“You can’t make an amazing coffee experience in San Francisco without starting with an excellent coffee farm,” says Peter Giuliano, chief research officer for Specialty Coffee Association, a nonprofit, membership-based coffee association. “From processing to roasting, there are all these steps that have to happen perfectly in order for the coffee to be elevated.”

illy, a third-generation family-owned coffee company from Trieste, Italy, only sources Arabica, the highest quality coffee. For the past 30 years, illy has worked directly with local growers to educate them on quality and sustainability.

“Our approach creates this virtuous circle,” says Mark Romano, senior vice president of education, quality and sustainability for illy caffè North America. “By investing in the farmers, the farmers can invest in producing high quality coffee and we keep the investment throughout the supply chain, and in return coffee connoisseurs recognize the value and are willing to pay a higher price for the higher quality product.”

Sustainability

Read coffee labels and you’ll see terms like fair trade and organic but Romano says those certifications don’t differentiate for quality. That’s why illy innovated it’s own Responsible Supply Chain Process Certification which not only accounts for quality, it is comprehensive —  including  social, environmental and economic measurements that are critical to holistic sustainability.

“From processing to roasting, there are all these steps that have to happen perfectly in order for the coffee to be elevated.”

“One hundred percent of the product we bring through our supply chain is audited through our certification protocols,” says Romano, noting the company’s entire supply chain is sustainable.

Education

illy started their University of Coffee in Italy to help foster and spread high quality coffee culture and to provide academic and hands-on training for coffee growers and baristas.

Coffee lovers can learn about coffee and preparing it through illy’s University of Coffee, which hosts taste experiences at illy’s San Francisco flagship store. Learn how to make latte art and how to craft espresso shots and perfectly steamed milk drinks.

Caffeinated tips

Avoid bins of beans. The bins get an oily buildup that can become rancid and stale.

Freshness. Once it’s opened, coffee starts losing its aroma and freshness. Use it within 7-9 days for maximum freshness.

Small batches. At home, grind small batches at every use and seal it up right away. Romano recommends making the coffee within 20-30 minutes of grinding the beans.

Barista chat. Giuliano, a former barista, recommends talking to the barista and asking questions when visiting a café. He says they’re passionate about coffee and love to share their knowledge.