Starbucks in Milan: Is this the end for Italian coffee?
When Starbucks opened its elegant new outlet in the northern Italian city of Milan this week, it raised eyebrows and quickened pulses already racing from morning shots of espresso. Can the American chain really muscle in on a coffee culture so firmly part of national identity in Italy? Does this spell the end for Italian coffee? Or a new direction. The truth is, for all the fanfare surrounding the new “Reserve Roastery,” including the long lines outside, it’s unlikely to have much of a long-term impact on locals. Italians love their espresso on the run. We gulp it down standing at the bar counter, the little round porcelain cup still fuming in our hand, then pay and rush out. No sitting down on a stool or chair. Five minutes total, depending on rush hour queues. Grazie, arrivederci! Coffee al volo, on the fly, is part of our lifestyle, an innate cultural trait. So Milan’s new Starbucks will likely have a hard time getting the workaholic Milanese to sit down and enjoy an American twist to our sacred daily ritual. The pull of the brand’s name will undoubtedly lure and amaze some customers more curious about the “Starbucks experience” than about the coffee itself.