One of world's favorite chains, Starbucks, recently announced their plans to open in Milan, Italy in 2018. Typically, I would not have an issue with this, but after being abroad in Italy for over three months, I found it hard to believe that a country who prides themselves on their coffee would let this happen. Here's a look at how I came to fall in love with Italian coffee, and how the latest news of Starbucks opening in Italy tore into my heart.

Italian Coffee Stole My Heart

cream, chocolate, mocha, milk, espresso, coffee, cappuccino
Amanda Wakefield

While I was abroad in the Fall semester of 2016, I found nothing more satisfying than waking up, walking to a nearby café, and enjoying a freshly brewed Italian espresso or cappuccino. Maybe it was the atmosphere of the small, busy cafés, or the amazing quality of the coffee beans, but the second I took my first sip, I was hooked.

Every single day, from August until December, I woke up looking forward to the amazing Italian coffee that I could find on every corner. I was addicted, even more so than I was before my Italian adventure. Now that I am back in the States, I am desperately searching for coffee of similar quality, but have yet to come across something so delicious.

For those of you who have never had a coffee in Italy, you may be asking yourselves, so what? There are plenty of amazing coffee places in the United States. I agree with you, and I am not saying that I don't drink coffee just as much now that I am back, but there is just something about that coffee and the culture of it all that I cannot, and will not, get over.

The Coffee Culture 

wine, beer, coffee
Priya Mehra

In Italy, coffee means way more than just what is inside of the mug. Italians take their coffee seriously, and not until I was living in Italy could I begin to understand why. 

The act of enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning is something that does not seem taken for granted. There are no throw-away cups, people are not rushing to finish what is in front of them, and the atmosphere is almost too good to be true. It is a time to sit down, appreciate the day ahead, and sip on the most amazing, black, liquid caffeine that exists. 

In addition to the coffee, the pastries in these little cafés are something that cannot be ignored. They are all baked fresh daily, and have the perfect sweetness where they can still be considered breakfast.

Honestly, what more could we ask for? Does Starbucks really need to makes a mark in a place that is already so perfectly flooded with amazing coffee and pastries? I think not.

Why, Starbucks? Why?

When I found out about the Starbucks opening in Milan in 2018, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I am not going to lie and say that I am not a Starbucks fan, because trust me I enjoy collecting stars on the Starbucks app as much as anyone else, but I was pretty distraught when I discovered the news of their latest location. 

I'm not even in Italy right now, or planning on permanently living in Italy, but this news sank in my heart in such a real way. I enjoyed the culture of drinking coffee in Europe so much. It is one of the things I miss most about waking up in Italy every morning. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like if a Starbucks takes over and invades like it has in so many other locations.

Let's just take a second to consider the implications that a Starbucks would have on the Italian coffee culture. I imagine long lines, misspelled Italian names written about to-go cups, and the generic Starbucks taste that can be found in nearly every country in the world. Starbucks, congratulations, you are finally going to make your mark in Italy. 

Starbucks promises to make the chain in Milan a higher-end Roastery, which is a more luxurious take on the Starbucks experience. However, in my opinion, there are plenty of nice cafés in Italy that are high-end and serve the real-deal Italian coffee. Why does Starbucks need to intervene, don't they already have enough fans and locations around the globe? 

CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, commented on the new addition to their business by saying, "We have to be extremely thoughtful and respectful of the Italian coffee culture. We're not coming to Italy to teach the Italians how to make coffee."

Honestly, I'll see it when I believe it. Maybe it's the fact that they advertise "hand-crafted coffee" at all of their chains, or the fact that their products are overpriced, but I have reason to believe this is just another way for the chain to rake in more money. 

Only Time Will Tell

If there is not a massive line outside of the Milan Starbucks on the grand opening, I will be shocked, but I will also be proud of all of the Italians and tourists who choose to stand up for Italian coffee tradition. Time will tell whether or not the Starbucks that is set to open in Milan in 2018 will have success, but I can only hope for the best at this point.

While it is too late for America to let go of the over-powering fast food chains, Italy still has time. Being the country where the Slow Food Movement originated, I am eager to see how citizens will react. Whether or not Italians will frequent the new Starbucks will definitely be something to watch out for in 2018.