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Starbucks enters Italy, but will Italians drink their coffee?

Starbucks enters Italy, but will Italians drink their coffee?
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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The company calls its Milan cafe "the most beautiful Starbucks in the world".


Starbucks has opened its first ever outlet in Italy, more than three decades after Milan's cafés inspired Howard Schultz to create the American coffee giant.

The company calls its Milan's outlet "the most beautiful Starbucks in the world" and it's also now Europe's largest cafe.

It is the third of its new concept "roasteries"; the other two are in Shanghai and Seattle, the company's home town.

In a statement Schultz, a former chief executive, said: "We are not coming here to teach Italians how to make coffee, We're coming here with humility and respect, to show what we've learned."

A Starbucks cafe can now be found in 78 countries and it now has around 28,000 stores around the world.

Starbucks' model offering customers seating space and premium coffee drinks is a novelty for Italians, who are used to drinking their several espresso cups per day while standing at a bar counter.

"We wanted to come and bring a premium experience that is different to what people in Italy are used to," said Starbucks' chief design officer Liz Muller.

So what do Italians drinking coffee in a nearby cafe in Milan, Caffè Napoli, think about the new arrival?

"I've tasted Starbucks coffee and I'll absolutely stick to Italian coffee. Rigorously foamy and in a hot cup, Giulia said.

"I think the classic Italian coffee is best. I also prefer it when I go abroad," Giuanluigi said,

Starbucks is confident that they have the right formula though.

"When you look at all the various brewing methods and you look at the high quality espresso coffee that we are going to be able to serve the price will reflect that," John Culver, the global president of Starbucks said.

And that price is 1.8 euros - nearly double what Italians normally pay for a cup.

But an Italian consumer group called Codacons has already filed a complaint with the national competition watchdog accusing Starbucks of overcharging customers.

Codacons also said Starbucks' price tag of 4.50 euros for a cappuccino compared with the average Milan price of 1.30 euros.

"These above market prices can cause a damage to Italian consumers who want to have the experience of a coffee at Starbucks," it said in a statement on Thursday.

"We have asked the antitrust (authority) to verify the correctness of Starbucks' commercial practice in its first Milanese store," it added.

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