso (Brazil Quality Award for Espresso Coffee), which every year awards a Brazilian producer who has achieved the highest quality coffee. A judging panel composed of specialists selects the best coffees: the coffee samples are tested and the beans are classified according to their appearance, dryness, color,type, humidity level, roasting process and the quality of the resulting beverage, through special espresso tasting sessions. Over time, it has become the most important nationalaward dedicated to the quality of coffee, as well as a prestigious milestone for illycaffè, because we have always made social, economic and environmental sustainability the cornerstones of our philosophy. Since the award’s inception, over 10,000 producers have participated in the initiative and more than four million reais have been distributed in prize money to coffee growers. In 2008, in tribute to its founder, the competition was renamed the Ernesto Illy Quality Award for Espresso Coffee.
The prize for the most environmentally aware farmerwas introduced in 2001 to reward the hard work of coffee producers who embrace the principles of quality and sustainability, fosteredrural and environmental development in entire regions of Brazil, such as the areas around Piraju the inland areas of the Cerrado and the mountainous regions of the state of Minas Gerais. This honor is now included in other awards which reflect illycaffè’s commitment to sustainability and promoting farming techniques with a low environmental impact.
Illycaffè also awards the Brazilian Supplier of the Year. This loyalty program judges suppliers according to variouscriteria, including punctuality of delivery, compliance with quantity and quality requirements, and how theharvest compares with the original sample.Illycaffè offers the winning suppliers and their families a trip to Italy, which includes a visit to illycaffè headquarters in Trieste.
The awards ceremony of the 25th Ernesto Illy Quality Award for Espresso Coffee was recently held at the CETIP Theatre of the Tomie Othake Institute in SãoPaulo. This year, the award was won by Juliana Tyko Armelin (Fazenda Terra Alta, in the city of Ibià, Minas Gerais). This was the first time the producer participated in the competition and she received 70,000 reais in prize money. The second prize was awarded to Laerte Pelosini Filho from the state of São Paulo, while third place also went to a woman – Leda Terezinha Castellani Pereira Lima of Minas Gerais. A total of 220,000 reais was awarded to farmers (national finalists and regional winners) and to the winners of special prizes.
During this year’s awards ceremony, I announced the creation of the first International Ernesto Illy Award, which every year will proclaim the bestcoffee chosen from among the coffees grown in the regions that make up illy’s unique blend. After 25 years working side-by-side with Brazilian farmers and in view of the excellent results that have been achieved, we want to extend these opportunities to all the growers with whom we work, in the nine countries producing the nine single-origin Arabica beans that make up our blend. This is a natural, global evolution of the award, which willthus progress from being a local initiative to becoming the first truly international award dedicated to the quality of coffee. The first International Ernesto Illy Award will be assigned this coming fall in New York.