If you’re a person like Sebastian or me who’s collecting Starbucks mugs from all the places you visit during your trips and if you ever traveled through Italy, you very likely have experienced the same as we did, when we were searching for a Starbucks there. There just is no Starbucks in Italy! I remember, March 2016 was my very first time to travel to Rome, Italy, for work with a colleague. We both were going crazy looking for a Starbucks. As coffee lovers and sleepyheads, we needed coffee to keep us awake and be mentally fit all day long! More importantly, I am a mug addict and couldn’t wait to add the Italy Starbucks mugs to my collection.
Anyway, I thought Starbucks is just everywhere in the world and was irritated not finding any in Rome. “It must be somewhere around in this famous ‘coffee city'”, I thought to myself. How wrong I was. After the first three days, all we could see were just coffeehouses in the streets and finally we googled the fact that Starbucks doesn’t even exist in Italy yet. But for good reasons, as I will show you. Let’s first dive into Italian coffee culture, before I explain the current situation of Starbucks in Italy, a country which is so well known for its art, good food and beverages.
In Italy, people call coffee shops “coffee bars”, “coffeehouses” or “cafés”. They are essentially serve traditional hot coffee, like café latte, cappuccino, espresso, or tea and other hot beverages. Well, I know what you’re thinking! The term “bar” may make you think that people have a crazy drinking problem in Italy. I would say they do – a coffee drinking “problem”! It’s part of the everyday routine of many Italians, to go to a coffee or espresso bar and order fresh coffee or espresso in the morning, in order to start their day, which contributes to the culture and the flair of the typical Italian street scenery. It’s not unusual, to just go into the bar and stand at the table instead of sitting and order your espresso or whatever you want, hence the term “bar”.
In order to enjoy the coffee like a local, remember to stand in the bar instead of sitting in a table! If you stand you often pay just half or third the price you would, if you take a seat. So, how do we really make order? First go to the cash register and say what you wish to drink and pay first. Then take the receipt, bring it to the bar with you, hand it to the server and he or she will hand you out the coffee. Sounds familiar, right? Well Starbucks’ business somehow imitates how the original coffee bars in Italy work! More about it in the next paragraph!
Howard Schultz is the CEO and founder of Starbucks how we know it today (even though the companies origins lay a bit further behind). His inspiration stems from traditional Italian coffeehouses as places where people can gather and stay for some time. So his play was to turn the Starbucks chain into a place that serves this purpose. In the past 30 years, Starbucks has been spreading this very concept into the world and now exists in pretty much every country, except for Italy. Why? Well, the Italians adore their food and drink culture and have a significant history when it comes to coffee, coffeehouses and the art of brewing and making a good coffee. That’s the reason why Italy didn’t permit Starbucks to come into the country so far. Well, this soon will be history.
Surprise! We are not kidding! The first Starbucks in Italy will finally open in late 2018! The first coffeehouses will open their doors in Milan and Rome. So if you are craving for Starbucks in Italy, then 2018 will be your year. Whether you love it or hate it but Mr. Schultz will bring his modern interpretation of traditional coffeehouses to Italy, where the roots of its concept have been flourishing since the late 18th century. True story: The Antico Caffè Greco in Rome for instance opened in 1760. Only Caffè Florian in Venice is older. It opened in 1720!
This is the reason why Howard Schultz officially stated that Starbucks should come to Italy to “learn from the best” (and of course make good money there). The potential is huge, as Italians just love drinking coffee. No wonder that there are around 150,000 coffee bars in Italy. Picture this: If you would put 400 Italians in each one of the coffee bars in Italy, the entire population of the country would be off of the streets!
With Starbucks about to come to Italy, there sure will be some additional places to enjoy a nice cup of coffee, or buy one of the famous mugs. Don’t miss it, if you are a mug lover like we are! Me & Sebastian are already getting ready to get a new souvenir from there. Not that we bought lots of stuff on our road trip through Tuscany already. 😁✌🏼🚙🇮🇹