Starbucks to open Reserve Roastery in Milan – could this be a catalyst for a new wave of coffee culture in Italy?

MILAN, ITALY – Starbucks Coffee Company has unveiled plans to open a 25,500-square-foot Reserve Roastery in Milan, Italy in late 2018.  The announcement follows news that the company will enter the Italian coffee shop market for the first time in summer 2018, initially opening six stores in Milan and Rome.  If the market responds well, Starbucks plans to open up to 300 further outlets across Italy by 2023.
The Milan Roastery will be the first of the ultra-premium Reserve brand Roasteries to open in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and the fifth to open globally.  Following the success of the flagship Roastery in Seattle, Starbucks will open its next Roastery in Shanghai this year, followed by one each in Tokyo and New York City in 2018.  
A spokesperson from Starbucks stated that the Milan Roastery ‘will be designed specifically for the Milanese customer, integrating the world-famous theatre of coffee in Italy and will offer freshly baked food on site from Italian artisan baker Rocco Princi, the exclusive food provider for all new global Roastery locations.’

Starbucks and the Italian market

The decision for the global giant to enter the Italian market, the home of the espresso, where traditional coffee is heavily embedded into the culture, will be faced with unique challenges.  However, Allegra World Coffee Portal observes that when Starbucks enters a new market, the company often has a transformative effect on the existing coffee shop culture.  This transformation was seen when Starbucks entered the UK market in 1998, and the Dutch market in 2008.  In both cases, the company acted as a catalyst for branded coffee shop growth and paved the way for a new era of coffee culture.
Allegra World Coffee Portal expects to see a similar reaction in the Italian market. The traditional coffee shop market is set to evolve, and open the door for more multi-national branded chains and the development of artisan coffee shops.  Allegra predicts Starbucks will offer new opportunities for out-of-home socialising in coffee shops and is likely to be an attractive concept to the influential millennials and younger generations.
‘Starbucks is taking a bold step by entering the Italian market but they are doing so in a very smart and careful way, with a methodical expansion plan and a deep respect for Italy’s unique and embedded coffee culture.’ says Jeffrey Young, MD of Allegra Group. ‘Starbucks will bring something new to the market and Allegra predicts this will be the catalyst for growth in Italy and the traditional coffee culture will give way to a more modern coffee shop market evolution.’
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