Illy brand coffee is regarded as some of the best coffee in the world, and not without good reason. Illy, still a family run business near Trieste, have been producing coffee in Italy since 1933. The name has since become synonymous with quality. These medium roast Arabica beans are indeed a little on the pricey side, but in this case I believe that you do get what you pay for and you will struggle to find a better flavoured coffee bean on the market.
The packaging is fancy (Illy have been selling coffee in tins since the 1950s), as you might expect when you purchase an expensive item, but it actually serves a purpose, as the (patented) packaging process allows air in the can to be replaced by inert gases at above atmospheric pressure, thereby keeping your coffee fresh and full of flavour while it is transported throughout the world; information you may wish to bore your guests with, or not. The lid screws down tightly and securely to keep the beans as fresh as possible once opened.
With a good grinder, and either a stove-top espresso maker or espresso machine (which I find produces the best texture and flavour) the espresso this blend produces is an absolute delight; thick, with a light and substantial `crema' and a smooth, slightly nutty/caramel flavour, strong, but not overly bitter. This is the best I can describe it. I have become completely sold on this, and will now only use this or Lavazza Qualita ORO for my morning espresso. It may be a couple of pounds more expensive than the rest, but it tastes more than a couple of pounds better - that's good value in my book. Treat yourself.