The Italian-based coffee company has announced plans to add around 12 Illy Caffes and shops this year.

The brand already has 20 locations in operations across the US and whilst the company has had a presence in this market since 1980, its market share has remained exceptionally small, too small even to appear in Euromonitor’s rankings for the US coffee market.

Illy Caffe operates as a part of Gruppo Illy SpA and the brand has a 1.7 per cent share of the fragmented retail coffee market in Italy, according to Euromonitor International. The brand operates a number of avenues including selling packaged coffee directly to consumers through retail outlet; selling hot drink in its own branded cafes; and sells to hotels, restaurants and other cafes.

As part of its US expansion plans, Gruppo Illy sold a 20 per cent stake in the Illy Caffe brand to Rhone Capital LLC, a New York based private-equity firm. Illy intends to play to its strengths with their latest expansion in the US. Having carved out a niche as a high-end option for many coffee drinkers across Europe, the brand intends to build brand awareness and change the preferred coffee option from large, sweetened coffees to Illy’s signature small cups of espresso.