Saying that it will finally do business in the country that helped inspire its approach to coffee, Starbucks has announced plans to open its first store in Italy early next year, venturing into the cradle of espresso.
Saying that it is making the move "with humility and respect," Starbucks announced that its first store in Italy will be in Milan.
From Rome, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports:
"It was in Milan in 1983 that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz fell in love with the Italian coffee culture and introduced his version to the United States. While Starbucks is all over Europe, Italy long remained the elusive Holy Grail.
"For years, it had been believed that concoctions such as a Frapuccino would be a flop in the country where steaming milk into a swirling foam is a high art.
"And Italians take their espresso as a strong shot standing at the bar — they don't walk down streets carrying large paper cups of what Italians consider a watery brew. "
The Milan store will be operated by Italian developer Antonio Percassi, who admits that opening a coffee shop in Italy will be "a unique challenge."
But, Percassi adds, "we are confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets."
A retrospective posted on Starbucks' website today recounts that when Schultz visited Italy back in 1983, he was then a marketing director for the Seattle company, which was at the time focused on whole-bean coffee sales.