A big barristic brouhaha is brewing in Italy, Europe’s spiritual home of coffee. The American company Starbucks is set to go boldly where no US based coffee chain has gone before. Next year they intend to open stores in Italy.
Starbucks Corporation was established in 1971 in Seattle, USA. It is considered by some as a bastardiser of the brew but it has been very successful financially.
The McDonalds of coffee stores has, ironically, been ranked as having worse coffee than Ronald McDonalds’ premium roast in the March 2007 issue of the Consumer Reports. Although they have improved.
More recently it has fended off criticism of it tax minimisation strategies in various host countries. This multinational has paid a very small amount of tax and made an equally small amount of decent coffees.
So how does this crusading coffee conglomerate expect to be received in Milan? Most believe it will be fashionable but question the differing coffee culture of Americans and Italians.
Whereas in Italy hot and strong coffees are served rapidly to clients who pop in all day, the large milky slow service in Starbucks – with comfy chairs and Wi-Fi – offers a new experience.
However Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has been to Italy and is no idiot. His new stores are designed to fit into the local coffee culture, although he may expect some traditional coffee establishments to give him a hard time.
The Fox Gazette contacted Stefano ‘the bean’ Bertaluchi, the blogger whose site – My Online Barrister Brothers (MOBB) – is very popular. Mr Bertaluchi is one of Italy’s most wanted barristas and after replying to our questions he sounded this ominous warning: “If Starbucks wants to play fair, OK. If not, we will run them out of town as I will make them an offer they can’t refuse!”
This is understandable behaviour in Italy. It seems Schultz just needs to remember, ‘when in Rome do as the Romans’.