Despite strong resistance from locals, Starbucks has opened its first branch in Italy. Housed in the historic Poste building in Milan’s Piazza Cordusio, not far from the city’s imposing Duomo and La Scala opera house, the branch — one of three Reserve Roasteries across the world, with the other two in Seattle and Shanghai — is the first in a chain of coffee shops rolling out across the fashion capital. Starbucks plans to open additional Roasteries in New York later this year, and in Tokyo as well as Chicago in 2019.
The coffee behemoth’s first location in Italy is inspired by Milan itself, drawing design cues from the city’s vibrant culture and fashion identity. Featuring a Scolari coffee roaster manufactured just kilometres outside of Milan, this special outpost will feature an interactive augmented reality (AR) experience, encouraging customers to discover more about Starbucks Reserve coffees and the roasting process through their smartphones.
Decor-wise, the Roastery is the first Starbucks in the world to use marble in its bar tops, matching the espresso bars across Milan. The bars are heated from within using radiant heat so they stay warm during winter. To complete the luxurious experience, you’ll be stepping on floors designed and handcrafted by local artisans in Palladiana style, an ancient technique unique to Northern Italy.
Because this is a special Roastery after all, the coffee bar will serve more than 115 different drinks including espresso and cold brew. Those looking to beat the heat can indulge in an affogato — the ice cream is made to order using liquid nitrogen, and paired with a shot of espresso. Prefer something stronger instead? The Milan Roastery also has an Arriviamo Bar that offers more than 100 variety of cocktails.
How will Starbucks fare in a country where its coffee is drunk generally standing up? Perhaps, the coffee chain will seek to improve on making better coffee, especially with fierce competition from the local coffee bars.