Starbucks is set to open in Rome - but can it compete with a local cappuccino?
It’s official: coffee giant Starbucks will set up shop in Rome. The Seattle-born chain has announced plans to open a location near the Vatican Museums in September, with a second store potentially on Piazza di Spagna in the works. The arrival of Starbucks in the Eternal City comes on-the-heels of its debut on Italian soil in Milan last year; the chic metropolis is now home to three Starbucks cafes.
While the launch of a chain store proves hardly newsworthy in other countries, Italy is the exception: the bel paese has always revered and fiercely guarded its coffee culture, which starkly contrasts with Starbucks’ format. Costs, for example, differ (a typical cappuccino in Rome costs only €1 (US$.87), while container sizes like “venti” and “grande” are non-existent. And forget about whipped cream and flavored syrups – the classic Italian coffee menu is composed of a handful of options. In short, it’s no surprise that the US coffeehouse has taken 47 years to try its luck in Italy.
Locals have mixed opinions. Roman student Alice Addestri shares “I think it’s great news, I want my city to become more international. Italy’s coffee tradition will always be here; I don’t see Starbucks as a threat.” Longtime Rome expat Linda Martinez, meanwhile, believes “the beauty of travel is to experience the unique offerings of a place, and Italy has that in spades – coffee and all. I don’t want every city to look and taste the same...I won’t be going to Starbucks.”
Dario Fociani, founder of specialty coffee bar Faro says “we are two completely different businesses, industry vs. artisan…Starbucks is multinational, and they’ve opened an impressive location in Milan. I don’t know if it’ll contaminate our sector or improve it. We’ll see.” Today, Starbucks has over 28,000 locations in 78 countries worldwide, bringing in over $22 billion in revenue a year.