Italians will wake up and smell Starbucks coffee in Milan

Starbucks will raid an espresso home with a coffee shop chain, announcing it will open an Italian branch in September.

The first Italian Starbucks will be situated in the historic post-office building overlooking Piazza Cordusio in central Milan, a stone’s throw from the Duomo, and will be one of the company’s more high-end establishments.

The chain’s executive chairman, Howard Schultz, said in Milan on Monday that his vision for Starbucks came after a trip to Milan in 1983. The company had originally slated the opening of its first Italian branch for early last year but the project began to run behind schedule and as delays mounted Starbucks decided to take on Italy’s coffee drinkers with a landmark opening.

Schultz said: “I came to Milan as a young man in 1983 … my imagination was captured by Italian coffee. We are not coming here to teach Italians how to make coffee, we are coming here with humility and respect, to show what we have learned.”

Starbucks has a battle on its hands to make sure its arrival in Italy doesn’t leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Italian coffee lovers, millions of whom start their day and bookend their meals with an espresso. The Italian catering industry group Fipe says that bars in Italy serve 6bn espressos every year, generating a turnover of €6.6bn (£5.8bn).

Schultz, 64, is responsible for building Starbucks from just 11 stores in 1987 to a coffeehouse giant that has about 29,000 stores worldwide which serve 100 million customers each week.

Last year it posted operating profits of $4.1bn, broadly in line with 2016.

Nestlé announced on Monday that it would pay $7.15bn in cash for the rights to market Starbucks products around the world outside of the company’s coffee shops.