Starbucks has finally landed in Italy with a 2,300 square metre flagship store. The new coffee-shop, located in a historical palazzo near Milan’s main square, is the biggest in Europe and the third biggest in the world after Shanghai and Seattle.
Before the grand opening, the Seattle-based company said that Italy’s first store is “the most beautiful Starbucks in the world,” as it’s located “where coffee was born.”
When Howard Shultz founded the US coffee giant in the 1980s, he actually took inspiration from the Italian ritual of drinking coffee and its ability to create a sense of community but it took him a long time to materialize its presence in the sacred temple of espresso.
Since the company first announced that it would open a flagship in Milan almost four years ago, skeptics have been questioning its ability to succeed and survive in Italy, where a coffee costs on average one euro in any cafeteria, restaurant and, where people traditionally enjoy drinking it, at every bar's counter. However, Milan’s store is different from your ordinary neighborhood Starbucks, both for its charming location, a former post office in the beautiful Piazza Cordusio, and because it offers more than muffins and Frappuccinos.
Starbucks’ intention is to “bring a premium experience that’s different from what people in Italy are used to ... including different brewing techniques, and a space to stay longer, relax and enjoy,” said Liz Mueller, the company’s chief design officer.
It’s hard to predict whether Starbucks’ much-anticipated - and probably bravest-to-date - location will pay off. On one side, the chain sells much more than coffee; rather, it embodies a global lifestyle that appeals to millennials and the younger generations right now. On the other, while Milan is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, the population is still very attached to its traditional food and drinking habits. If it does succeed, however, the company’s global coffee takeover will officially be complete.