Starbucks has unveiled its first location in Italy, the country whose coffee culture inspired the upscale and ubiquitous American chain.
Built into a cavernous former post office building in Milan, this bold first step into Italy has been described as “palatial.” The location also houses a roastery and offers a more tightly focused menu that emphasizes simpler espresso drinks. If your Milan itinerary envisions grabbing a pumpkin spice latte before scaling the Duomo, you’ll be out of luck.
In an opera-themed press release, Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ former CEO and current chairman emeritus (he stepped down earlier this year, a rumored precursor to a political run) said, “To make a long story short, you are standing in the most extraordinary expression of history and heritage and love and passion for what we do at Starbucks…everything we have done has led to this moment. My dream of bringing Starbucks to Italy is being fulfilled, and I know in my heart it will be successful.”
Photos from inside the first Italian Starbucks are an interesting examination of a cultural feedback loop on the grandest of scales. In announcing its plans in Italy in 2016, Schultz recalled his earliest impression of the coffee culture he wanted to emulate in the US: “In each shop I visited I began to see the same people and interactions, and it dawned on me that what these coffee bars had created, aside from the romance and theater of coffee, was a morning ritual and a sense of community.” Thirty years of aggressive expansion later, and much more on the horizon, the culture that inspired the proliferation of the chain coffee house can finally meet what it spawned.