Experiencing Starbucks in the coffee capital of the world (adjust headline) (A MAG)


Milan Starbucks

Lydia DiMeolo

I’m in Italy, the coffee capital of the world. Why would I want to go into the coffee chain that has taken over the States? This is a country where the coffee culture is stronger than any other place, where baristas take pride in the coffee they create for you. I’ve quickly become used to my daily run to my cafe for quality espresso for only €1.00.

I was very opposed to going into Starbucks in Milan. I wanted to be able to say I survived five months of living abroad without Starbucks. I didn’t want to stick out and be that American walking down the street with a large Starbucks to-go cup. But with much convincing from my friends, who missed their large cup of Pikes Place coffee, I agreed to go with them. To my surprise, it was very unique and different from what I am used to back in the States.

With only six Starbucks Reserve Roasteries in the world, they were able to land one of the roasteries in Milan, Italy. This is the first Starbucks to enter Italy just over one year ago, 47 years after the first Starbucks had been opened. It is located within the turn of the century Palazzo delle Poste building in Milan.

At the reserve, it’s a much larger format coffee shop. You have a more unique experience. You can purchase from their reserve coffees, the unique and rare blends, watch them roast the beans, grab a bite to eat and buy some merchandise on your way out. In this specific location in Milan, Starbucks has the roasting machine in the center of the store, kind of like their centerpiece. You can watch them roast the beans, a process that takes about 12 minutes from start to finish. They are there to inform and educate individuals on the roasting and what goes behind a cup of coffee.

No mobile orders or drive-thru pick up here. Come in to experience what it has to offer you. There are multiple places to order from whether you are wanting a drink from the bar, or maybe a panini or just a coffee. I went straight to the coffee bar to see whether it was much different than what I’m accustomed to in the States.

The menu looked very different from the one in the U.S. You won’t find any frappuccinos or drinks with little to no espresso in them pumped with a sugary syrup. Their menu is filled with drinks you’d see in most Italian cafes, like espresso, cappuccinos, caffe latte and marocchinos. They also have specialty blends and “Today’s Starbucks Reserve Creations.”

One thing that hasn’t changed from a US Starbucks to an Italian Starbucks is overpaying for your drink. You can expect to pay €4.50 for a short cappuccino or €5.50 for a grande. Compared to going to a local cafe, you would pay something closer to €1.50 for a cappuccino.

I believe the locals are still a bit skeptical to the idea of Starbucks. As I scanned the store, I found it mostly filled with tourists and foreigners. It is a whole new concept to what most Itallians are used to. It is going to take some convincing to pull away Italians from their much loved local bar to step into a Starbucks.

Lydia DiMeolo is an abroad contributor to A Magazine. Contact her at [email protected].