It takes a whole lot of beans to try to compete with Italian espresso in Italy, but Starbucks’ outgoing CEO Howard Schultz says his chain is finally up for the challenge.
Starbucks has some 26,000 stores in 75 countries around the world, but not Italy. Schultz says it’s time to enter that market with one of the company’s new high-end cafes, which will open in Milan next year.
“I didn’t think we were ready to come to Italy,” Schultz told The Associated Press. “I think Italy is such a special place. I am so respectful of the Italian coffee heritage and the Italian culture, and I think we had to earn that respect, opportunity, and I think over the years we got to the point that we are now ready to come.”
The cafe will also feature Princi baked goods and deli items as part of Starbucks’ partnership with the Italian bakery, which until now, only involved cafes outside of Italy.
Schultz will be spending much of his time focusing on the company’s line of upscale “Reserve” roastery locations after he leaves his post as CEO in April. The Milan cafe, he says, completes his “own dream and the circle of Starbucks.”
There are skeptics of Starbucks’ plan, naturally.
“We are happy the way we are,” a Milan coffee bar patron told the AP. “We don’t need to be invaded by American scenery. We already have McDonald’s and that’s enough.”