Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz has always said he was inspired to get into the coffee game after hanging out in Milan. Now he plans to bring his vision full circle, as it’s been reported that Starbucks is working toward a deal with an Italian businessman to begin opening stores in Italy in 2016.
Though still speculative at this point, Italian site The Local was nonetheless happy to run the headline, “Starbucks rumours get Italians in a froth.” Not that finding Italians willing to complain is difficult journalism, but the site seemed to have no problem hammering down the angle they were after.
“It's disgusting,” said 62-year-old restaurant owner Michele Grimaldi. “Big chains like that destroy the individuality of places until you can no longer recognize them.” However, eventually, he decided, “It won't work anyway, Italians are too protective.”
Most other Italians The Local spoke to seemed to agree. “Italians will never pay three times the price for something that we can do better for a fraction of the cost,” said café owner Sergio Cioffi, who called the whole idea “ridiculous.” A 23-year-old student, Federica Valenti, was equally dismissive: “I don't even like the taste of Starbucks. It's not the principle I mind, if it tasted good maybe I'd buy it, but I just think Italian coffee is better.”
But a man with the very non-Italian name of Bill Paige, who works at a global franchise consultancy firm, really hit the nail on the head. “In Italy there's some of the finest coffee there is—but there are also lots of tourists,” he said, “and it would be a comfort to them.”
Precisely. It’s somewhere tourists and expats can feel at home. Especially when “grande, venti and trenta” is the only Italian they know—kinda.