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Fear of the Frappe

How many euros does a Pumpkin Spice Latte cost? The Italians are about to find out. For centuries, Italy has played a large role in the exportation and consumption of coffee, but now Italians are confused and angry because Starbucks plans to open its first store in Milan. While coffee purists in Italy scoff at the idea of a chain store coffee house, this resistance goes a little deeper than just tradition in Italy. Italy is a market economy, meaning the Italian people have a say in their country’s economics. For instance, some roasteries alter the cost of a cup of coffee depending on whether or not patrons request table service or drink it at the bar. Since many Italians enjoy their cappuccinos with their family and friends, having to pay extra for this “luxury” led to frustration. The Italian Consumer Association filed a complaint with Italy’s antitrust authority, requesting the price of table service coffee be lowered. What does this mean for Starbucks and the Italian economy?

The majority of the Italian people living in Milan, where the Starbucks is set to open, are concerned that Starbucks could drive up coffee prices all over Italy. One columnist even stated, “As an Italian, I consider the opening of Starbucks in Italy a humiliation.” However, Starbucks around the world represent more than just coffee; their locations are often used as offices for people who don’t have offices.

Furthermore, there is even a concern among Italians about job opportunities when Starbucks opens. Some worry that immigrants will flock to the Starbucks for work as opposed to young Italians getting these positions. It is clear coffee seems to be connected to Italy in a sort of national identity. After Starbucks sponsored the planting of new palm trees in the plaza where it was set to open, huge opposition arose. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and deputy prime minister, cried out against the “Africanization” of Italy, and called to defend the Italianness of their coffee. He even stated, “All that’s missing are the sand and camels, and the illegal immigrants will feel at home.”

For years, the former CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz has tried to establish a chain in Italy. It appears as if Starbucks, much to the chagrin of some Italians, is set to open its first store in Milan some time this year.

 

Works Cited

Donadio, Rachel. “Italy Defied Starbucks-Until It Didn’t.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12  Sept. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/milan-italy-starbucks/569695/.

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