Star­bucks fi­nally opens cafe in Italy, home of espresso

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Flavours -

US COF­FEE gi­ant Star­bucks opens its first branch in Italy, with the sprawl­ing Mi­lan ‘roast­ery’ at the avant garde of an am­bi­tious plan to con­quer the spir­i­tual home of espresso. The Seat­tle-based multi­na­tional is tak­ing on a main­stay of Ital­ian cul­ture: a thick thim­ble­ful of pow­er­ful black liq­uid served at the bar in cafés through­out the coun­try, six bil­lion times a year, ac­cord­ing to Ital­ian ca­ter­ing fed­er­a­tion FIPE. Not sur­pris­ing then that Star­bucks, which is well-es­tab­lished else­where in Europe, has al­ready de­layed its en­try into the Ital­ian mar­ket, orig­i­nally planned for early 2017.

Out­spo­ken for­mer CEO Howard Schultz has re­peat­edly said that the com­pany would come to Italy with “hu­mil­ity”. “Dur­ing my first trip to Mi­lan in 1983, I was cap­ti­vated by the sense of com­mu­nity I found in the city’s espresso bars - the mo­ments of hu­man con­nec­tion that passed so freely and gen­uinely be­tween baris­tas and their cus­tomers,” said Schultz, now chair­man emer­i­tus af­ter mas­ter­mind­ing Star­bucks world­wide ex­pan­sion. The com­pany hopes that its 2,300-square-me­tre (25,000 square foot) Re­serve Roast­ery – “the most beau­ti­ful Star­bucks in the world” – will en­tice cus­tomers in for a new cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mat­teo Figura of mar­ket re­searchers NPD Group said that Star­bucks is en­ter­ing the Ital­ian mar­ket at the right mo­ment. “At the mo­ment, chains ac­count for only 20 per cent of Italy’s ca­ter­ing trade, the rest are in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses. But chains are ex­pand­ing rapidly, more than four per­cent” a year, he told AFP. The way that Ital­ians con­sume cof­fee has also changed a lot in re­cent years. While pre­vi­ously an espresso was “an op­por­tu­nity to have an en­ergy ‘shot’” con­sumers to­day in­creas­ingly care more about qual­ity and the ex­pe­ri­ence they can have.”

Star­bucks will pri­mar­ily tar­get Mil­lenials be­tween 18 and 34 years old, said Figura, adding that the Ital­ian mar­ket has room for both tra­di­tional cafés and Star­bucks, as they tar­get dif­fer­ent con­sumers. “Crack­ing the home of cof­fee cul­ture is a tough chal­lenge, with many Ital­ians de­rid­ing the move as ridicu­lous,” said Alexan­dre Loeur, an­a­lyst at Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional. “Crack­ing the home of cof­fee cul­ture is a tough chal­lenge, with many Ital­ians de­rid­ing the move as ridicu­lous,” said Alexan­dre Loeur, an­a­lyst at Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional.

But “while snob­bery might ini­tially pre­vail, the younger gen­er­a­tions are more open to the type of spe­cially cof­fee of­fered by the Seat­tle based brand,” he said. “If we look at France, another coun­try with a strong cof­fee cul­ture, mil­len­nial con­sumers are un­doubt­edly re­spond­ing well to spe­cial­ity cof­fees. We can there­fore in­fer that Star­bucks could do well (in Italy), in the medium to long-term.” “It re­mains to be seen if they’ll get a foothold in Italy,” said Alessan­dro Pan­zarino, who runs the Cafe Mar­tini, around the cor­ner from the new Star­bucks.

He ad­mits to be­ing a lit­tle fear­ful “of this colos­sus” and ex­pects there to be an ini­tial boom in trade at his new neigh­bour. “Then we have to see if peo­ple get bored af­ter a while,” he said. – AFP

– AFP photo

Star­bucks has just opened its first branch in Italy, with the sprawl­ing Mi­lan ‘roast­ery’ at the avant garde of an am­bi­tious plan to con­quer the spir­i­tual home of espresso.

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