NEWS » Starbucks has opened in Italy

Starbucks has opened in Italy

Starbucks has finally opened in Italy. Is this symbol of American gastronomic imperialism a threat to Italian coffee? No-one can really answer this question but considering that Italy has already Mc Donald’s and Pizza hut, that were considered incompatible with the Mediterranean diet, anything can happen.

The Milan’s Starbucks shop is a huge roastery, the first in Europe after others in Seattle and Shanghai. The shop is located in piazza Cardusio near the Duomo, and is meant as a full “experience”. This means it offers coffee and food and also illustrates Starbucks’s roasting process. 

An espresso costs 1.80 euros, almost double the price of standard Italian coffee shops for a coffee drunk in a gulp at the counter, but much less than the price of a coffee while sitting at the table in the city centre, in an ordinary Italian coffee shop. For this reason, Italy’s consumer association filed a complaint with Italy’s antitrust authority, saying the prices for sitting at the table were far above average for Milan. 

However, the arrival of the chain might make some Italian coffee shops implement changes, such as for example becoming more hospitable and usable as workspace.

Starbucks tried for many years to open a shop in Italy, already in 1998, the New Yorker said a branch of the chain would have opened in Italy the following year. However, it didn’t happen until September 2018. 

Starbucks now has 30,000 stores in 77 countries, including 3,400 stores in China, with 45,000 employees. What is more, the biggest coffee chain in the world isn’t Italian. This is due to the fact that Italian industry is dominated by small and medium sized business with more than 90 percent of Italian companies having fewer than 15 employees.

Now the question is, are Italians going to like Starbucks’ espresso? Probably not, but they seem more curious about the "Starbucks experience" than about the coffee itself. Starbucks Milan is offering 115 different beverages from cold brew to cocktails. Mintel's research, which estimates the Italian coffee market was worth €19.4bn (£17.4bn) last year, suggests 16-to-35-year-olds are open to American coffee-style concepts such as flavoured Frappuccino's and cold brew, which are less common in Italy, but unfortunately Frappucinos won't be on the menu there. The menu is simpler and more geared towards Italian coffee tastes. There are also on offer artisanal cocktails and baked goods from the local baker Rocco Princi.

Italian-owned brands Lavazza and Illy have both opened coffee shops not far from Starbucks' new outlet. Federazione Italiana Pubblici Esercizi (FIPE) said that Italian coffee bars were not afraid of comparison. On the contrary, competition will be a stimulus to improve quality and service.

Additional branches of Starbucks are planned to open in Italy.

Milan correspondent

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