Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 9, 2018

Starbucks in Milan

I admit to being surprised and horrified that Starbucks would come to Italy. In my humble opinion I think Italy has the best coffee in the world. Why would they need Starbucks?

On the way back to Australia I stayed a couple of days in Milan so I decided to see for myself what the new addition to Milan’s coffee scene looks like.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery opened on 7th September in the stunning Poste building in Piazza Cordusio in the centre of Milan, not far from the glorious Duomo.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon to find a queue that stretched around the corner. We didn’t join it.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

The following morning we went back early and found it almost empty.

Starbucks Milan

The interior is huge and amazing. No expense has been spared. It is said to be the most beautiful Starbucks in the world. I have only visited a few fairly ordinary looking Starbucks in New York, so I can’t really compare them, but the Milan offering is spectacular.

There is a giant fully functioning coffee roaster, an enormous main bar, a mezzanine bar where specialty cocktails are made and a bakery with wood fired oven…a lot to take in.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

 

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

A clackerboard lets you know what type of coffee is being roasted.

Starbucks Milan

A floor to ceiling brass wall is engraved with a representation of Starbucks history.

Starbucks Milan

In front of the wall is Starbucks merchandise for sale.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

The seating is either on high stools or on chairs with low tables, neither of which appeals to me.

Starbucks Milan

Starbucks Milan

The pastries looked delicious.

We ordered a plain croissant and one filled with frittata, both were excellent.

Starbucks Milan

The coffee came in a large mug. I prefer a smaller cup as there is far too much milk in a mug. At least it wasn’t served in a huge paper cup. The 2 croissants and 2 coffees cost €18. At my local cafe in Bagni di Lucca the same things would have cost around €5. I guess you are paying for the experience.

The staff appear to be chosen for their good looks and ethnic diversity. They were cheerful and eager to please.

We went to the bathroom downstairs with its impressive wash basin which sits between 2 rows of toilets.

Starbucks Milan

Strangely there are only 4 female and 4 male toilets for a place that holds a lot of people. There was already a queue before we left as the building filled up quickly in the short time we were there.

There is far too much to take in on one visit and the photos don’t do it justice. I will probably return for another look out of curiosity, but I prefer smaller bars where after a couple of visits the barista gets to know you and you become a local. It will be interesting to see how Starbucks fares once the novelty wears off.


Responses

  1. Our ‘specialty’ coffee drinks from Starbucks cost about $8 or $9 US for the 2 of us when we happen to go there. In Lucca the delicious morning cappuccinos we get at our neighborhood cafe are about €2 for both of us, so less than 1/3rd of the price. The pastries at our local Starbucks are expensive and not very tasty so we don’t buy any. In Lucca they are €1 or less and they are absolutely delicious. We look forward to getting back to Lucca and our delicious and reasonably priced morning coffe & pastries! The strength of the Starbucks brand is curiously amazing, even in a coffee culture country like Italy.

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    • Starbucks in Milan is stunning, the coffee is much better than what I have had in USA and the pastries were very good. They have done an amazing job restoring an old building and I wish them every success, but as I said, I prefer small cafes. I have my favourites in Lucca and miss them when I am back in Australia.

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  2. Not a fan of Starbucks regardless of position.

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    • This position is certainly worth a look.

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  3. Such a shame when Starbucks takes over such beautiful buildings. Italians never get the toilet thing right- not surprising.

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    • I am not a Starbucks fan, but they have done a wonderful job on this building which was probably sitting there going to waste.
      I agree with you about the Italian toilet thing…weird.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good to hear a personal perspective of the new Starbucks, Debra I guess it does warren to visit

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    • I was curious to see how it would work. Starbucks have certainly done their Italian homework and have used local products and craftspeople to make it look great.

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  5. The place looks spectacular, but I have to say Starbucks is Starbucks. Like you, Deb, I prefer smaller coffee cafes. Can imagine the lovely smell of coffee roasting in the big vats; and the aromas wafting throughout the room while patrons sip their coffees. The croissants look fresh, fluffy and scrumptious. Like you, I still think Annaliesse’s pastries are the best!

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    • The coffee was OK and the croissants excellent.

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  6. If you google ‘Starbucks in Milan’ there are several interesting articles about how they approached this particular store with detailed attention due to its location. One in particular I found interesting is
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennawang/2018/09/13/why-it-took-starbucks-47-years-to-open-a-store-in-italy/#3c4b4116fc00

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    • Thank you for the link. I read a few articles about the effort Starbucks made to fit into the Italian ethic and I think it mostly works.

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  7. It just makes me so sad to see Italians selling out to visit a foreign version offering what they already have, but at inflated prices. Don’t they realise that they are being sold a poorer, glitzier version of what they do themselves? I thought the locals might have seen through the irony and not fallen for it but then I remember being at the opening of one of the first MacDonald’s in Italy back in 1986, and it was the same, queues of young Italians just dying to get a taste of ‘the USA’. So not much has changed!

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    • I think people will be attracted by the gorgeous building. It remains to be seen whether Italians will embrace Starbucks. There are plenty of foreigners who probably will.

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  8. In order to penetrate the Italian market where, as you said, people can find among the best coffee in the world Starbucks had to impress because first impression lasts. Certainly this place looks stunning, but the question is whether they can keep the momentum or not. It’s interesting to see how they will be doing in the new couple of years.

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    • It will be interesting indeed to see how it goes long term.

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  9. Not like any Starbucks I’ve ever seen … usually the coffee is horrible!! See you soon for a proper coffee at Marchetti? Jxx

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    • It is nothing like any Starbucks I have seen in USA, quite spectacular.

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  10. Thanks for doing the legwork. The post office facade is quite elegant, but I don’t see that architecture reflected in the interior decor, which looks a lot like what you find in Las Vegas – modern swank without character. Odd that the bathroom has so many more sinks and mirrors than toilets, perhaps to primp so you look your best for the experience.

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    • The photos don’t really do the interior justice. It is huge and the brass, timber and marble works quite well.
      The bathroom situation is ridiculous.

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  11. Not a fan of Starbucks, but I agree with you, they did an impressive work.

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    • The setting is fabulous. They have done their homework and taken Italian ideas on board.

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  12. its a cliche to say the “local” bars are always better and cheaper: compare the size of a starbucks cappucino to that of a “local” bar, it’s three times as big, and yes, it has way more milk, which is a good thing. Also, starbucks offers way more options than any typical local bar. I have traveled throughout Italy and they rarely have soy milk or dairy free milk. The coffee is always too strong, and their cups are too small to hold enough milk to dilute the cofee, so no, starbucks coming to Italy is not a bad thing.

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    • I’m afraid I can’t agree with anything much here. It is not a cliche to say small local bars in Italy are good, it is simply the truth.
      There is far too much milk in Starbucks coffee in USA. The flavourings are dreadful. Americans seem to like this style of coffee, but most of the rest of the world does not.
      Soy milk is becoming readily available in Italy and there are many variations in coffee styles. I’m definitely on the side of Italian coffee over the American version.
      To have a hope of getting on in Italy Starbucks has had to change a lot to suit the locals. Starbucks in Milan is a novelty right now. It will be interesting to see how it goes. The price may put many people off.
      Coffee styles are different in every country and people tend to like their local brew.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Looks like Starbucks did a nice job.

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    • They have done a great job with the interior. It must have cost a fortune.

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  14. Woah that is rather gorgeous and I guess they pulled out all the stops for Milan knowing that coffee and Italy would be a tough market!

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  15. Good lord! I’ve only been to one Starbucks and that was in the US: the coffee was not a nice experience.

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    • I don’t like Starbucks coffee in America but it is much better in Italy.

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  16. This was fascinating, Debra – I do remember watching a news report on Starbucks Milan when it first opened and seeing glimpses of the cavernous, eye-popping interior. Thank you for taking us into the building and sharing your honest opinions about the whole experience.

    I actually worked as a Starbucks barista for two months in a residential Hong Kong neighborhood after studying in Spain, where one of my flatmates was a Sicilian who brewed the most fabulous espresso and served it in small cups. So it was quite the adjustment. I generally steered clear of the espressos there but the lattes and cappuccinos were at least half-decent as my coworkers took pride in their creations; the best part though were the excellent pastries and other baked goods (especially the spinach and ricotta pie). One thing I loved doing at lunch break was brushing a flaky minced meat roll with honey before toasting it in the oven, and then sprinkling cinnamon over the top to give it a somewhat Moroccan twist.

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    • I was very impressed with the effort Starbucks has taken to make their Italian offer something special. I don’t like their coffee in USA, but clearly Americans love it.
      Our coffee culture in Australia was started by Italians so I guess that is why I prefer Italian style coffee.
      It is interesting to taste coffee in different countries. Every place has their own take on it.
      I will return to Starbucks in Milan. It is a bit expensive, but it is an experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Well it certainly is gorgeous and not like any Starbucks that I’ve ever been to. Their pastries look great. I suppose they will be a success if only for all the American tourists that will go to get their specialty coffee and buy a mug as a souvenir. Myself, I think I would rather sit in one of the little cafes and experience Milan the Italian way. 🙂

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    • I didn’t see American style Starbucks coffee, maybe it is there. The interior is beautiful. I would go back, the experience is more Italian than American.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I used to like Starbucks, but that was before I actually enjoyed the taste of coffee and I would order coffee with sugary sweet additions such as caramel and marshmallows. Now, I love a good espresso and give me Italian style coffee any day. We couldn’t believe how cheap it was to have good coffee in Italy – 90 cents for an espresso at the bar and the pastries well also good and cheap especially when you consider what we pay in Queensland. That said, I would definitely check out Starbucks in Milan, just for the experience of seeing the interior because it looks incredible.

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    • Like you, I am not a fan of the milky, flavoured coffee at Starbucks in USA, but the one in Milan serves coffee that is more like the Italian version and the interior is stunning.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Having lived in Milan for going 25 years, I think this Starbucks is an abomination. Certainly not a place that adds anything worthy to the Italian or Milanese coffee scene. Yes it’s fancy, yes it’s designed to the last detail. But so is Las Vegas. And that’s what it feels like. The prices are outrageous. The line outside and the bouncers are a ridiculous feature. And the organization inside is terrible. You have to wait in one line for coffee. Another line for food. And another line for “special” coffee. When it’s full, it’s a jam of people walking around with their phones in front of their faces. Mostly tourists. The worse news is that Starbucks has plans to open ten more “normal” Starbucks in the city. A city that has wonderful coffee, service and atmosphere in multiplicity on every block. And each of this small neighborhood bars is unique in its own right. Starbucks should paying homage to Italy for all that it learned, not ruining Italy’s coffee scene.

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    • I can understand your comments. I don’t think it is necessary in Italy, but I think they have tried to make it look great.
      Yes, it is expensive, yes the lines are ridiculous, but that will stop soon enough.
      There were no lines when we were there, but I can see that it could be a problem.
      I certainly hope they don’t open any more!

      Like


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