The Illy brand of pod coffee machines is an Italian firm that has become, over the years, and quite rightly so, an absolute reference in the world of coffee machines and, in particular single-dose coffee pods. Founded by Francesco Illy in 1933, the company is still in the hands of the Illy family – now in its third generation.
This company is known above all for the production of espresso coffee, which, both in pods and in its traditional version (ground coffee), enjoys great prestige throughout the world. They market it in all the formats consumed in Europe: coffee beans, ground coffee, hard capsules (with their own Iperespresso system, exclusive to their machines) and ESE single-dose. So there is no excuse not to enjoy the famous Illy coffee whatever machine you have at home.
The great quality of Illy coffee in pods has been well used by its managers, accompanying the marketing of the coffee with a wide range of top-of-the-range coffee machines, not only in the domestic sector. Illy professional coffee machines and Illy coffee machines for the hotel and catering industry are known all over the world.
All Illy coffee makers are manufactured by the Francis Francis company (which, moreover, is also owned by Illy) and also have a number of similarities and points in common, which we will analyse below before looking in detail at the characteristics of each model.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find these same coffee machines in shops and in catalogues, named after their brand (for example, the Illy X1 model) or the manufacturer (Francis Francis X1).
Illy Coffee machines offers: Prices
We can consider Illy coffee machines as a slightly higher range than the industry average, and therefore their price also increases accordingly. The price of an Illy pod coffee maker ranges from just over £100 for the Illy Y3, its most affordable model, to £150-170 for an Illy X7 or the revolutionary Illy Y1.
Apart from this, the Illy X1 series coffee makers (in their three versions, which we will get to know later) are even on a higher price scale, between £300 and £600 depending on the features we choose. No, there is definitely no such thing as a cheap Illy coffee machine unless you buy a second hand Illy coffee machine.
Illy Coffee Makers: Common Features
Illy, coffee machines differ from all other pod coffee machine brands precisely in the most important aspect: the capsules. Illy has developed and patented an exclusive capsule coffee dispensing system called Iperespresso. The Illy Iperespresso system differs from traditional hard capsules in that the injection and spraying of water take place in two stages.
Firstly, the water is injected into the pod and left there for a few seconds to rest along with the coffee. During this time, the small ground coffee beans are soaked completely.
The mixed water then flows out to the outside to joyfully join the bottom of your cup or glass in the form of freshly brewed coffee. In traditional pods, the water flows in and out of the pod in one movement so that the liquid passes through the tiny ground coffee beans instead of soaking in them. The result is noticeably different and will be appreciated above all by the most demanding coffee drinkers.
The Illy line of coffee pods is discussed in more detail on the page we wrote at the time for our single-dose section.
Secondly, Illy coffee machines can be clearly distinguished from other brands of pod coffee machines (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, Senseo, etc.) by their designs. Illy pays a lot of attention to the external appearance of its coffee machines, and thus all coffee machines are compact, elegant and stylish.
You will not find conventional designs on them. All Illy Francis coffee machine designs are distinguished by some features, and all of them have a first-class finish, are very careful to the smallest detail and with top quality details.
For example, the Y3 is the narrowest coffee machine on the market, the Y5 is compact to the extreme, and the Y1 features an unconventional layout of the machine’s elements, with a large horizontal platform as a shelf to house the cup heater and operating controls, and inside to accommodate the water tank and used capsule compartment.
All Illy single-dose coffee machines have, among other features, 19 bar pressure, automatic decalcification system, ejection of used pods, and an energy-saving or automatic shut-off system.
Comparison of Illy coffee machines: Differences
All Illy coffee machines have distinctive features that characterize them, and surely before buying an Illy coffee machine, you will be interested in knowing exactly which models are available and how they differ from each other. There are basically two lines of Illy coffee machines that differ mainly in design:
- Illy pod coffee machines line Y (Y1, Y3, Y5)
- Illy coffee machines line X (X1, X7 and X9)
The Y line, with designs based on square modules and straight lines, and the X line, with a peculiar retro-futurist look that is less functional but much more attractive.
The “Y” line coffee makers do not include a milk frother access, but the X line does.
We will start by talking about the Illy Y3, an Illy pod coffee maker that we could classify as the most basic (to use the expression) or most economical model of the firm, and whose main distinctive feature is its vertical design. It is, with the meter in hand, the narrowest pod coffee maker in the market, and you can find it in several very original colours!
The best option if you want to buy the cheapest Illy coffee maker.
The Y5, on the other hand, has a design based on horizontal lines where an innovative platform is used as a cup warmer and as a container for the water tank (which is removed from the side of the coffee machine) and for the used pod compartment. The control panel is fully touch-sensitive.
It is the only Illy coffee machine that, in addition to the Iperespresso capsules, allows the use of an additional milk tank (in its Illy Y5 Milk version) to store fresh milk and make cappuccinos, lattes or other mixed drinks from it.
The Illy Y1 is a standard model with a somewhat more conventional design in its layout, with a more grid-like appearance. It is a very compact coffee machine, with a very careful finish and first quality details. The performance is excellent, like all the other models in the Illy range.
The X7 has a spectacular design with rounded lines, halfway between retro and futuristic design, and with a much wider and brighter range of colours (red, violet, green, yellow) than the “Y” line coffee machines. Spectacular and affordable.
The Illy X1 is the crown jewel of the Illy coffee machines. It is a coffee maker with three different versions, which differ in the type of coffee they support.
- Illy X1 Iperespresso
- Illy X1 Trio ESE
- Illy X1 Ground
The first version of the X1 is the most basic and economic and only works with the exclusive Illy (Iperespresso) capsule system.
The second, called Trio or Trio ESE, also allows the use of single-dose ESE pods and gives us the possibility of choosing the size of the espresso: ristretto, normal or long.
Finally, the Ground version, as its name suggests, adds to these options the possibility of using your Illy coffee machine with ground coffee in the filter, as if it were an espresso machine.
Naturally, the Illy X1 Ground is the most expensive of all the machines of this model.
This Illy X1 is the top of the range of the Illy brand and retains the impressive retro design of the Illy X7. If the X7 doesn’t taste like much, or you’re looking for an Illy coffee machine without capsules, this X1 is the one. Please take a look at its analysis because it really leaves you with your mouth open.
The X9 is the newest model in the entire Illy range. It was launched on the European market in 2015 and is a real eye-catcher with its completely cylindrical design and chrome finish.
The Illy X9 is a machine that allows us to program up to two volumes of coffee: the short and the long one (i.e. how big we want the long coffee to be and how we want the short espresso to be). It also includes some functions which we did not find in the first models of Illy pod coffee machines, especially in the Y line, which were the most basic.
We would say that it is halfway between Illy’s most basic models (already very obsolete) and the most advanced ones (sometimes too expensive for the general public).
This is a quick summary of the main features of the Illy X9 coffee maker:
- Automatic stop of coffee extraction (no need to wait to turn off the machine).
- Automatic ejection of the pods once used (the container for this purpose can hold up to 10 single-dose pods).
- LED illumination of the cup while coffee is being served.
- 0.7-litre capacity.
- Aluminium body with chrome finish.
- Cable: 1.5 metres long.
- Dimensions: 27 x 12 x 26 cm.