Starbucks has finally announced a solid timetable for its first Italian location: Sometime in early 2017, "Italian Roast" will be a phrase that likely describes not only a coffee sold by the chain, but also the act of a person in Milan talking about the new store. CEO Howard Schultz has been fantasizing about opening in Italy ever since 1983, when he had an experience in a Milan coffeehouse so amazing, it left him "shaking." He's always said Starbucks happened because of that trip, and now as a thank-you, Italians will get their own "exciting" and "unique" stores that Starbucks promises will show "great respect for the Italian people."
Schultz doesn't want any confusion about who's responsible, either. He just flew to Milan, which is bustling right now because it's Fashion Week, to walk reporters and business people through his involvement "in every detail of this opening." He further clarified to the New York Times, "There are very few markets and stores that I'm as intimately involved in as this."
What Italians can expect is still unclear, outside of a menu that is carefully crafted to respect their great coffee traditions, and therefore probably free of concoctions like Smoked Butterscotch Lattes and Java Chip Frappuccinos. It's possible the sizes might change, since Italians drink smaller quantities, and also Venti is just their word for "twenty." Overall, the vision is a little fuzzy, though — Starbucks says it isn't trying to compete with Milan's traditional coffeehouses, but of course has to mimic them to earn respect. Schultz does vaguely promise that he's creating a proprietary coffee whose quality "is going to surprise people."