Info: illy coffee is commercially produced and distributed and can be found at a variety of upscale food retailers and fine dining establishments. illy’s signature blend has been around since the company’s founding in 1933. 8.8 oz cans of illy coffee are sold for around $14 and are air sealed to preserve freshness. When I opened the can it most definitely smelled fresh. The beans appear to be roasted at a Full City or Full City+ level, without much oil showing on the beans. The illy blend is “proprietary” and no one really knows for sure what the included varietals are, but it is known for maintaining it’s signature taste. Time to see what my palette thinks.
Nose: Sweet and smokey. The rich sweetness coming from this coffee induces the romantic connotations of coffee in my cranium. Soon afterward the not-so-subtle smokiness reminds me that this is a dark roast, and this coffee has brawn to back up it’s brain. There is also a small brightness that is very hard to place; perhaps a mild apple (Fuji?). A hint of soothing clove-like spice closes out this outstanding aromatic coffee.
Mouth: This coffee is the official “King of Smooth”. Smokey, roasty, (in a positive way) rich velvety goodness soothes my mouth. Towards the end, the coffee backs off and doesn’t leave anything hanging in the balance — the rich flavor presents itself and leaves in a pleasant way with no hanging aftertaste. There are no wild notes that stick out. The spice flavor is present but always fleeting. “Faint clove” would be the best description. This coffee has body too; it’s thick and creamy (for coffee). As soon as I tasted this I was excited to test out the pairing.
Pairing: I chose to pair the coffee with some Mocha Fudge Cake that my girlfriend Lauren graciously prepared (pictured to the right). The cake is served cold and is rich with chocolate flavor. It brings out a chocolate sweetness in the coffee that screams “Late Night Delight!”. When tasted together my palette could only identify a uniform, sweet and smooth entity. The coffee solidifies itself as an after dinner champ. I could see this coffee pairing great with any variety of desserts — strawberry shortcake, chocolate souffle, crème brûlée, tiramisu, etc..
The Big Picture: What really puts a smile on my face is that this coffee presents a positive roasty quality that doesn’t leave traces of ash on my palette. I’m sick of so-called French/Italian roasts that just taste like ashes from a fireplace. Some like to describe them as bold or strong but I think they are a poor example of what superb coffee can be. “illy’s Dark Roast” delivers with the body and richness of a darker roast without selling out to mediocrity. This is definitely my go to late night coffee. While it comes at a somewhat hefty price tag, good coffee is worth it. Even more, it’s wide availability in fresh form is a win for enthusiasts who have trouble finding a good cup of coffee outside of their house. This coffee receives a strong recommendation for those fond of dark roast, rich, or dessert paired blends. To be fair I think most who enjoy coffee would appreciate illy Dark Roast.