Milan Is Getting a Starbucks and Italians Hate It
"If anybody buys Starbucks in Italy they should be immediately deported."
Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz has always said that a trip to Milan gave him the idea for the direction he took the chain. So it was inevitable that, as a part of the brand’s continual march toward a complete global takeover, a Starbucks would eventually open in the city that inspired it all.
Now, after nearly two years of talk, Starbucks’ first foray into Italy has a firm launch date—or at least as firm as a month and year: a 25,000-square-foot Starbucks Roastery located in a historic post office not far from the Milan Cathedral is slated to open in September of this year. It represents a significant change of plans from Schultz’s original proposal back in 2016, which was that stores would begin to pop up in early 2017. News of this massive Roastery—Starbucks’ fifth in the world—wasn’t announced until last February.
However, one thing has remained consistent since that first announcement back in 2016: Italians general hatred for the idea of Starbucks encroaching on their cafe culture with its own coopted version of their cafe culture. After news broke of the official opening date on Monday, the English language Italian site The Local Italy turned to its Facebook followers to test the temperature in the room with a poll asking whether the new Starbucks would be welcome. By an overwhelming margin—87 percent of the over 500 people that responded—the answer was “No, thanks.” (And keep in mind, as an English language site, you’d think they might have plenty of Starbucks sympathizing expats.)
Despite the negative sentiment, some commenters on the poll did point out that, coffee aside, Starbucks is a different beast entirely from a traditional Italian cafe. “You people are missing the point,” wrote one Facebook user. “SB is successful not because the coffee.... it’s because the efficiency, customer service, comfortable interior, air conditioning, good WiFi, and clean restrooms. Italy shouldn’t be so insecure, the Italian espresso is still king... but they can learn from the aforementioned items.”
Granted, he makes a good argument, but let’s be honest, the real point in all of this is that it’s just a chance to vent and crack some jokes at Starbucks’ expense. “If anybody buys Starbucks in Italy they should be immediately deported,” someone wrote along those lines on Twitter. It’s a funny sentiment… though the odds of getting that law passed are about as bad as keeping Starbucks out of Italy forever.