In an atmosphere of enthusiasm and skepticism, criticism and debate between who were agree and who did not, after years of hearing about it, the first Starbucks shop finally arrived in Italy. For the joy of the glass with the green siren lovers, it is not only the first store opened in Italy, but it is also the largest in Europe and the most beautiful in the world. It is because the store is not a simple coffee shop, it is a Reserve Roastery, a place where the coffee arrives raw and is toasted and ground at the moment to offer an exclusive tasting experience in a historical location finely replaced in a modern and chic key. So we went to see and try, continue reading to know what our experience was.
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No, we are not exaggerating, if that’s what you are thinking about. It was openly declared by Mr. Howard Schultz himself, president emeritus of Starbucks, that in Italy things have been done so gorgeous as tribute to the city that in 1983 inspired and revolutionized the way of consuming coffee in the world. The iconic phrase “DEDICATED TO MILAN, THE CITY THAT INSPIRED OUR DREAMS, EVERY COFFEE THAT WE HAVE DONE HAS BROUGHT HERE” was imprinted on the wall. Mr. Schultz has in fact exported in the world what he has found in Italy and now he has decided to return to Milan the glory it deserves, with extreme gratitude and humility. It is not a coincidence that the opening was preceded by redevelopment works of the square in front of the old post office building (location where the colossus decided to open its doors) and the installation of the exotic trees in the nearby Piazza Duomo, object of criticism and vandalism on several occasions (we are sorry to mention it).
Although it has been praised, criticized, disputed, desired, now Mr. Schultz’s dream has come true. And what a dream! Inside the Roastery there is all the Italian excellence: the interiors, by the designer Liz Muller, rigorously follow the Italian style to blend harmoniously with the architectural context of old Milan; the restructuring of the old Post Office building has been entrusted to the care and minuteness of Italian artisans with the use of selected Italian raw materials; cakes, brioches and pastries are Princi branded, the prestigious and historic Milanese pastry shop.
To whom do not know, the Reserve Roasteries are top class coffee shops, with a refined design, in which coffee beans are roasted at the moment and the coffee tasting turns into a sublime and multi-sensory experience. The idea that you have in your mind while you are crossing the front door (which will be promptly opened by the concierge) is exactly to enter into a futuristic store, inspired by the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, where copper pipes cross the room from side to side and powerful vacuum cleaners lead rivers of coffee beans to the roaster, that is the beating heart of the shop, in front of the curious and enchanted eyes of the customers. There are only 2 other Reserve Roasteries in the world (in Seattle, the first to be opened, and in Shanghai).
Here is a list of what there is in the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milan.
The Main Bar
It is the main bar of the shop and it is centrally located. All around there is a series of high stools to consume directly at the bar counter, high sharing tables and mini living rooms with sofas for a more comfortable seat and to enjoy a little privacy during your leisure break. Here we come mainly to enjoy the wide range of coffee, which is divided between different blends and preparation technologies.
The Princi Bar
It is located to the left of the entrance and offers a vast assortment of sweet and savory pastries, croissants and cakes. An open work station allows you to watch the preparation of Princi specialties, so as not to get bored while standing in line at the cash desk.
The Scooping Bar
It is a corner dedicated to the purchase of coffee by “spoon”. The coffee, in grinds, is sold by weight; you can choose between the different varieties with the refined aroma and they are the same that you can taste in the bars of the Roastery. The small counter is surmounted by a maxi board with mobile dowels like those still found in the old railway stations.
The Arriviamo Bar
On the mezzanine floor there is the exclusive bar designed for the Milanese nightlife, where you can sip refined drinks, taste pizza slices or enjoy an aperitif. The seats are not many, it will be very difficult to find a table at rush hour. In any case, we suggest you to go upstairs and snoop because the overall view of the shop from here is the best.
At the center of the shop, just in front of the entrance, there is the stately and futuristic coffee roasting plant, you will notice it at the first sight. Coffee beans pass through transparent tubes that lap the glass ceiling and reach the roaster; then they go to the cooling system and to the degassing chamber, consisting of a huge barrel with wings that open and close repeatedly, creating a show of great effect; finally, the coffee is sorted to the bars, or to the packaging for export, passing through convoluted copper tubes.
The retail corners
In the central part of the store there is a series of small stores dedicated to the retail products of the American colossus. Pay attention because you will not find the usual gadgets or the classic city-named cups. A whole range of attractive items awaits you: ceramics, textiles, knick-knacks, coffee packaged in elegant envelopes, cups with the Roastery logo (a star followed by a “R”, * | R) and much more.
We will tell you about our experience. Being an absolute novelty in Italy, the opening of the first Starbucks on the national territory has caused a great interest between the population. The direct consequence is the huge line at the entrance, always, accentuated during the weekend or at peak times. We advise you to go early in the morning, between 7 am and 9 am to enjoy a tasting experience in absolute calm, without having to queue up outside the shop, then at the cash desk, then at the bar counters and finally find you standing without a place to lay your tray and drink your coveted coffee.
Having escaped the line outside, our experience in the Roastery begins at the cash desk: we have noticed that there is no price list in sight to get an idea while you are waiting for your turn. Once you reach the cash desk you find a menu printed on cardboard that roughly shows the offer of the cafeteria, we strongly recommend you first to make a round to choose your breakfast with your eyes and not “on paper”. What really dazzles the menu are undoubtedly the prices: an espresso 1.80 EUR, a cup of cappuccino 4.50 EUR (the small one), a brioche 2.80 EUR and a slice of cake 6.50 EUR. It can be an obstacle for the average people, because it is unlikely to become a regular visitor of a place that costs twice than the best Milanese coffee shops and patisseries. We would say that the quality of the products is very high and you will not find an equivalent cakes and pastries offer elsewhere. Let’s face it, lovers of the Starbucks chain would have expected to be able to order the classic Frappuccino or to taste the American pastries of the brand, certainly not to find an espresso at 1.80 EUR and the sweet sector signed Princi. But do not worry: the Frappuccino addicted will find consolation in the other stores that are opening in the city.
And what about the location? The chosen venue, although huge and enchanting, does not offer an adequate number of seats for guests compared to what could be its potential capacity. Secondly, the seats are not designed for a long break: high stools without backs at the counter or at the shared tables, mini living rooms with sofas and too low tables. We come back with a strong awareness: the store is not a place for studying and working with own PC, slowly sipping a Frappuccino, connected to the wi-fi of the shop. It is very far from the Starbucks shops in which Italians can not wait to enter as soon as they land in a foreign capital. It is rather a luxury bar in which drink a high quality coffee in a fast way, in the general comings and goings of tourists, businessmen and trendy guys.
For the breakfast “brioche and cappuccino” based the Italians will continue to have their trusted bars, the Roastery will remain the enchanted and wonderful place in which to go for enjoying a breakfast of a higher level, one-off. So, just time will say if the Starbucks opening will continue to divide the minds or if the Roastery will be able to break through the heart of Milanese people in order to become one of the landmarks of the city.
See you soon