Starbucks announced on Thursday that it plans to open between 200 and 300 stores in Italy starting next year.
Come June 2018, Starbucks will open four shops in Rome and Milan. If the first phase of expansion goes well, Italy could expect to see up to 300 stores in the country by 2023, according to Italian financial site Il Sole 24 Ore.
At the same time, Starbucks has sponsored the planting of 42 palm and banana trees in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, leading many to believe that the first shop could appear in the capital’s historic (albeit touristy) square.
Despite being influenced by Italian coffee culture, Starbucks has not yet managed to break into the country.
When CEO Howard Schultz originally announced the Italian expansion last year, he said that it would be done with “painstaking detail and great respect” for Italian cafes. It was his travels to Milan and Verona in the 1980s that originally sparked the idea for the first Starbucks.
However, Seattle's coffee culture and that of Italy are vastly different. Whereas small cups of espresso can be price-regulated by the Italian government (right now it’s at about €1 for a cup), a grande latte can cost up to $4.84 in Europe.
There are currently 15,000 Starbucks stores around the world in 50 different countries. Italy will be the 51st.