Skip to main content

An employee prepares a coffee inside the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery flagship in downtown Milan, Italy, on Sept. 4, 2018.

STEFANO RELLANDINI/Reuters

Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee chain, will realize its chairman’s dream on Friday when it opens an upmarket roastery and café in Milan, but the test will be to convince coffee-obsessed Italians to pay more for their daily espresso.

The store will be the Seattle-based giant’s first foray into the Italian market, the world’s fourth-largest consumer of coffee, and comes 35 years after chairman emeritus Howard Schultz visited the country and was inspired to set up his own café chain.

The venue features a green industrial-scale roaster, marble counters, brass engravings - and a price that could make many Italians reluctant to make it their regular café.

Story continues below advertisement

At €1.80 euros ($2.75) for a simple espresso, Starbucks will charge nearly double what Italians pay at their local bars.

“The price reflects the premium experience we will offer customers,” Starbucks global president of retail, John Culver, said as he showed media through the store, built inside an elegant, century-old palazzo which the company renovated.

“Once they enter the space, our customers will understand exactly what that premium experience is going to be.”

Coffee chains are having to up their game as big money flocks to one of the few fast-growing areas of the drinks market. Coca-Cola agreed to buy Costa, the world’s second-biggest coffee chain, last week, while drinks group JAB snapped up Britain’s Pret A Manger in May.

The entrance of the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery flagship in Milan.

STEFANO RELLANDINI/Reuters

Mr. Schultz has said he was inspired to develop Starbucks, which now spans almost 29,000 stores worldwide, during a 1983 visit to Italy where he was struck by the rapport between baristas and their clients.

As in Seattle and in Shanghai, where Starbucks has opened its other two high-end Roasteries, the Milan store is designed as a playground for coffee drinkers, serving it in more than 100 different ways and showcasing the roasting and brewing process.

The 2,300-square-metre store will also offer cocktails, catering for the Italian evening tradition of aperitivo.

Story continues below advertisement

Starbucks said it would start rolling out regular cafés across Italy this year - a move that will bring it into closer competition with Italy’s more than 57,000 cafés.

No other Western country has as many, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.

“The Starbucks model and the economic sustainability of their stores are built on a price of its flagship products – cappuccino, espresso, frappuccino – which is very far from the average price in the Italian bars,” said Marco Eccheli, Director at consulting firm AlixPartners in Italy.

Pastries displayed at Starbucks's new flagship Milan location.

STEFANO RELLANDINI/Reuters

Starbucks will find it hard to become an everyday choice for Italians, but is likely to attract customers looking for a more complete experience, particularly younger people, he said.

The U.S. group will open four traditional cafes in Milan with its local partner Antonio Percassi by the end of this year.

Federico Castelmare, 55, the barista of one café near the new Starbucks cafe said its higher price would not allow him to charge customers more.

Story continues below advertisement

“I expect my clients to be faithful to me, but tourists will surely go to the roastery.”

Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter