Starbucks opened its first location in Italy, a Reserve Roastery in Milan, located inside the historic Poste building in Piazza Cordusio. The coffee behemoth plans to bring additional cafes to Milan beginning in late 2018.
Starbucks' arrival in Italy – the company’s 78th global market – marks the first time Starbucks has established its retail presence in a new country with the Roastery format. Only two others currently exist: Seattle, which opened in 2014, and Shanghai, which opened in 2017.
The 25,000-square-foot roastery will offer limited availability, small-lot Arabica coffee sourced from 30 countries around the world, roasted for the first time in Europe and paired with freshly baked food from local baker Rocco Princi.
Designed for the Italian Customer
Designed with Italian customers in mind, the open floor plan gives guests an expansive view upon entering the space. The design uses vibrant colors, reflective of the Italian fashion and design community, throughout, and the glass ceiling above floods the space with natural light.
“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 for 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.”
At the heart of the space sits a fully functioning Scolari coffee roaster, manufactured just miles outside Milan. The Roastery provides customers access to all aspects of the roasting process, with a 360-degree walk-around view of the manufacturing site. Starting with the pouring of green coffee beans out of burlap sacks, customers journey with the coffee all the way to the finishing process — with the 22-foot-high bronze cask unfolding like a blooming flower, allowing a glimpse inside of the de-gassing chamber. From there, coffee whizzes overhead through copper pipes directly to silos at the coffee bars or to the in-house pack line to be packaged for distribution in Starbucks stores across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
To the right of the roaster sits the main coffee bar. The wood-fronted bar features fluting, which echoes a motif found in Italian architecture throughout history. It is topped with marble sourced from the quarries of Tuscany. The coffee bar has a menu of more than 115 beverages across multiple brewing methods. The main bar also features a first for Starbucks, the affogato station, where staff make ice cream to order using a unique and theatrical liquid nitrogen finish and is meant to be paired with a shot of espresso.
To the left of the roaster resides a Princi Bakery, complete with a wood-fired oven, built on-site by hand using a crew of masons and artisans. In this area, guests can witness staff making dough and other elements that turn preparation into theater.
Upstairs on the mezzanine, the Arriviamo Bar — a first for Starbucks — overlooks the roastery and action below. The space was inspired by the Italian “aperitivo,” which refers to the practice of having social cocktails paired with small delicacies in the early evening hours. The 30-foot-long marble bar was carved from a single block of Calacatta Macchia Vecchia. Behind it, mixologists offer guests a bespoke menu of craft cocktails that draw inspiration from Italy and the brand’s coffee.
Outside on the building’s terrace, customers can enjoy the full range of Roastery coffees, cocktails and cuisine in a distinctly European environment, a street-side cafe. Also adorning the Roastery’s portico is a statue of a siren — the symbol of Starbucks steeped in classical lore — completely hand-carved in Carrara marble by Tuscan sculptor Giovanni Balderi.
Throughout the Roastery, complementing the physical retail environment is 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.
Of course, the Roastery also features a retail component for taking freshly roasted coffee beans home.