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Dr. Ernesto Illy Passes On
Dr. Ernesto Illy Passes On
Posted February 4, 2008 2:50pm
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A cup of illy espresso

I woke up this morning to some very sad news. Dr. Ernesto Illy, one of the true pioneers in the world of espresso and coffee, has passed away.

Dr. Illy was the second (of three) generations to run the Illy company, and like his father before him, he had a deep love for the beverage and the science behind it all. The original Illy is known for founding the company and experimenting with hydraulic systems in the 1930s to move espresso beyond the steam produced beverage it was at the time.

The current Illy generation running the company is headed by Dr. Andrea Illy, who's love for art and culture sometimes surpass a pursuit of pure science in the beverage. There's nothing wrong with that, but Dr. Ernesto Illy's analytical and scientific approach to the beverage has never been replicated.

Much of what I know about the "science" of espresso can be traced back to Dr. Ernesto Illy's work in this field. I've devoured just about everything he's written, done, funded, or encouraged in the science of espresso. The groundbreaking book, Espresso, the Chemistry of Quality started out life as Andrea Illy's thesis paper, but a long told rumour on the "espresso street" was that, like many term papers, the father helped the son out a bit in the writing.

There's no doubt in my mind that Dr. Ernesto Illy was a true pioneer in the advancement of espresso science, quality and culture. We owe a lot to the man about our advancing understanding of the beverage to this day.

For that, I spent some time this morning working with, and pulling the "perfect" shot of espresso from a relatively fresh can of Illy whole bean coffee. I needed to do the man honour and justice.

I took a sip, and then poured the rest into the earth so that Dr. Illy could share one last shot with me. Your contributions to the world of coffee are dearly appreciated Dr. Illy, and you will be missed. My deepest sympathies to your family and friends.

Cin cin, e salute!

Sharing a last shot with Dr. Illy

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