First Look: Starbucks’ stunning Italian debut
Starbucks Corp. has entered Italy — the birthplace of espresso and its 77th country to date — with a grand and lavish store that is like no other the coffee giant has ever opened.
The just-opened, 25,000-sq.-ft. Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan is the “crown jewel” of Starbucks’ global retail footprint. Located in a palazzo close to the city’s major attractions, the space features such design details as hand-chiseled flooring made of local marble, bar tops carved from Tuscan marble and equipped with radiant heating, and a hand-carved Carrara marble statue of the brand’s signature siren icon. A clackerboard that resembles those used in Italian train stations describe the available specialty roasts.
The mezzanine, which is reached by a sweeping staircase, features a 30-foot long marble bar offering specialty cocktails. It’s also home to a Princi bakery and café, complete with a wood-fired oven. (Starbucks entered into a partnership with the Italian company in 2016.) The building’s terrace has a European-styled street-side café.
“From the palladiana flooring that was chiseled by hand to the bright green clackerboard made by Italian craftsman Solari, everything you see in the Roastery is intentional, offering moments of discovery and transparency.” said Liz Muller, chief design officer, Starbucks.
Starbucks debuted its Reserve Roastery format in Seattle in 2014, opening a second location in Shanghai in December. (Three more are planned, in New York City, Chicago and Tokyo.). The upscale concept is interactive, multi-sensory and high-tech, offering customers an immersive experience. The Milan site is designed to pay homage to the city while celebrating the art and science of coffee. An in-store coffee roaster provides customers with visibility to all aspects of the roasting process, with a 360-degree walk-around view of the manufacturing site.
The physical environment is complemented by an interactive augmented reality (AR) experience that invites customers to use their mobile device to learn more about Starbucks Reserve coffees, the roasting process and the company. The centerpiece of the AR experience is a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall visual representation of Starbucks history and its coffee – engraved in brass by local craftsmen, burnished to an ombre finish and backlit to bring warmth to the story.
The opening of the Milan location has special meaning for Starbucks’ chairman emeritus Howard Schultz. It was on a trip to Milan, in 1983, that he became inspired by the city’s cafes to build his own coffee empire.
“The opening of the Milan Roastery is the story of Starbucks coming full circle,” he said. “Everything we have experienced, since that first moment of inspiration 35 years ago to now being a daily part of millions of people’s lives around the world, we bring with great respect to Italy.”
Starbucks plans to open traditional stores in Milan with licensed partner Percassi beginning late 2018. “These stores will reflect the unique coffee culture of the Italian market, while also offering Starbucks iconic beverage and food offerings,” the company stated.
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