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Omnivore - Illy takes on Starbucks

Atlanta's Cafe Nineteen joins the coffee company's new marketing plan

Illy, maker of what many regard as the world's best coffee, is going after the Starbucks crowd, according to the Wall Street Journal:

For more than 20 years the closely held company, based in Trieste, Italy, has sold its coffee in high-end grocers such as Whole Foods and in coffee shops, hotels and restaurants in the U.S. Now it's expanding its reach by signing contracts with cafes in the U.S. that agree to serve Illy exclusively and allow Illy a hand in quality control.

There are only 28 such stores in the US now and one of them is our own Cafe Nineteen in the Westside:

Cafe Nineteen in Atlanta, which closed temporarily last year, reopened in June, having added an outdoor patio with red Illy umbrellas. Owner Sean Lupton-Smith said he began serving Illy coffee "so we could offer a consistent experience to our customers and be strong enough to stand up to the Starbucks around the corner."

A 12-ounce Illy drip coffee in a white ceramic cup with the red Illy logo sells for $3 instead of $1.60 for his previously no-name cups of joe. Coffee sales have tripled to $750 a day. "We're open until 2 a.m. and believe it or not, we sell coffee at midnight," Mr. Lupton-Smith says.

Personally, I prefer Lavazza over Illy, and I mean the taste — not just the lower price.