Starbucks has opened its first store in Italy – the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan. The highly anticipated Milan Roastery is the crown jewel of Starbucks' global retail footprint; a place where Italian customers can come to discover the art and science of coffee in a breathtaking environment that is both a homage to the city of Milan and a celebration of everything Starbucks has learned about coffee in its 47-year history.
'During my first trip to Milan in 1983, I was captivated by the sense of community I found in the city’s espresso bars – the moments of human connection that passed so freely and genuinely between baristas and their customers. The opening of the Milan Roastery is the story of Starbucks coming full circle,' says Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus of Starbucks. '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. On behalf of the 350,000 partners who wear the green apron and millions before them, I am so proud and humbled to bring our Italian customers an experience that is the very best of Starbucks.'
Starbucks' arrival in Italy – the company’s 78th global market – is unlike any other market opening in its history. Milan marks the first time Starbucks has established its retail presence in a new country with the Roastery format, of which only two others exist in the world: the Seattle Roastery, which opened in 2014, and the Roastery in Shanghai, which debuted in 2017. The 2,300 sq m Milan Roastery is in Milan’s Palazzo della Poste on the Piazza Cordusio, only streets away from iconic landmarks such as the Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Teatro alla Scala.
'We have taken our time to ensure our entry into Italy is done thoughtfully and respectfully,' says Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer at Starbucks. 'The introduction of our Roastery and premium Reserve brand will set the stage for the long-term development of our core store portfolio with our world-class licensee partner, Percassi.'
At the Milan Roastery, heritage and innovation take center stage against a backdrop of stunning design and immersive discovery. As customers enter the building, they are met with an impressive view that spans every aspect of the Roastery experience. Vibrant colours reflective of the Italian fashion and design community greet each person, and over the course of the day, the space transforms from the light filtering through the glass ceiling.
At the heart of the environment is a fully-functioning Scolari coffee roaster, manufactured just miles outside of the centre of Milan. To the right, customers will find the main bar, where classic espresso beverages mingle with cutting-edge coffee innovation. The wood-fronted bar features fluting, which echoes a motif found in Italian architecture throughout history, and is topped with marble sourced from the world-famous quarries of Tuscany. Upstairs on the mezzanine, customers can discover ArriviamoTM Bar – where mixologists are on hand to create specialty cocktails behind a 10m-long marble bar carved from a single block of Calacatta Macchia Vecchia. And finally, to the left, customers will see upon entering a Princi Bakery, complete with a wood-fired oven, built brick by brick, onsite by hand using a crew of masons and artisans.
'We have spent the past year living and breathing the city of Milan, working closely with dozens of local artisans to bring to life our most beautiful retail experience that engages each one of our customers’ senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and of course, taste,' says Liz Muller, chief design officer, Starbucks. '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.'
Throughout the Roastery, the physical retail environment is complemented by an interactive augmented reality (AR) experience, encouraging customers to use their mobile device to uncover 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.
Outside on the building’s terrace, customers can enjoy the full range of Roastery coffees, cocktails and cuisine in a distinctly European environment – that of a street-side café. Also adorning the Roastery’s portico is a striking statue of a siren – the symbol of Starbucks steeped in classical lore – completely hand-carved in Carrara marble by Tuscan sculptor Giovanni Balderi.
In 2016, Starbucks announced a strategic partnership with Italian baker Rocco Princi, making his artisanal, freshly baked food the exclusive pairing to the company’s premium Reserve brand. The Princi Bakery in the Milan Roastery is anchored by a wood-fired oven made using an ancient technique, with a unique method of radiating heat using fire, creating Rocco Princi’s ultimate tool for making bread the way it’s meant to be done. The facing is a rough-cut Porfido Giallo, sourced nearby in the Lombardy region. In this area guests can also see the dough being made from the finest flour and water, a view of the whole process that is similar to the coffee journey on display elsewhere in the Roastery. Items baked in the Princi Bakery will be available both here and throughout the Roastery for customers looking to pair their coffee with the perfect bite – be it savory or sweet.
Inspired by the Italian aperitivo – social cocktails paired with small delicacies in the early evening hours – the Milan Roastery will be the first Starbucks location to feature an Arriviamo Bar. Located on the mezzanine at the top of a sweeping staircase, Arriviamo is a destination for a carefully crafted cocktail or special coffee service. In addition to serving aperitivo in the evening, customers can also enjoy coffee on the mezzanine – all while observing the Roastery and manufacturing experience from a new vantage point up above.