Starbucks to Open in Italy

Starbucks approda in Italia. L’ormai iconica catena statunitense di caffetterie, luogo di ritrovo per i giovani, soprattutto se studenti o abitanti nelle grandi metropoli americane, ha aperto il primo punto vendita nel 1971 a Seattle su iniziativa di tre amici incontratisi ai tempi degli studi all’Università di San Francisco. La svolta arrivò da un'idea di Howard Schultz: durante un viaggio a Milano nel 1983, lo storico amministratore delegato, riconosciuto ormai come il vero fondatore del marchio, sviluppò il suo progetto di portare in America l'autenticità della caffetteria italiana e i suoi segreti, usando le migliori qualità di caffè nel mondo. Dopo aver aperto oltre 20.000 negozi in tutto il mondo, Starbuck ha annunciato l'apertura nel 2017 del primo Starbucks Italiano a Milano.

As early as the 1500s, coffee has been a major part of the Italian culture. In fact, the Italian day is defined by coffee rituals: a cappuccino with breakfast, a caffe macchiato as an afternoon pick-me-up and espresso after dinner. Italians rarely grab the to-go cup opting, instead, to enjoy their ritualistic beverage at the bar in their favorite coffee shop – much unlike the American coffee routine of hitting the drive-thru or impatiently waiting in line for our extra-large (ahem, Venti) to-go coffee which we consume on the run to our next undertaking of the day. So, when Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, announced in February that the famous American coffee chain would make its debut in Italy in early 2017, it must have caused reactions of furrowed brows, cocked heads and many “eh?” responses from Italians.
After all, Italians are connoisseurs of coffee. And, it’s impossible not to pass a coffee bar/shop/café when strolling through any Italian city. To call Italians “passionate” about coffee is certainly an understatement; which is why Schultz and his American coffee team are entering the Italian market “with humility and respect.” In fact it was while visiting Milan for the first time in 1983 as marketing director for Starbucks that Schultz dreamed up the idea of taking the then whole-bean-directly-to-consumers-selling brand to another level. “The Italians had created the theater, romance, art and magic of experiencing espresso,” Schultz recalled. “I was overwhelmed with a gut instinct that this is what we should be doing.” And so he did.

Starbucks is now recognized in over 23,000 retail stores in 72 countries. And, very soon, 73 countries. Schultz is well aware of the unique situation he is about to enter. He’s visited Italy every year since that first trip. Partnering with Percassi – a well-respected and prominent Italian company with a proven track record for operating major brand partnerships across Italy, Schultz assures that the history and culture of Italian coffee will be upheld in the new Starbucks location.

"We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy, the country of coffee, and we are confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets," said Antonio Percassi, President of the company Percassi. The partners will carry on the tradition of coffee theatre and artistry combined with Starbucks’ well-known exceptional service. Schultz assures that the first Starbucks location in Milan, Italy will honor the Italian people and their coffee culture. Advocates of the new venture say the curiosity of the flavor comparison will tempt Italians into trying it. Also, the access to free Wi-Fi will drive the younger generation to the American-born coffee house. Schultz considers this venture “a dream 33 years in the making.” “Everything we’ve done to date sits on the foundation of wonderful experiences that many of us have had in Italy,” he said.