Sustainability, certification and preparation techniques among hot topics at inaugural event at The International Culinary Center in New York City

NEW YORK, NY, October 29 /PRNewswire/ — What happens when you put today’s true coffee innovators and legendary roasters together with leaders from hospitality, cuisine and equipment: entrepreneurs, executives and experts with strong opinions, and the knowledge and experience to back it up?

You get The Great Coffee Debate: a first-of-its-kind, frank, often surprising conversation about premium coffee’s present and future, held October 28 at The International Culinary Center in New York City, hosted by illycaffè, the premier Italian coffee brand and The International Culinary Center.

Debate topics spanned farm to cup: growing and harvesting; purchasing and certification models; roasting and packaging dynamics; preparation methods; coffee at cafes and restaurants; consumer education.

Three hours of spirited discussion found broad agreement on how direct purchasing relationships among growers and roasters are the best path to increasing growers’ profits, and on a renewed interest in brewed coffee, as equipment and consumer understanding continue to improve.

And there were healthy differences. Intelligentsia’s Doug Zell pledged strong allegiance to single origin coffee, citing the unexpected pleasure they deliver, while illy’s Andrea Illy touted the consistently high quality that blends can provide. Packaging methods and approaches to food at coffee bars were among other flash points, with Blue Bottle Coffee’s James Freeman coining a phrase for standard coffeehouse offerings: Perfunctory Bran Muffin, or PBM for short.

Dorothy Cann Hamilton, The International Culinary Center Founder and CEO, and Andrea Illy, illycaffè’s Chairman, co-hosted. Corby Kummer, Senior Editor, Atlantic Monthly, and Editor, The Atlantic Food Channel, moderated. Panelists included:

  • Richard Coraine, Senior Managing Partner, Union Square Hospitality Group
  • James Freeman, Founder and Owner, Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Andrea Illy, Chairman, illycaffè S.p.A.
  • Wolfgang Lindlbauer, Senior Vice President, Food & Beverage Design & Development, Marriott International, Inc.
  • Karalynn M. McDermott, Vice President, Bunn-O-Matic
  • Jonathan Rubinstein, Owner, Joe The Art of Coffee
  • Donald Schoenholt, President, Gillies Coffee Co.
  • Guenter Seeger, chef and restaurateur
  • Doug Zell, CEO, Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Inc.

“For the sake of our industry’s health and growth, we need more discussions like today’s – candid and open, about the critical issues and opportunities before us,” said Illy. “My deepest thanks go out to my exceptionally talented and expert co-panelists, and to our moderator, Corby Kummer. Each contributed such generous thought and time to today’s program. Quite literally, this idea couldn’t have become reality without them.”

About illycaffè

Illycaffè makes the world’s finest Italian coffee, and is a leader in quality, innovation, and technology. A third generation company based in Trieste, Italy, illy produces and markets a unique, single blend of coffee from nine distinct Arabica beans sourced on four continents, delivering to people passionate about coffee an authentic Italian coffee experience of the highest quality. Illy is available in more than 50,000 of the finest restaurants and coffee bars, in more than 140 countries, where more than six million cups of illy coffee are served every day.

Illy buys the highest quality Arabica directly from growers, through partnerships based on the mutual creation of value. The company fosters long-term collaborations with the world’s finest coffee growers – in Brazil, Central America, India and Africa – providing know-how and technology, and offering above-market prices.


Located in the heart of New York City’s culinary scene, The International Culinary Center is home to the legendary French Culinary Institute and Italian Culinary Academy. Its schools offer a wide variety of intensive courses designed for cooks and food enthusiasts of all skill levels: from those already in the business and those aspiring to be, to the serious amateur. Its state-of-the-art kitchens, classrooms and culinary theater house courses of all lengths in classic culinary arts, pastry arts, Italian studies, bread baking, culinary technology, wine studies, food writing and restaurant management. More than just a world-class culinary facility, The International Culinary Center is the place where the top talent in every culinary discipline from around the globe frequently visit to hone, discuss, and teach their craft to the next generation of elite chefs, food professionals and consumers. For more information, please visit www.InternationalCulinaryCenter.com.

Media Contact:

Annie Taplin
Middleberg Communications for illy