Go to any bar (cafe) in Italy on any morning, any day of the week or year, and you will find yourself immersed in a wonderful and quintessentially Italian experience: the ritual of the morning coffee. Men and women, getting ready to start the day, standing at the counter, ordering espresso in varying forms, perhaps eating a cornetto here and there (con crema, marmelata or vuoto depending on one’s preference), maybe chatting to one another or maybe on their phone, while the barista on the other side confidently and expertly goes through the motions that result in some of the best cups of coffee in the world.
You can find great coffee anywhere in Italy, from big cities to rural villages, at airports (even the vending machines have better coffee than some countries), at train stations, and at autostops along the highways — not your average gas station coffee, to say the least.
But now Starbucks, the mammoth coffee company founded in Seattle in 1971, is coming to town. The chain recently announced that the first Milan location will open September 2018 in a 25,000-square-foot historic post office building near the city’s iconic Duomo — and the news has reignited the fury of Italians everywhere. The Local Italy (an Italian branch of the English-language news network) noted that the latest caffeine-fueled uproar has caused fans of Italian coffee everywhere to take to Twitter, quickly making the new Starbucks the most discussed topic on Italian social media.
The Local also posted a poll on their Facebook page asking readers to “vote yay or nay to Starbucks in Italy.” The final poll results were definitive, with 87 percent of readers choosing “Mamma mia! No thanks!” Voters opinions ranged from mild objection to confusion and even outright rage.
Many voiced the opinion that Starbucks coffee is “too hot” as well as “burnt” and “acidic,” while others discussed price (in Italy the average price for a coffee is one euro) as well as portion size (coffees are also smaller in Italy and considered to be much more reasonable) and even joked about Starbucks’ cup sizes.
Some critics however, weren’t as angry. While almost no one reacted with unbridled joy, some (almost sheepishly) admitted that a Frappuccino every once in a while might not be the worst thing in the world and others predicted that patrons of the first Italian Starbucks will most luckily be millennials, tourists, and people looking for free Wi-Fi and a place to sit.
From the sound of things, it doesn’t seem like many residents of Italy will be fans of the healthiest and unhealthiest Starbucks drinks any time soon.