Starbucks Is Excelling In Italy Despite Initial Pushback

Considering that Venice is home to the world's oldest coffee shop (per Caffé Florian) and Italian coffee makers were responsible for the invention of cappuccinos and lattes (via Eataly), it's safe to say that Italy is a country that has become synonymous with coffee culture. In fact, espresso, another coffee venture you can thank Italy for, is so essential to its history that the country petitioned the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to make the drink an official Italian cultural symbol.

That being said, while Italy is often considered the best place to get your hands on an authentic cup of joe, global phenomenon Starbucks has historically been scorned by coffee gurus for its more dessert-than-coffee drinks. So when the chain decided in 2018 to set up shop in the country that holds coffee close to its heritage and heart, it should come as no surprise that Italians were less-than-thrilled (per CNBC). But now, a mere four years after Starbucks made its debut in Italy, the coffee company is setting an example for how American chains can earn success in other countries.

Starbucks understands how important coffee is in Italy

After Starbucks revealed it was hoping to open its first Italian location in Milan, CNBC reported disaster struck before it even opened its doors. Italians were so outraged by the announcement they set fire to trees that the company planted in the Piazza del Duomo. But that was not enough to send the store packing back to America. Now, Starbucks has 20 stores operating across Italy.

According to The Take Out, the secret behind Starbucks' success in the coffee-loving country is simple. The brand recognized that this was not America, where many people weren't as familiar with the difference between cappuccinos and lattes, and adjusted accordingly. CNBC noted that before Starbucks started building its Milan location, it gained insight into the region's culture from an Italian brand manager and businesses based in the country. These connections are more than likely what influenced the company to make its Starbucks Milan location look like a classic Italian coffee shop. And when locals step into this Italian-architecture-driven Starbucks, they'll also find that its menu is not filled with its usual Americanized coffee fair. Instead, its drinks are inspired by authentic Italian recipes.

CNBC reported that before setting out on its Italian coffee journey, Starbucks initially stated that it wanted to use its Milan coffee shop "to demonstrate our respect and gratitude to the city of Milan." And it seems that the company's dedication to its promise has paid off.