There have been rumors about Starbucks in Italy for years, but it finally happened. The very first Italian Starbucks has opened in Milan after extensive preparations.
While I see no need for the chain to expand here, I have to admit that this first Italian Starbucks is beautiful.
Rather than simply a neighborhood coffee shop, the Starbucks in Milan is a roastery where the coffee beans can be processed right in the center of the store.
The first Italian outpost is decidedly higher-end and is a part of the Starbucks Reserve brand rather than a standard Frap counter. It is located inside a former post office on Piazza Cordusio.
Known as the Starbucks Milan Roastery, there is a Scolari roaster front and center than commands attention, but the entire space has been meticulously designed, taking inspiration from Milan’s history of Italian fashion.
The Milan store also has plenty of high-tech touches, including an interactive augmented reality feature that invites customers to use their cell phones throughout the space to learn more about coffee roasting and about Starbucks – including by standing in front of a sculpted brass wall created by local artists.
Starbucks founder Howard Schultz has long said that his coffee empire was really influenced by Italian coffee culture. However, the American coffee chain has not really stayed true to the Italian-style of the beverage.
In spite of this, I think that the first Starbucks in Italy will do just fine. Style-conscious Milanese will surely wander inside and the younger generation will be drawn to the branding and extensive seating. (Italian coffee bars are usually just that – a bar where you drink the coffee quickly while standing. The Milan Starbucks clearly has additional seating for lingering over a coffee-like beverage).
I am curious to see if they have changed the naming of any menu items because most of the US-menus use Italian words incorrectly.
Italy survived McDonald’s and it will survive Starbucks. Will you be visiting?
Honestly, I will still get my fancy Milan coffee at Pasticceria Marchesi.
All photos via Starbucks Partners