Italians and Starbucks
Once that an Italian crosses the threshold of any Starbucks all over the world, he never wants to go out! The charming atmosphere given by comfortable armchairs, people sat or even relaxed drinking their Frappuccini during the summer or hot beverages in winter, catches Italians’ eye insomuch as, when they plan to go abroad for a vacation, (in most cases young people), they often check where is the closest Starbucks in which they could taste american coffee and brownies.
The question now comes spontaneous: why the population with the best and refined Espresso should be thrilled just to the idea of going to Starbucks? I think that it is not just for nice beverages, paper cups with your name on and fashionable merchandise, but especially because, at Starbucks, you can sit down with your friends and talk about this and that, if you are a writer who needs a comfortable but not too quite place, there you can write the last chapter of your novel; or if it is just you and your laptop, wi – fi connection will allow you to spend the afternoon surfing on the net.
So, among Italians Starbucks is cool because it is like the living room they have never had, with a window on the city by which they can be distracted by people walking and shop’s lights, while they are sipping a caramel Frappuccino and eating a fat chocolate cake. And once in a while flipping over the pages of the daily newspaper or laughing with friends.
Unfortunately, as many people know, Howard Schultz, the owner of Starbucks, doesn’t intend to open one of them in Italy, because he is afraid to not have success in a country in which coffee culture is so different from the American one. But the Italian fans of the chain didn’t give up and they built some blogs called vogliamostarbucks.com where they manifested their disappointment for Schultz’s choice.
What the most doesn’t know is where Starbucks’ come from, what are its origins. And here comes the surprise, because it was thank to a journey in Italy (on behalf of a Swedish coffee machineries company), that Schultz decided, once come back to USA, to invest in a little and simple coffee shop that two young business men of Seattle called like the Achab’s mate of the novel Moby Dick. Schultz had been inspired by Italian squares and bars of the 80s and from this idea he has been able to open 11 thousands Starbucks just in America, building an empire of 10 thousands dollars. Forbes placed him in the first 300 richest men chart with an income of a billion and 300 millions, declaring that he’s shaping a new idea of bussiness based also on non – profit.
So, it is quite understandable why selling coffee to Italians would be a huge risk for Schultz’s empire: they are used to have it standing before going to work, not while they are going to work; they are not even used to think at bars in a different way from the one they have been conceived for. Nevertheless, some months ago Schultz announced that he’s thinking to open a Starbucks in Italy, it might be in Rome or Milan, by the end of next year. There is still hope.
Repubblica (Affari e Finanza), p. 6 10 – 31, 2011