Starbucks Will Open First Italian Shop In 2017

Starbucks will open its first Italian location in early 2017

Starbucks is making a bold move. The coffee giant just announced it will open its first store in Italy early next year, The Guardian reports. Up to now, the chain has steered clear of Italy, perhaps the most intimidating coffee market in the world to break into. Italians are serious about "taking" their coffee (how ordering is phrased in the country). No cappuccini—or really any drink laden with milk—is a socially acceptable order after breakfast time, and sitting while drinking coffee is largely frowned upon. Shots of espresso are meant to be consumed at a bar, quickly—a far cry from the sit-and-linger MO at Starbucks outlets across the U.S.

To help ease into the market, Starbucks is partnering with a local brand-management and real estate group called Percassi. And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz seems to have an idea of what he's getting his company into: "Starbucks history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso. . . . Now we're going to try, with great humility and respect, to share what we've been doing and what we've learned through our first retail presence in Italy." Whether Starbucks will offer free Wi-Fi, places to sit and flat whites all afternoon and evening long remains to be seen.

The company's overseas expansions have had mixed results in the past: It took 17 years to turn a profit in the UK, and it struggled in Australia, another country with a strong coffee culture. But Starbucks isn't slowing down its expansion any time soon: There are plans for 700 stores in China.