Monday, February 29, 2016

Understanding Italians

Big News!  The circus came to town!  Starbucks has just decided to put a coffee bar in Milano.   Well, okay, not so big news, this huge corporation, making millions of dollars, are only putting in one bar.  Just one.  Not a big expenditure this plunge into Italian coffee world.  Not much of a risk!  Only one?  What gives?!
     The opening is rumored to be February 1.
My Personal Choice
Back when Starbucks was deciding to move abroad the corporate big shot
 made the smart decision to avoid Italy like a case of herpes.  He saw that coffee is a lifestyle here.  Italians treat coffee and coffee time much different from Americans.  They are hard core.  The prices that Starbucks will ask will not be accepted.  The size of drinks will not be accepted.  The sugary blends they pass off to sugar hungry Americans will not be accepted.  A Starbucks bar will be accepted by Italians like heavy dead wind, and frequented only by tourists from abroad or Americano wannabes.

Italian Coffee Bars Sell Beer and Wine
As far as the strategic approach that Starbucks uses, forcing other coffee bars out of business, this will not work here.  There are already too many coffee bars and these coffee bars have loyal customers.  Customers who arrive, order, throw the tiny cup of coffee down like medicine and leave.  Customers who most usually do not sit, hang out, read a book or communicate on their ipads.  Seriously, in my nearby city of Padova, a huge university town, it is really hard to find a coffee bar with wifi.  People just do not go to a bar and do internet.  It’s a different lifestyle.  

Italians do not seek a coffee bar that matches their economic status, it’s not the furnishings, or the decor, and as for location, what matters is that it is close to their workplace, or home.  Convenience matters in all cases.  Many bars here are just a step up from a hole in the wall.  Tiny tables with shaky chairs are the rule here.  The bakery goods are delivered mostly to them all by the same local baker.  You won’t find donuts or huge muffins in a bar here.
Please, Oh Please, Will some open a donut shop!

I might buy one of those, but Italians will leave them to die on the shelf.   My bar tried selling donuts, they did not sell. They do not know what long johns are. (I am missing this right now...badly.)

    I believe that the jury is already out on this bar in Milano and if they go further and open one in Padova or Venice I will look in the window and see two or three people with their giant lattes, and a lot of empty seats.  While on the other three corners of the street it will be the usual in and out of hurried people taking their shots of coffee, saying “ciao” to the barista on their way out.

                       It will be interesting to watch how things develop.

Replica of the statue of David in Firenze

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