Almost one year ago, I posted my response to the question: why aren't there any Starbucks in Italy? Today at Fast Company Expert blogs I talk about learning from Starbucks -- Was it Too Much of a Good Thing?
I thought it a good idea to take another look at the reasons I gave for the absence of the coffee chain in the beautiful country I come from (waxing poetic now):
My two cents on Italian coffee and why Starbucks is an unlikely blend in Italy (I've been proven wrong before):
- True espresso coffee is an experience hardly any Italian gives up. It is often accompanied by a little pastry -- and I mean little -- a cigarette smoke, and a quick read of the sports section of the daily news. If the customer needs it, the caffe' quickly becomes "corretto", which means a splash of liquor graces it.
- The corner bar (that's how we call cafes) is cozy and the choice is personal. Each bar brings its own experience and clientele. In Modena we have Il Caffe' dell'Orologio near Piazza Grande, the main square, where a coffee can become a delightful blend of caffeine, chocolate and whipped cream in a champaigne flute with little salatini on the side or remain its old, marvelous self. In the summer, you can sit outside between the store windows of Max Mara and iBlues. I'm there only once a year, but they remember my name. There are many others, of course. Including one that makes the best hot chocolates in winter -- they literally coat your bones and protect you from the rigors of weather.
- Each bar has its own clientele and personality, even time of the day. When I'm there with my family, we head to one in the early morning, one in midmorning, and yet another one in late morning. All cafes work double duty, becoming aperitif places in the afternoon -- clever they are, and pleasure-loving we are. My favorite hangout for the afternoon and early evening cocktail or drink is the Caffe' Concerto in Piazza Grande, Modena. In the spring and summer they have tables outside where you can sit, relax, listen to the music, and watch the world go by and the sunset kiss the red bricks of the buildings and pink marble of the cathedral.
Now it looks like Mr. Schultz is planning to expand internationally. If there is market saturation for coffee shops, that would be in Italy. I just hope that wisdom prevails and we don't find ourselves flooded in the smaller piazzas and street corners of a country we've all come to love for it's lack of predictability.
I brew my own espresso at home so I can learn to avoid the stores there as I have here. What about you? Do you think Starbucks would blend in Italy?