“United chose illy as our global coffee partner because they represent the gold standard of premium coffee and they share our commitment to creating an elevated, distinctive experience for our customers,” said Jimmy Samartzis, United’s vice president of Food Services and United Clubs.
“We acted on customer feedback and are delivering a product our employees are proud to serve, while bringing excellence and passion to every one of the 72 million cups of coffee we serve inflight every year.”
The company, known for its commitment to sustainability, was also selected as a partner because it reflects United’s global network and commitment to creating an elevated, distinctive premium experience for its customers. Illy purchases only from the top one percent of Arabica beans grown directly from growers in Brazil, Central America, India and Africa to create the distinct flavor of illy’s unique blend. Its supply chain is certified sustainable ensuring social and economic development for the growers and the best coffee quality for customers and coffee lovers around the world.
“Over the past several months, we experienced an overwhelmingly positive response from United’s customers and employees that illy is coming onboard. We are very proud to be the coffee that millions of customers enjoy in United Clubs and now on all flights,” said Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffe s.p.a. “The illy brand is known around the world for its unparalleled quality and nearly 85 years of expertise in science and innovation, which positions us well to meet the needs of United.”
To understand what makes a truly great coffee experience, United deployed its team of food and beverage experts and engaged employees in both the airport and in flight. While in flight, employees and customers tasted several brands and blends and provided their feedback. View more about United’s coffee selection process.
Illy’s Research and Development spent months testing many parameters for brewing and serving coffee in flight, ranging from different roasts to grind size, in order to achieve the highest quality cup of coffee when brewed and served at 35,000 feet. The team recommended a darker roast bean to ensure a bold flavor with noticeable chocolate notes. After testing the blend with customers, they most frequently selected illy’s dark roast as the best taste.