Starbucks, the American coffee giant and inventor of the milkshake-like coffee drink known as the Frappuccino, is gearing up to open a store in Italy, the land of espresso. In a way, this is like Taco Bell attempting to open in Mexico and sell back a bastardized version of the original foods its menu was inspired by.
Starbucks, however, declares in a press release that it will be making the move with “humility and respect,” and that its first outpost will open in Milan early next year.
If Starbucks wants to make it in Italy, they’d better learn how to make espresso.
— Colman Andrews (@Colmanandrews) February 29, 2016
NPR writes that even though walking around Milan in 1983 inspired Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz to introduce his version of Italian coffee culture in the United States, getting Italians onboard with Starbucks will be a challenge. For one, Italians drink their coffee in the form of a strong shot of espresso standing at the bar. NPR notes, “They don’t walk down streets carrying large paper cups of what Italians consider a watery brew.” So for a business that specializes in “Venti” drinks, that is a huge hurdle to jump. Plus, in a country where “steaming milk into a swirling foam in a high art,” sugared up lattes might be tough sell.
Starbucks opens in Italy… I assume that Italians who drink their coffee there will automatically lose their citizenship, right?
— Patricia Arancibia (@queridapatricia) February 29, 2016
Hopefully things go better for Starbucks than they did for Taco Bell. When the latter tried to enter the Mexican market in 1992, it quickly failed. The company tried again in 2007, but it failed yet again. Still, Starbucks appears to have done well in other countries it has expanded to, thanks in part to the hyper localized menu items they offer in each country such as cherry blossom Frappucinos in Japan.