For as long as I can remember drinking espresso, I have known the brand Illy. It always seemed the chic coffee, with its splashy, sassy red logo marked on ceramic demitasses and coffee cups. It’s become one of the brands I’ve grown up with from the States to China! While I trot through life caffeniating myself with a cup of perkiness, it’s amusing to watch one my favourite brands enter the China market. Illy didn’t just show up on the Beijing scene. It’s been here for a while. However, its most recent arrival of Galleria Illy in Parkview Green certainly makes its mark with a touch of splendour and artistic flair.

Parkview Green’s shopping centre is dressed in art featuring the works of Salvador Dali. Galleria Illy is a dynamic temporary installation expressing Illy’s philosophy, embracing art, design, sustainability, while integrating culture.

Mounted upon the walls were beautiful photos of coffee harvests in Yunnan. Illy cafe’s Monoarabica coffee is solely from Yunnan.

After opening remarks from CEO and president Andreas Illy, guests crowded about the counters at Espressamente Café. I didn’t have a chance to try what appeared to be a large raft of tiramisu kissed with cream and dusted with cocoa powder.

Robust croissants and pain au chocolats, tiered cakes, fruit tarts, and other sweets shielded by curved insulated glass were all too tempting to shy away from, but alas there were too many people to squeeze through – future visits will have to compensate for missed sweet opportunities.

In front of the cafe hung a chandelier adorned with signature Illy ceramic coffee cups, each designed by different artist.

The grande finale brought everyone to the nave of Parkview Green, where Mr. Illy expressed Illy’s brand culture and shared values within Beijing before unveiling the larger-than-life signature Illy cup chandelier showcasing 66 coffee cups chosen among 300 designed over 20 years by selected contemporary artists. This grand chandelier is meant to express Illy’s value towards art and culture.

Every VIP guest went home with a piece of history ‘happiness’. Goody bags contained a can of Monorabica, a blend including coffee beans from Yunnan.

This year’s Illy signature coffee cup was designed by Liu Wei. It will be added to the chandelier next year.

While Galleria Illy is hosted around the world in a different city, sharing its values of great coffee, passion for art and culture, Beijing could not have been a better spot to make its mark. With each year spent in Beijing, I continue to enjoy the flourishing of culture exchange. Beijing is great city to explore ones passions and pioneer new movements. Illy struck upon this notion with a great hunch and just in time.

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