There are a few simple rules that must be respected when it comes to coffee and coffee culture, especially in Italy. Rules that have never been officially written on a stone but that are part of a tradition that dates back to the origin of the Italian country. Italians know how to truly enjoy a good cup of coffee and there is not any other way to do it.
Rule #1 – You should never drink coffee in a paper cup
Rule #2 – You should never have a cappuccino and a sandwich at the same time
Rule #3 – You should never have a cappuccino after noon
Rule #4 – You should never ask for an espresso when in a bar, the barista already knows what you are about to order
Rule #5 – Espresso and caffè are synonyms and an espresso consists of a single shot of good, black and strong coffee
These rules are generally respected throughout the Italian territory even though in some regions there are other traditions. The people of Naples have a saying. They say that a coffee must be drank with the three Cs “Come Cazz’ Coce” that literary translates into “It’s fucking hot”. Yes, coffee must be as hot as hell otherwise it loses its flavor. But given the above listed rules, how is Starbucks going to penetrate the Italian market? Is the American coffee house able to meet the Italian requirements when it comes to this hot beverage? The answer is yes, absolutely yes. Starbucks is about everything but coffee. Well they do serve coffee and cappuccino there but it is not just about what you order. Entering in a Starbucks means much ore. It is a sort of shopping experience. The design and furniture of the store, the baristas wearing the same outfits and the names written on the cup ( hopefully spelled properly…). We have all seen actors walking down the city streets holding a Starbucks cup in their hand. And this is what we want to do. Having a coffee at Starbucks will not replace the Italian rituals about it. It will be something else that we do to try something that we never did before and if Starbucks wants to meet the Italian expectations here there are some advices that must be carefully considered:
- Coffee must be cheap. We are used to pay € 1.00 for an espresso and € 1.20 for a cappuccino.
- Our breakfast is actually what we have in the bar. We only have an espresso ( or cappuccino) and a croissant ( we call it “cornetto” or “brioches”). This means that both must be of excellent quality. I would avoid any frozen pastry. Look for the best bakery in town and order from them your pastries.
- Make sure that the barista work on the same shifts every day. We like to have a quick chat with the barista and if every morning we see someone that we have never seen before we are going to be disappointed.
- Let the people have their espresso standing right next to the bar. It is a quick procedure and we are not going to sit at any table.
- We do not like waiting in line! Espresso in Italian means quick (fast) and if we enter in a bar and see a long line in front of the counter we are going to choose another coffee house.
If the above advice will be seriously taken into consideration I believe that Starbucks will be easily accepted by the Italian people as an alternative to their rituals, especially by the younger generation who are much more used to travel abroad and to experience what the global economy has to offer.