In the home of the espresso, with humility and respect.
The US-based, international coffee-shop chain has chosen central Milan for the launch of its fearless foray into the Italian coffee market in September this year, reports the UK daily The Guardian.
Rumours of a launch have been circulating for well over a year, sparking cries of horror from aficionados of espresso and caffelatte, but words of welcome from more fashionable Italians and expat residents alike. And where better to test the temperature than in Italy’s capital of fashion and up-to-date lifestyle.
While reports and denials leapfrogged throughout 2017, with Milan, Rome and Bologna being mooted as the launch platform, the chain’s executive chairman, Howard Schultz (pictured), scotched hearsay in Milan this week, saying that his vision for Starbucks came after a trip to Milan in 1983, according to media reports.
Quoted in The Guardian, Schultz said: “I came to Milan as a young man in 1983 ... my imagination was captured by Italian coffee. We are not coming here to teach Italians how to make coffee; we are coming here with humility and respect, to show what we have learned.”
The first Italian Starbucks will be situated in the historic post-office building overlooking Piazza Cordusio in central Milan, a stone’s throw from the Duomo, and will be one of the company’s more high-end establishments, revealed the article.
According to the British daily, Starbucks will have a battle on its hands to make sure its arrival in Italy doesn’t leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Italian coffee lovers, millions of whom start their day and bookend their meals with an espresso. The Italian catering industry group Fipe says that bars in Italy serve 6bn espressi every year, generating a turnover of €6.6bn.
But Starbucks, which Schultz built up from just 11 stores in 1987 to a coffeehouse giant that has some 29,000 stores worldwide and serves 100 million customers each week, reckon they have enough experience to tackle Italian prejudice. Even if only for expats and tourists.
One wonders how tourists will react when they are served the “latte” they ordered…