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YVR offers a cuppa Joe with an authentic Italian flair

By Lorraine Graves

Published 3:25 PDT, Thu August 1, 2019

Last Updated: 2:43 PDT, Fri August 2, 2019

With Vancouver International Airport workers, dignitaries and travellers gathered inside the international departures area, illycaffée opened today.

With Vancouver International Airport workers, dignitaries and travellers gathered inside the international departures area, illycaffée opened today.

As the assembled group sipped and nibbled their way through samples of the bistro offerings, YVR’s quiet acoustics allowed for gentle live vocals in the background. The music added to the tasteful ambiance as we waited for the official opening ceremonies to begin at the first full-service illycaffé at a Canadain airport.  

The one big surprise was the taste of the coffee. Even a decaf had the vibrant flavour you’d expect to find in a European coffee house.

In fact, illycaffé’s North American president Barry Sheldon says they use a special carbon dioxide process to decaffeinate their beans.

 “It’s a natural process that retains the coffee flavour,” he explains.

The founder of the company in Trieste, Italy, Ernesto Illy and his son Andrea, after whom this three-generation family firm was named, were food chemists. They used science to ensure quality control. And on the farms, the firm still employs field agronomists to ensure the crops are highest quality and most sustainably grown. Having received awards and certification for their 100 per cent sustainable coffee production, illy works with farmers to increase the quality of their yield and thus their farm’s income.

Scott Norris, YVR’s vice-president for commercial development, said, “I love my coffee. This caffé is raising the standard of food and drink at the airport.”

Calling Vancouver a gateway city with an arts community equal to Paris and Berlin, Sheldon said YVR’s latest retail addition offers “the authentic and modern illycaffé experience.”

Like a step inside a modern Italian shop, the establishment is bright and airy with sassy posters. It offers coffee, packaged meals, snacks and wine as well as a host of other useful items for travellers.

The shop, offered in partnership with Paradies Lagardere (a North American travel retail and restaurant leader), Norris said it was a conscious choice to place this shop within the international departures area.

Norris said Canadians represent a diverse and cosmopolitan group. When added to the variety of cultures passing through YVR while waiting for their flights, the airport is the perfect place for this coffee.

“It’s what you get in Vancouver so why not at the airport?”

This is just the beginning of a whole new phase at our local airport.

“We can’t wait for our passengers to enjoy illycaffé and the rest of our enhanced food, beverage and retail program which will be introduced over the next two years,” said Norris.

Commonly called just YVR, the Vancouver International Airport Authority is a community-based, not-for-profit organization.

Norris said, “We can reinvest our profits back into the airport and region. This model is something to be proud of—something worth protecting.”

So, the good news—illy’s coffee tastes sublime. The sad news is you’ll have to be travelling somewhere beyond North American to get to sample the wares at the world’s first fully-fledged illycaffé in an airport. If you do get to international departures at YVR, be sure to leave time for a fine, authentic cup of Italian coffee. Your taste buds will thank you.

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