Illy vs. Starbucks: what brand is better?

Though starting the day with a caffeine buzz can help you stay more alert, some coffee lovers in certain regions struggle to identify the best coffee store. I remember the first time I visited Italy a few years back.

Since I was used to Starbucks in my country, I was so disappointed to learn this coffee chain was not easy to find in the country. That is how I discovered Illy. I created this post to help you learn which brand between Illy and Starbucks is better. By the end of it, you will also learn how they differ. Enjoy!

What are the differences between Illy Vs. Starbucks?





Nice ambiance. The stores have captivating elements and are quite interactive.

Starbucks aims to be the third place after home and the office. The ambiance is therefore welcoming.


269 stores in 31 countries

Over 31,000 stores in over 80 countries


Coffee flavored energy drinks and espresso

Coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, and baked goods.

Price Range

Affordable items

Expensive items

Beverage sizes

8.45 fl oz and 4 ounce espresso cups

8, 12, 16, 20 and 30 fl oz.

Environmental consciousness

Minimizes water usage. Synthetic product usage and waste water reduction

Minimizes waste by offering reusable cups, banning plastic straws, and recycling paper

Illy Vs. Starbucks – How they compare.

Illy vs. Starbucks brand


Both coffeehouses offer a warm coffee shop atmosphere that customers can enjoy. Whether you choose Illy or Starbucks, you can spend as much time as you please at either of the companies. Their shops are welcoming and encourage interaction.

Starbucks and Illy, therefore, draw since they both have a great ambience.


Starbucks has over 31,000 stores in more than 80 countries. Illy has existed for longer than Starbucks, but it has 269 stores in 31 countries.

Starbucks, therefore, wins since it has more stores in numerous countries.


Illy specializes in selling espresso drinks. It also partnered with the Coca-Cola company to sell coffee-flavored energy drinks. The company’s menu is simple and short. Starbucks has numerous drinks that you may not be able to exhaust. It sells coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, energy drinks, and baked goods.

Starbucks wins since it has a more comprehensive menu than Illy.

Price Range

Compared to Starbucks, Illy is a bit cheaper. For instance, a cup of espresso from Illy costs around $2, while a cappuccino or latte costs $3. On the other hand, most Starbucks drinks are expensive. For instance, a pumpkin spice latte costs between $4.95 and $5.25.

Illy wins in this category since it is more affordable than Starbucks.

Beverage Sizes

Illy sells its energy drinks in one cup size, namely the 8.45 fl oz cups. It also sells its espresso in small cups that can hold about 4 ounces of the drink. On the other hand, Starbucks offers numerous cup sizes to pick from, such as 8 fl oz, 12 fl oz, 16 fl oz, 20 fl oz, and 30 fl oz.

Starbucks, therefore, wins since it offers more beverage sizes.

Environmental Consciousness

Starbucks is keen on implementing different environmental practices such as recycling, banning the use of single-use straws, and offering reusable cups to minimize waste. Illy is also committed to minimizing waste, water usage, and minimizing the use of synthetic products.

Both Starbucks and Illy draw since they are both environmentally friendly.

Illy Vs. Starbucks – A Comparison Overview

Illy Overview

Illy vs. Starbucks

Francesco Illy established Illy in Italy in 1933 as a coffee roasting company. Since it was established, this company has been producing high-quality coffee made from 100% Arabica beans. By 1957, the manufacturer’s son came up with its first research lab.

By 1939, Illy had expanded to Switzerland and later started opening stores in the Netherlands. The main headquarters of this coffee company is in Trieste. Illy now has 269 stores in 34 countries. It specializes in espresso but also offers coffee in three types of roasts: decaf, dark roast, and regular.

Today, Andrea Illy acts as the chairman, and Massimiliano Pogliani the CEO of this country.

This company has been marketing its drinks in red cans. Though this coffee chain is not available everywhere, you can find it in some streets in Italy, airports, and museums. This coffee company has been collaborating with popular artists that have been making unique artwork for its cups.

Starbucks Overview

Illy vs. Starbucks: what brand is better?

Starbucks was founded by Gordon Bowker, Zev Siegl, and Jerry Baldwin in 1971. Since it was established, this company changed the perspective of coffee in America. Howard Schulz, who became the company director in 1983, played a big role in this. This was after he visited Italy and learned about the espresso bars’ culture.

When he went back to Washington, he shared what he had learned with the Starbucks partners, and together they started implementing changes to Starbucks. By the late 1980s, Starbucks had opened numerous stores in regions like Canada and Chicago. Starbucks has been consistent over the years and is famous for its high-quality coffee.

Today it has over 31,000 stores in over 80 countries. Starbucks specializes in offering specialty drinks. It offers coffee, tea, smoothies, refreshers, and even baked products. Today, Howard Schultz is still the CEO of this coffee company. Did you know that Starbucks offers a college achievement plan for its employees? This plan allows staff members to get a degree paid for by the company.

Final Verdict: So, Which is Better? – Illy Vs. Starbucks

Starbucks is better than Illy. It has a wider coverage, offers a more comprehensive menu, and has more beverage sizes. However, Illy also puts up a good fight in this competition since it still offers a good ambience and high-quality coffee, such as Starbucks. It also takes different measures to protect the environment like its competitor. Though Illy can help you save money since it has cheaper drinks, it is not always available everywhere. If you are a fan of specialty drinks and like experimenting, you may find Illy a bit disappointing. I, therefore, choose Starbucks as the clear winner.


Is Illy’s coffee stronger than Starbucks?

No. Since both Illy and Starbucks use arabica coffee beans to make their drinks, Illy coffee is not stronger than Starbucks. They both have strong drinks.

Is there a big difference between Illy’s and Starbucks?

Yes. The two differ in terms of price, beverage sizes, menu, and stores.

Is Illy’s more popular than Starbucks?

No. Starbucks is more popular since it is available in more regions than Illy.

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