Ever wondered why you cannot find Starbucks in Italy? Or whether Starbucks’ coffee can hold its own on a real Roman cappuccino? Then read on. The opinions diverge on whether Italian coffee needs new inspiration because “it is not what it once was”, or whether America simply has an “overroasting” issue concerning their coffee. Coffee Clash?
Italy is where it all began for Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schulz, who established Starbucks in Seattle after a revelatory trip to Italy in 1983. But the circle has yet to come to a full close. While rumors circulated in 1998 that the company was going to test waters in Italy when expanding to the European market, Italians are still waiting for the famed American coffeehouse to make an appearance. Not all of them are waiting with joyous anticipation, though: Andrea Illy, CEO of Illycaffe – considered Italy’s top-quality roaster of espresso – was not worried by Howard Schulz’ assessment that the Italian coffee culture needs new inspiration because it is “not what it once was”. From The New Yorker:
… (Andrea) Illy criticized Starbucks, observing that what works in America may not work in Italy. Americans, he claimed, liked everything “big,” including their coffee, while Italians prefer the experience of savoring a small “burst of flavor.” America, he continued, had an “overroasting culture,” which is why, he claimed, they use so much milk and syrup. Illy ended by saying that the world contained espresso drinkers and “other people,” and that Italians were the espresso drinkers, while Americans were the “other people”. (Read more at The New Yorker.)
It seems that Starbucks’ has since decided to tread lightly on Italian soil, or not at all. Innovation Zen’s analysis of the matter:
Starbucks’ decision to not enter the Italian market could be strategically correct. The Italian people would be reluctant to abandon their traditions, and the risks of an eventual failure out weight by far the possible rewards of succeeding. The image about the espresso experience is a corner stone of Starbucks’ business model, and they are not risking to damage it.
Tell us, do you want to see Starbucks in Italy? I am ambivalent on the issue, in the sense that I prefer Italy’s coffee (of course!), but think that Starbucks may have the edge on the cake- and dessertfront.Rate this article by clicking here.
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