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Starbucks Opening in Italy

The BBC is reporting that Starbucks is planning to open its first store in Italy. Should be interesting to see the response from Italians. Personally, I would not drop in unless in need of a bathroom break--the other caffe options are just too good.

Posted by
8293 posts

There is a Starbucks kitty corner across from my apartment building. I have never been in it and It would be a Frosty Friday that would see me going into one in Italy. However, I predict they will do well! Sadly.

Posted by
3811 posts

My husband would like it - he doesn't like anything other than your basic filter coffee with cream/sugar - he had a hard time getting plain old coffee in Italy (and no, Café Americano or whatever people say to order when they want American style coffee just wasn't working for him - too strong). He doesn't do lattes or cappuccinos...I don't do coffee period, but I love the caramel apple spice at Starbucks!

Posted by
4080 posts

Starbucks does great business here in Vienna, despite the UNESCO Heritage Coffee House Culture designation.

Posted by
1108 posts

We have enjoyed dropping into Starbucks in various countries to collect the small espresso cups with the country etchings around the cups. I am drinking my morning coffee in one right now.

This is the only reason to visit an "American" business when one is overseas !

Posted by
23592 posts

From the article -

The chain now has 22,000 outlets in 67 countries.

and now from me - and yet somehow manages to never make a profit so that no taxes are due....

Posted by
8293 posts

That alone is reason to never go into a Starbucks.

Posted by
5504 posts

Reminds me of an old Herb Caen (SF Chronicle) column where an American in Tokyo ordered a beer. Waiter asked if he preferred local or imported. Out of reflex he ordered "imported" and got a Bud. Oh the prestige of ordering something "foreign".

Posted by
544 posts

I hope they are building very large cafés. A/C, comfy seating, free wi-fi, and clean free WCs will probably be extremely popular.

Posted by
3283 posts

I wonder if the mermaid logo will get oversized designer sunglasses to fit in?

Posted by
12104 posts

I heard that news too on the radio. Starbucks has the reputation of setting themselves up in high rent neighborhoods/streets in Germany. Presumably, they'll do likewise in Italy. I remember when two opened up in Berlin, ca. 2-3 from mins. apart on Unter den Linden and close to Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse within two years. I was at that spot in the summer of 2001...no Starbucks, went back in the summer of 2003, both Starbucks had popped up. I tried Starbucks only once (in Berlin), the daily coffee is not the same as one gets here, ie, no business from me in Europe.

Posted by
7693 posts

I know many are appalled but for those of us who don't/can't use dairy it's sometimes the only option to get a coffee with soy milk. Yes, I worshipped at the shrine of the Blessed Mermaid when I was in Paris but that soy latte tasted so good!

Posted by
2525 posts

If Starbucks has a good business model (location, products, employment practices) it may do well. If not, it will close. I am always amazed at long to very long lines often seen when waking by American fast food operations in Europe. Are all those customers from America?

Posted by
11970 posts

There is no reason why they can't be successful in Italy, provided that they hire an experienced barista who knows what s/he is doing and offer a decent service at competitive prices.

QUALITY OF PRODUCT: If the quality of espresso or cappuccino or caffe-latte is the same as I see in Starbucks in America, they will get only American tourist customers, because Italians will not drink that crap. If they also try to put it in a paper cup, Italians will walk out without paying.

QUALITY OF SERVICE: When I go to Starbucks in the US there I often I have to wait in line a long time to get that lousy espresso. There is no way Italians will stand in line more than 20 seconds before they get their espresso or cappuccino, I don't care how good it is. I'm sure all of you have seen how quickly you get served an espresso or cappuccino in an Italian bar. I don't think I've ever waited more than 20 seconds. If the wait is like I experience in America, with lines sometimes outside the doors, Italians will not wait, they'll simply go to the bar across the street.

COMPETITIVE PRICES: Starbucks will not be able to sell espresso and cappuccino at the extortion prices they charge in America. The average price of coffee beverages at the counter, according to a 2015 survey by the industry association (FIPE), in major Italian cities is under 1€ for espresso and about 1.03€-1.46€ for cappuccino. I want to see how many customers they'll get if they start charging what they charge on this side of the Atlantic.

Offering free wi-fi and letting patrons stay there for hours without ordering anything would help, but I don't know that would fly in Italy, especially in busy tourist areas.

Posted by
5504 posts

If Starbucks has a good business model....

It will be interesting to follow the Starbucks penetration into Italy. Will they position Starbucks Italy as North American (foreign) or as Italian/European (domestic)?

Yum Brands succeeded with KFC in China because they positioned KFC as an upscale Chinese restaurant, modifying product to appeal to the newly affluent Chinese taste - exotic American while appealing to the Chinese palate.

Posted by
8906 posts

Yum Brands succeeded with KFC in China because they positioned KFC as
an upscale Chinese restaurant

That's not my experience with KFCs in China; in fact it was the opposite. They don't even sell actual fried chicken as the locals can't afford it, instead simple chicken sandwiches and small kebabs.

Posted by
11575 posts

We never go to Starbucks here but ended up at one very close to our hotel in Paris almost every morning 'cause we could get that big take-away cup to hit the streets with. It was bustling with Parisians doing the same thing on their way to work! Interestingly, the coffee was much better than Starbucks here, which has sort of an over-roasted, burnt taste.

But I'll always rest my tired toes in Italy with a china cup at an outdoor table. :O)

Posted by
5443 posts

They can't position Starbucks in Italy as European/domestic. It's SO American. Italians know their own coffee culture and are going to recognize an interloper!

As someone mentioned above about their husband, I had a friend visiting a couple of weekends ago whom I wished I could have taken to Starbucks (there aren't any in my part of town). She wanted that big American coffee with part-skim and that just wasn't happening at my corner café. I don't drink coffee (except rarely some froofy cappuccino or marocchino if I'm in Turin), so I don't even know how to order a basic coffee for her. I would have taken her to Starbucks in a heart beat!! (She also wanted a walking-around coffee, etc. etc.).

Posted by
6 posts

This is selling a Yugo in a mercedez benz dealership. I would NEVER go to starbucks in Italy. I hardly go in the states, unless it's part of a group outing. No thanks. We use our Gaggia. FYI. The starbucks "baristas" don't even pull the espresso. They simply press a button and out it comes. They are not baristas at all. no technique. no art. no flavor.

Posted by
11613 posts

Pam, I find many coffee bars in Italy have soy milk, you just ask for it.

Will an Italian barista in a Starbucks hand someone a glass of milk when they order a "latte"?

Posted by
1239 posts

From the article -
The chain now has 22,000 outlets in 67 countries.
and now from me - and yet somehow manages to never make a profit so that no taxes are due....

One of the many reasons I avoid. The only time I buy a Starbucks is on the ferry over to Northern Ireland, and only then if I need a hot caffeine hit for the journey home or the journey further south in Ireland.

Posted by
6047 posts

Why does everyone hate Starbucks? I don't drink coffee, designer or otherwise, but I don't see what so many people have against them. Millions of other people love them. What's the deal?

Posted by
23592 posts

Near my house a new small shopping centre opened recently, consisting of a large Lidl, a large McDonalds with 2 drive thru kiosks, a medium sized Subway and a Starbucks.

My observations - the car park is always full.

Most of the tables in the McDonalds are full most of the time and the 4 big screen ordering kiosks inside are always much busier than the walk up counter or the drive thrus. It is new concept - all the food is cooked to order and delivered to the table. The tables have charger facilities for different phones and tablets.

The Lidl is always busy, with a new concept of always opening a new till if more than 3 people are in the check out queues.

The Subway does a steady business around meal times and football.

I have never seen anybody - not a single one - go into or out of the Starbucks. The lights are on - they are always on - but nobody is home.

Posted by
5817 posts

I'm so glad none of you will lower your selves to visit a branch of Starbucks, it leaves more room for me.

I'm certainly not a huge fan of their's, and rarely visit in the UK, but sometimes when you are travelling you just want something familiar. You want to be able to easily order something and know what you are going to get. I don't want to worry about making some huge faux pas or get attitude from the person beside the counter because I have done something "touristy" and "wrong". A decent toilet is a nice additional benefit.

I am an adventurous eater and will try anything once but I just want that first coffee of the day to be how I like it, "authentic" or not. I'm writing this in a foreign hotel room on a work trip and have politely drunk all the awful(in my opinion) coffee I have been served all day. I cannot wait to get home to make it how I like it.

And Starbucks toasted fruit bread with loads of melted butter is bl**dy delicious......

Posted by
23592 posts

I don't hate them - although their (and Amazon and Google) tax ideas upset me, but I much prefer Nero or local. When over the water I drink local by preference, especially in Austria or Italy.

Posted by
1239 posts

On various holidays McDonald's has been a life saver. As have others of the type. My main issue with Starbucks is I don't like the taste, but secondly the feeling the business is about making money, not coffee.

Now that is the purpose of McDonald's, of Burger King, of any other convenience dining stores, well most businesses out there in most sectors. It is just, for me with Starbucks this feels more blatant. The veneer of caring about the product just, for me, is not there with Starbucks.

Posted by
5817 posts

MC I also don't like the flavour of their coffee hence I rarely visit in the UK ( except for a fruit bread fix!)

I have never had the impression that they don't care about their product. A friend of mine worked for them developing food lines ( basically eating cake for a living!) and from what I could tell they did care.
She learnt very quickly to not say who she worked for when asked socially. Not because she was ashamed of it ( this was before the race issue came out) but because everyone had an opinion and insisted in telling her. No escape from the day job.

I actually find the spread of Costa coffee more upsetting in the UK. You can't escape them. On every high street and they seem to have the contract for all coffee in government offices and for the NHS. There product is as bad/good as Starbucks.

Posted by
1239 posts

Emma, I fully agree they probably do care. I just get this feeling they don't. And it has nothing to do with being a Costa shareholder! Honest! I just have never felt comfortable in a Starbucks for some reason and would choose McD over them.

That said the best coffees I have had have been at Ferrovarie dello Stato in Siena, and the small cafe in a corner of a shopping centre in Troyes in France.

Posted by
362 posts

On the (rare) upside...........given that Starbucks is a company with an excellent corporate reputation (employee relations, philanthropy, etc), maybe they will actually pay the Italian taxes. Businesses and citizens who evade the tax system is a major problem in Italy, one of several reasons the country has no money and things are falling apart there, from historic sites to basic services.

Posted by
5817 posts

Unfortunately Susan one of the reasons Starbucks is unpopular in the UK is that they manage to get out of paying LOTS of tax. Nothing illegal just very good lawyers and accountants.
I doubt it will be any different in Italy.

Posted by
11681 posts

I do not drink coffee, but I have been known to step into a Starbucks in London on a hot day for an iced tea that is not sweetened. The bottled stuff all comes with sugar. My husband is the coffee drinker and won't touch a Starbucks unless we are on the road in the US. Then he gets a Flat White. In London it is Caffe Nero for him.

The company gets good marks in the US for the way they treat their employees--good health benefits, adoption assistance ( up to $4000), commuter benefits, and full college tuition for juniors and seniors ( freshman and sophomores get partial scholarships).

Mr. Schultz has a pretty good record on philanthropy,including a $30 million foundation to aid US war veterans. We did see him at an International Rescue Committee fund-raiser a few years ago, but I don't know how much he contributed.

Posted by
11970 posts

Well, Haagen Dasz opened an ice-cream shop in Florence years ago, on Via Vacchereccia of all places (basically Piazza Signoria) across from Rivoire. I remember seeing nobody inside while i was in Florence those couple of weeks, not even American tourists. It was empty all the time (why would you go to Haagen Dasz while in Florence, the gelato capital. The next summer, when I went back to Florence they had closed down. They currently have no shops in Italy, although they have an Italian website, so they probably sell their products in some stores.

My take is that if you are an American going to open a sushi restaurant in Tokyo, you'd better know what you are doing, or you won't succeed, because the competition will eat you alive.

So either Starbucks shops in Italy serve good espresso drinks the Italian way at Italian prices, or they have to market totally different products/services that aren't available there and therefore have no competition (like McDonald's did).

The espresso drink products have a lot of competition in Italy, and the way Starbucks prepares them would not sell to Italians and I doubt American tourists alone could keep them afloat. There aren't enough American tourists in winter, and many wouldn't bother anyway.

Posted by
30971 posts

I agree, there goes the neighborhood. I've patronized Starbucks in various parts of Europe in the past as they were convenient at the time I wanted a coffee. I tend to prefer the local places, as I don't really care for the "full city roast". When I was in Vienna last fall, I used the Starbucks across from the Opera a few times as it was close to my hotel, but it was hard to get in there at times, especially in the evenings. If I see a long queue, I just keep on walking and go somewhere else.

I suspect it's going to be somewhat of a challenge for Starbucks to establish themselves in Italy. It's doubtful I'll ever use them as I much prefer the type of coffee that the Italians serve. Visiting local coffee houses is one of the things I enjoy most about travelling in Italy, and Starbucks just won't be the same experience.

This apparently won't be happening until 2017, when the first restaurant opens in Milan. Starbucks will be working with Percassi as the Italian licensee, a firm that was founded by an Italian football player. As with other North American restaurants in Europe, I suspect they'll customize the operations to fit local preferences. As the licensee will be Italian, presumably they will have some idea how to tailor these to appeal to Italians.

Posted by
12104 posts

True, we shall see how Starbucks is received in Italy over a period of time. I recall when Starbucks was introduced in France (2002 ?) that made the news on CNN as to how the French with their taste for coffee would react. I go to Starbucks occasionally here but certainly not in Europe period.

Posted by
87 posts

I'm in complete agreement with Emma regarding the comfort of knowing what to expect, lack of snobbery (real or imagined), etc. I travel a LOT, both domestically and abroad, and don't choose Starbucks when I know of a local place that makes coffee the way I like it - but that's often not the case, especially when I'm in a hurry - it takes time to find that place, and when I travel for work, time is often not available. And there is something reassuring about staggering off a plane 7 or 17 time zones away, and being able to go to the Starbucks and easily get some tolerable, live-giving, brain cell-starting caffeine so I can (a) think of the basic language skills to order local coffee and (b) endure the confusion, judgment, and often impatience of the local barista when we don't understand each other.

By the way, how would I order something approaching my preference in Italy? I don't care if it's pour-over, press/plunger, or drip but I like a dark roast coffee with half-and-half (or something heavier than milk, at any rate).

I hope Starbucks in the US never catches on to the fruit toast available in their European outlets - I'll have to love there.

Posted by
11681 posts

So what is fruit toast? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by
1154 posts

I am fairly confident that Starbucks will open and keep open a few coffee shops in central locations of tourist places - but they will not be able to compete with the vicinity bar, that on a average day serves 175 coffee cups at an average price of eur 0,96, and doubles as a meeting place, often selling cigarettes, bus tickets, stamps as well and can be used to pay small taxes or to place bets on sporting events. I do not believe it is a quality problem - in most places coffee quality is not so high as people thinks; Starbucks is a different model, its prices are much higher, service is much slower and they will be addressing a different segment.

Posted by
5817 posts

Toasted fruit bread or fruit toast is similar to a hot cross bun but without the spices and served in slices from a larger loaf.
Basically quite a plain bread dough scattered with dried fruit. You can eat it cold but it is best to toasted and buttered.
The Starbucks version is good because they are individually baked to be split so you have 2 crust slices, the better to hold the butter.

Normal fruit bread loaves are sold in all UK supermarkets. If you want a regional speciality in Wales they traditionally serve "bara brith" or "speckled bread".
Another good one to try is malt loaf, a very sticky version, kind of like a combination of fruit bread and fruit cake.

Posted by
11575 posts

The inspiration for creating places for people to gather socially over coffee came from Howard Schultz's trip to Milan. It's a story that has been oft repeated in company lore:

http://www.lifeinitaly.com/lifestyle/starbucks-in-italy

Granted, it was American-ized with larger sizes, both paper and ceramic cups, different roasts, etc. but the idea of a comfortable, familiar destination for friends and family - of all ages - to enjoy came from Italy. Brand aside, I remember when coffee shops as a genre really didn't exist so they're been a go-to boon for everyone from seniors to young mothers to students to read, work, study, gather for regular discussion groups or just grab some better-than-convenience-store joe for the morning commute.

Our corner coffee shop (not a Starbucks but not an indie either) is busy ALL the time, and is our weekend destination for a cuppa and read of the paper. I'll also head over with my laptop on long, dark winter days when the walls start closing in! Anyway, the diversity of ages and stages is fun, and I've met any number of interesting people there.

Posted by
11970 posts

I'm sure they will open in very central tourist locations where they can count on a steady stream of foreign tourists who will go there simply because a lot of people like to go to familiar places which make people feel they are still at home. That is the main feature of all franchise models. Basically the exact same thing whether you are in Milan, New York, Sydney, London or Shanghai. As I mentioned, to attract Italians they will either have to adapt to local standards or offer something totally different. No Italian patron will be willing to stand in line 15 minutes to order an espresso for twice the price they can get at any bar in 15 seconds, even if the quality is as good as the competition. But if an Italian wants to order a Chai caramel frappuccino with whipped cream on top in a 1/2 liter paper cup, I guess that is where they will go, since that product will not be available anywhere else.

Posted by
6047 posts

"But if an Italian wants to order a Chai caramel frappuccino with whipped cream on top in a 1/2 liter paper cup, I guess that is where they will go, since that product will not be available anywhere else."

Exactly. I think that Starbucks (just like McDonalds) will do better being different than the local coffee places, rather than trying to compete with the same product as Roberto notes. So, don't count them out in Italy just yet. They'll probably do well at first, even maybe get some locals in, but after the newness wears off - who knows.

After reading the first few responses to this post I really was sure that everyone hated Starbucks and was curious as to why. Now I have my answer: everyone doesn't hate them, they have their fans and supporters as well as their detractors, much like anything else. Ah, and the world continues to spin.

Posted by
840 posts

"...French and their taste for coffee..."

They opened a Paul two blocks from my office. I turned the cup around one day and the sleeve had "Lavazza" printed on it in small letters. Am not sure if this is just in the U.S. ? Born in Lille but proudly sporting an Italian brand? :) I'd rather go to Pret, Paul or a local to get my $1.75 drip or cappuccino--Starbucks is too bitter for me.

So will all the online daters in France now meet at Starbucks for their first in-person dates? That's the real question!

Posted by
407 posts

I just read about this disgusting revelation on Facebook. Hopefully, the Italian people boycott it...and let the developer who is in cahoots with Starbucks what they think of him too. Viva l'Italia!

Posted by
818 posts

There would be room for Starbucks and local coffees in my day if I was staying near a Starbucks in Italy. Starbucks when I want a quick, big coffee to go or when I am craving a certain flavor, and local coffee when I want to sit and people watch.

Posted by
785 posts

This board attracts primarily independent-thinking, local-culture-loving types. You vastly underestimate the herd mentality of many teen and twenty-ish (and, unfortunately, older) who will find this to be the greatest thing since sliced fruit toast.

It is American, and comes in a VENTI (maybe they'll just call it an extra large there...you know, to make it exotic...) and in a TO-GO CUP so you can walk around with it so all your friends know how cool you are because you go to Starbucks! And they won't be drinking a black coffee, but a mocha-breve-frappe-with extra caramel which surely costs $5.95. A hundred of those a day and paying rent won't be a problem.

Posted by
6047 posts

Why would the Italian people boycott a new business just because of it's name? I don't think they boycotted McDonalds and any of the other businesses 'imported' from other countries, usually the US.

Posted by
5817 posts

I think in this particular forum post the "independent" thinking relates to people who aren't automatically rejecting something because it's not "authentically Italian".

Who knows the coffee in an Italian Starbucks might actually be quite good, but how will you know if you automatically reject something without trying it?

Posted by
11613 posts

Actually the first McDonald's in Roma was very controversial. They now go to great lengths to advertise that their beef comes from Italy (or maybe EU).

Posted by
2229 posts

"Disgusting"

Jeepers! That seems a little strong.

I'd be the first to agree that their espresso tends to the bitter side, but it's remarkably consistent, and for $1.75 for a double (or how you say doppio) it works in a pinch. It'll probably be cheaper in Italy. I do prefer my home brew though, at home.

We can't put the genie back in the bottle; it's a global economy and all this big U.S. company = evil stuff is just over the top, imho.

Posted by
11970 posts

I think the price of espresso and cappuccino "al banco" (at the counter) may still required to be within the price guidelines established by the local chapters of FIPE, or Federazione Italiana Pubblici Esercenti, a branch of ConfCommercio. That is why prices in every city for espresso at the counter is very uniform everywhere. So I don't think they'll be able to charge 2 or 3€ for an espresso, unless is served at the table (those can be stratospheric, since are not regulated).

Besides, even if they could and did, they would be priced out by the competition. Italians would not pay for espresso more than they pay for a newspaper (traditionally the two prices have always been exactly the same).

In terms of quality, I'm sure they can match the local product, because the wholesale distributors will be the same and Starbucks can certainly afford to hire the most experienced and qualified certified local baristas, rather than the clueless youngsters they hire in America at just above minimum wage.

But I also think they'll try to sell a different type of experience, not just the classic espresso cup Italians get at the local bar. Italy does not have many of the beverages served at Starbucks, other than those classic Italian beverages they will certainly replicate at the same local standards of quality (espresso, cappuccino, caffe'-latte, and Americano). In Italy there is no Frappuccino, or Chai or Moka (although I think the Moka might be similar to the Marocchino). They'll probably try to market those and distinguish themselves from the local competition. Offering free wi-fi will be a plus too.

Posted by
11613 posts

Starbuck's prices elsewhere in Europe (Germany, France, Belgium) are as high as in the US, so I don't think that would change in Italy. Major train stations in those countries have two, three or four coffe-to-go (or stay) shops, almost in a row, with identical pricing.

Still in shock.

Posted by
11970 posts

Zoe
Pricing is affected by competition. You can charge the exorbitant American prices for espresso and cappuccino in places where there is no competition. It's a different story in Italy where there is an coffee bar serving espresso and cappuccino every 50mt (150ft). Also, as I said earlier, I think cappuccino and espresso pricing (at the counter) is still regulated in Italy (it was when I lived there), therefore they may not be able to charge whatever they want.

Posted by
11613 posts

Roberto, true, but I was thinking of locations in transitional places, like train stations, with product choices (and sizes) outside the normal Italian ones. On my last visit to Berlin, I thought, "why is everyone carrying a coffee cup on the street?"

As I understand it, a standup espresso is under 1 euro everywhere in Italy.

Posted by
5258 posts

I understand globalization. Plain and simple, when I travel I don't want to see Starbucks or Mickey D's. I travel to experience cultural differences not what I can find around the block from my home. It annoys me. Loved the fact that Italy remained Starbucks free continuing to show pride in their wonderful expressos. Why does every country want to be like the United States? For gawd sakes Starbucks is overpriced, beans are burnt, Mickey D's contributes to an unhealthy fast food diet and this is what other countries want? I don't get it.
Never will. Kind of like the Rue Cler neighborhood. Before it became Rick's favorite it was reflective of a quiet Parisian neighborhood. Now, IMHO it charmless and boring.

Posted by
6047 posts

The price of progress. It's hard for any country to say: I want to modernize and be progressive in some cases, but in others I want to remain quaint and traditional. Just like it's hard to say: I want to survive on tourism, but I don't want to spoil things with crowds of tourists. Somehow it just doesn't work out that way.

Posted by
5443 posts

The point is not that Starbucks shouldn't expand wherever the heck it wants overseas, or that other American brands haven't done so and been successful, but that the Italian market and Italian relationship with coffee is different than the other places they've opened.

The French aren't known for having good coffee (my Italian husband won't drink it here unless he sees an Illy or Lavazza sign and takes a look at the machine and thinks that people know what they're doing). Italians are incredibly particular about their coffee, and I just don't think that they'll want very much of what Starbucks has to offer.

Posted by
2229 posts

"I understand globalization. Plain and simple, when I travel I don't want to see Starbucks or Mickey D's."

I completely understand where you are coming from Claudia, and agree, however these statements are simply at odds with each other in the world today. I do trust that Italians will continue to make great espresso, however, for better or worse, Starbucks is now part of Italian culture-they're just the newest member.

Posted by
11970 posts

Well, Eataly has come to the US too (at least NYC and Chicago) and espresso/cappuccino culture (which is certainly Italian) has now become part of American culture. So it goes both ways. Cultures influence one another in all directions, I don't think American food culture is dominant. Arugula, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, pizza, pasta, etc. weren't traditional dishes of Texas.

And it's not that one Starbucks, or even more, is going to put Italian shops out of business. If I think about it, in the city center of Florence there are only 2 McDonalds, 1 Burger King, and 1 Subway. Plus there are a couple of more out of the city center. Not really catastrophic for a city of 400,000 people. Even Rome, which has a population (and tourist presence) by the millions has only a handful of such places in the historical center plus a few more in the outskirts. Overall I don't think Italians have subscribed to the American fast food culture en masse. There are more fast food places in my town of 200,000 than in Rome.

Posted by
5817 posts

Whilst to many people on this site the idea of the spread of chains like Starbucks and Macdonalds etc across the world might seem wrong it might be helpful to see it from the other side.

To some people in Europe, especially the young, what you think of as mundane and boring might be new, different and potentially exciting. Rightly or wrongly American media dominates. Your lifestyles, brands etc are fed directly into our homes. A generation was brought up watching Friends people drink coffee at central perk. It was an unachievable lifestyle ( seriously who could afford Monica's apartment!) but it's an attractive one!
My nephews ( Ok and their aunt....) have a slight obsession with TV series like Man vs Food, Diners, Drive ins and Dives and Cake Boss. To them the most ordinary diner or coffee shop seems exotic and exciting.( before I die I WILL try biscuits and gravy!)

So don't judge people who are attracted to things that don't fit your idea of what is properly European.
Europe is not "set in aspic", cultures adapt. I have no idea whether Starbucks will take off in Italy but if it does it won't be the end of the world and might just show that locals are more adaptable to change than you are.

Ps as well as eating biscuits and gravy my other main ambition in life is to visit a Target store. Now that looks exciting!

Posted by
6047 posts

Emma, well said. You are right about things that we're used to being mundane and boring to us while being new and exciting to those in other countries. Target, exciting? Yikes! It's just a discount dept store (a step up from WalMart) carrying a bit of everything, much like the Tesco or Monoprix stores in Europe.

Posted by
5817 posts

But Nancy according to the Internet Target has exciting diffusion ranges! ;-)
In recent months I have also become increasingly intrigued by the idea of Trader Joes.

I have agreed with a good friend that next time we do a road trip in the US we are going to spend more time in the supermarkets, performing thorough retail research and therapy. You would not believe how much time we spent in Duane Read the last time we were in New York!

You may love a true Italian espresso but I want access to goldfish crackers and peanut butter M and Ms

Posted by
3811 posts

Slow clap for Emma!

As for target, they tried to open a whole lot of stores here in Canada and failed dismally and shut down within two years. Not really the brand so much as a very poor roll out and issues with stocking shelves. I read an article about the failed opening in Canada in MacLeans magazine and it was interesting to see what went wrong. I believe I darkened the doors of target twice (but the closest store was an hour away) and it didn't strike me as any different from Walmart.

I did hit the asda and Primark stores when visiting my sister in the UK. Meh. But then again, I mostly avoid the Walmart here at home unless absolutely necessary. On the flip side, when we go to the US, we always hit a Walmart super centre and go nuts in the food aisles buying all the different foods they don't sell here in Canada.

But...three cheers for Dartmouth...we're getting a huge new ikea opening summer 2017...now there is a store I am excited to go to! Never been in one. Closet we came to one was when we were in Southampton, but I'm not gonna go to an ikea when I'm only travelling with a carry on. As for food places, people knock Olive Garden all the time and we finally ate at one last year when we went to the states. I'm not even sure where the nearest one is to us...probably the one we ate at in Maine! There are none in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. And you know what? I liked it! Maybe because we got so much food for a good price. And we were really really hungry. But imagine a lot of Americans thinking someone would get excited about Olive Garden! Same goes for Starbucks I guess. :)

Posted by
6047 posts

Ah Emma, now Trader Joes that's a different story. Trader Joes is special. The opening of a new Trader Joes is always exciting for people that have not had the experience before. I lived in Minneapolis when they opened the first one there and it was mobbed on opening weekend and the same goes for when they finally got one in Colorado Springs, long lines waiting for it to open it's doors. I'm not sure what it is about them but it's on my list of favorite places to shop - go there at least once a week. The only supermarkets I get more excited about are Whole Foods and Fred Meyer. I agree with you about the fun of visiting different supermarkets than what you're used to and seeing all the different foods and products you don't have access to normally. I always visit a few on my trips and always find things that I wish I could get here in US.

Posted by
3811 posts

...then again, I went into a Trader Joes when we were in the US and wasn't overly impressed. ;) Still haven't hit a Whole Foods - someday perhaps - but after hearing about the prices, I may just give it a miss.

But I do love going into supermarkets when travelling - in Italy we went into ones in Rome and Venice as we were staying in apartments - love seeing the different foods and trying to figure out what stuff was.

Posted by
818 posts

Oh Emma, no biscuits and gravy, Target or peanut butter m&ms! Biscuits and gravy and peanut butter m&ms are nice treats, and if I didn't have a Target a mile up th to road...well, I might be able to travel to Europe more often. That store convinces me I need things I don't. And they have a Starbucks inside. :). Anyway, things do go both ways. I remember a few years ago I took my mother to Germany and she was so surprised that they had Aldi, too. I had to tell her Aldi came from Germany. And recently St. Louis finally got an IKEA. I wonder if on travel boards in other countries people spend time complaining about IKEAs in the US.

Posted by
11970 posts

TJ's is where I shop (have one near work and is convenient). Prices have gone up in recent years but are still very reasonable compared to most places (certainly cheaper than Safeway or other grocery stores around here). But TJ's has been owned by a German family for almost 50 years, so it has a European feel to it.

Whole Foods is nice too, but the name should be changed to "Whole Paycheck".

Posted by
87 posts

Again, I agree with Emma - one of the reasons I so love going abroad is experiencing the everyday life of people who live differently from me. And that which is everyday and ordinary to the locals is interesting, enlightening, and educating to me - not to mention, often very entertaining. I like surveying the aisles in the grocery store or department store to see what people buy, what sizes, what's available (and isn't), how it's presented. I've been puzzled and astounded by the large, varied inventory of bacon in an otherwise tiny NZ supermarket and laughed like crazy over cans of Gulf (oil) branded shave cream stocked next to skillets in the Danish equivalent of Walmart. And, don't get me started on hardware and office supply stores.

Posted by
11613 posts

Trader Joe's - I will drive over an hour to get to the nearest one!

Posted by
11575 posts

TJs! I am addicted to their "Contemplates Inner Peas" crunchy snack peapods. YUM!

Posted by
4822 posts

I could not get through all of the responses, but I am in the camp that this is not a sign of the apocalypse and I suspect that Starbucks will do well in Italy, providing the poor economy in Italy doesn't sink it.

First, Starbucks does alter it's offerings for the country it is in as well as adjusts pricing for the economy. I was in Spain last week, the drinks were a euro or two cheaper than in the US, they offered no brewed coffee, but Americano made with espresso instead. The Place was busy all day, I was staying nearby so had the chance to observe, with the main attractions being getting a larger serving size, and getting what I consider to be the sweet drinks...a latte loaded with syrups and caramel and then all of the cold drinks (Frapawhatever). Most of the clientele was younger, and to be honest, what Starbucks was selling was not available at the local coffee places, I suspect Italy will be much the same.

I did go there once, I just needed a big cup of coffee to go on my way to a meeting. I do enjoy going to the smaller local places for a quick shot, or to linger a bit, but sometimes I need more than a small espresso or 8 ounces of latte to get through the morning.

Posted by
11970 posts

I suspect the 'Latte' will have to be called with the full name 'Caffe-latte' in Italy, or you'll just get a glass of milk.

Posted by
10 posts

If I was a coffee drinker going to a chain like Starbucks in Italy would make no sense to me. My friends and family rave about the espresso, cappuccino, available everywhere and I have to fight the urge (reformed coffee drinker) as I pass by endless local places .
But alas I am a tea drinker..early grey especially.
When I am traveling I want the local experiences,places , food, and drink and I seek them out out .
But... A few years back having walked for miles and miles,tired, thirsty and in need of some quick pick me up tea to drink and to take back to my hotel room, I stumbled upon a cafe ....Oh no.#%$&!. it was a Starbucks.. not at all what I was looking for. That little voice popped up... I am not supposed to do that. It is Paris.. I couldn't go to Starbucks. Being so tired my resistance faded and I succumbed after much angst . I would have to deal with the guilt later I told myself. How would I explain this to friends and family???
Well, the tea was full bodied, and tasty and the place as full of French speakers obviously enjoying themselves which surprised me.
Since then I have found that the earl grey tea at Starbucks is better and more easily available for take away than others I have found in many places in Europe . Is it the best of the best? No. The tea I buy for home is indeed better. If I am walking by one when I am in need of a lift I don't hesitate and I no longer keep it an embarrassing secret. Then again I am not a coffee drinker so what do I know ?

Posted by
3389 posts

I've been at a Starbucks in Paris & Vienna - Paris because I could pick up a packaged salad and head to a park, Vienna because the location was perfect to enjoy a coffee (with soy not milk) outdoors near the Hapsburg Palace and a 2nd one mainly because we needed a toilet. Glad that we have options for both needs!

Posted by
1878 posts

I don't have a problem with Starbucks opening in Italy. It would be a shame if American chains were on every street corner, and I'm not crazy about the fact that there is a McDonald's directly across from the Pantheon in Rome (or used to be when I was there in 2007). Sometimes a cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee, and needn't be a cultural experience. I would not go to Europe and seek out all the American chains to insulate myself from local experiences, but I am not dogmatic about avoiding these chains either. Sometimes there is comfort in familiarity. My biggest issue with Starbucks is the environmental impact of so many disposable cups, not cultural imperialism. If you want ice in Vienna, it turns out Starbucks is one of the few places that can help you out with that. It's not remotely the case that only tourists are at Starbucks in places like Paris—for Europeans maybe it has the cachet of being foreign. People are willing to pay a premium for anything perceived to have a cool factor going for it, including warm fuzzy human factors thing (think Apple). People around the world admire what they perceive as American culture, as much as those of us on this board are fascinated with European cultures. The irony of course is that big corporations like Starbucks are really transnational in their ownership—their brands may be "American" but arguably corporations do not have a nationality in the modern world economy. When we were in Prague in 2011, it was great to catch a quick sandwich at the Subway near the Mucha Museum. After many days of Czech food it was a welcome break and the locals seemed to love Subway too. Also went to Subway in Salisbury on our 2013 England trip and it was tasty and reliable. Have to hand it to Subway how consistent they are in different geographies.

Posted by
11970 posts

It would be nice if European chains invaded the US as well. I know we have Eataly in NYC or Chicago, but it would be nice to have a Coop supermarket near here.

Posted by
5817 posts

A number of UK brands have tried Roberto and all have failed. Tesco, laura Ashley and marks and spencer. One that is apparently doing quite well is Boden, but I think they only offer mail order not stores.

It's a good point about the actual ownership of many of these international chains. I know macdonalds and subway largely operate a franchise model internationally, so if you visit them you are technically supporting a local business. I don't know what the situation is with Starbucks.

We do have a couple of Whole Foods in London but the prices for most items are hilariously high. The kind of place to pop into for an occasional treat.

For any Aldi shoppers out there, there jam, chocolate and continental sausages are the best ( not on the same plate unless particularly hung over) and they had a dangerously good prosecco promotion at Christmas.

Posted by
8906 posts

It would be nice if European chains invaded the US as well.

They have already invaded. To name a few: Aldi, Lidl (coming soon), Ahold, Delhaize, H&M, Cos, Vapiano, Ikea, Zara, Sephora, Mango, French Connection, Top Shop.

Posted by
4 posts

I definitely prefer to support local/small/family outfits, but will also be unapologetic about heading down to Starbucks for a big watered down drip coffee when I have jet lag because it's nice to have a warm drinks/some comforts whilst I'm getting my head screwed on right ;)

Global economy, there's room for everyone.

Posted by
12104 posts

In that case I have seen Ikea and H&M, none of the others in the SF Bay Area, not yet anyway.

Posted by
1737 posts

Who cares? I refuse to eat at any American based establishment when I'm in Europe. No Dominos, McD's, Burger King, KFC. Why would I? I'm in Europe to enjoy the local foods....