Starbucks celebrated the opening of its first store in Italy Thursday, what the company is calling the “most beautiful Starbucks in the world”—the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan. The highly anticipated Milan Roastery is the crown jewel of Starbucks global retail footprint—a place where Italian customers can come to discover the art and science of coffee in a breath-taking environment that is both an homage to the city of Milan and a celebration of everything Starbucks has learned about coffee in its 47-year history, the company said. Following a grand opening celebration this evening, the Roastery will open its doors to all customers tomorrow morning, September 7, at 9 a.m.

“During my first trip to Milan in 1983, I was captivated by the sense of community I found in the city’s espresso bars—the moments of human connection that passed so freely and genuinely between baristas and their customers. The opening of the Milan Roastery is the story of Starbucks coming full circle,” says Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus of Starbucks. “Everything we have experienced, since that first moment of inspiration 35 years ago to now being a daily part of millions of people’s lives around the world, we bring with great respect to Italy. On behalf of the 350,000 partners who wear the green apron and millions before them, I am so proud and humbled to bring our Italian customers an experience that is the very best of Starbucks.”

Starbucks arrival in Italy—the company’s 78th global market—is unlike any other market opening in its history. Milan marks the first time Starbucks has established its retail presence in a new country with the Roastery format, of which only two others exist in the world: the Seattle Roastery, which opened in 2014, and the Roastery in Shanghai, which debuted in 2017. Standing at 2,300 square meters (25,000 square feet), the Milan Roastery is in Milan’s Palazzo della Poste on the Piazza Cordusio—only streets away from iconic landmarks such as the Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Teatro alla Scala.

Starbucks opened its first store in Europe 20 years ago in London. Since then, it has grown in partnership with strategic licensees to more than 3,100 stores in 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The introduction of the company-operated Reserve Roastery in Milan reinforces the company’s investment in its premium brand as part of its overall growth strategy, which also serves as a pipeline of retail and product innovation for its core stores around the world. Following the opening of the Roastery, Starbucks will bring additional cafes to Milan with licensed partner Percassi beginning late 2018. These stores will reflect the unique coffee culture of the Italian market, while also offering Starbucks iconic beverage and food offerings.

“We have taken our time to ensure our entry into Italy is done thoughtfully and respectfully,” says Kevin Johnson, chief executive officer. “The introduction of our Roastery and premium Reserve brand will set the stage for the long-term development of our core store portfolio with our world-class licensee partner, Percassi.”

At the Milan Roastery, heritage and innovation take center stage against a backdrop of stunning design and immersive discovery. As customers enter the building, they are met with a view that spans every aspect of the Roastery experience. Vibrant colors reflective of the Italian fashion and design community greet each person, and over the course of the day, the space transforms from the light filtering through the glass ceiling.

At the heart of the environment is a fully functioning Scolari coffee roaster, manufactured just miles outside of the center of Milan. To the right, customers will find the main bar, where classic espresso beverages mingle with cutting-edge coffee innovation. The wood-fronted bar features fluting, which echoes a motif found in Italian architecture throughout history, and is topped with marble sourced from the world-famous quarries of Tuscany. Upstairs on the mezzanine, customers can discover Arriviamo Bar—where mixologists are on hand to create specialty cocktails behind a 10-meter (30-foot)-long marble bar carved from a single block of Calacatta Macchia Vecchia. And finally, to the left, customers will see upon entering a PrinciTM Bakery, complete with a wood-fired oven, built brick by brick, onsite by hand using a crew of masons and artisans.

“We have spent the past year living and breathing the city of Milan, working closely with dozens of local artisans to bring to life our most beautiful retail experience that engages each one of our customers’ senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and of course, taste,” says Liz Muller, chief design officer, Starbucks. “From the palladiana flooring that was chiseled by hand to the bright green clackerboard made by Italian craftsman Solari, everything you see in the Roastery is intentional, offering moments of discovery and transparency.”

Throughout the Roastery, the physical retail environment is complemented by an interactive augmented reality experience, encouraging customers to use their mobile device to uncover more about Starbucks Reserve coffees, the roasting process and the company. The centerpiece of the AR experience is a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall visual representation of Starbucks history and its coffee—engraved in brass by local craftsmen, burnished to an ombre finish and backlit to bring warmth to the story.

Outside on the building’s terrace, customers can enjoy the full range of Roastery coffees, cocktails and cuisine in a distinctly European environment—that of a street-side café. Also adorning the Roastery’s portico is a striking statue of a siren—the symbol of Starbucks steeped in classical lore—completely hand-carved in Carrara marble by Tuscan sculptor Giovanni Balderi.

At the heart of Starbucks premium Reserve brand are the rare and exotic high-quality Arabica coffees, ethically sourced from more than 30 countries around the world. Each coffee is handpicked by a team of Starbucks coffee quality experts, offering both unique taste profiles and stories from the regions where they were grown.

These coffees are brought to life by seven highly skilled roasters who have spent nearly a year training in Starbucks roasting plants around the world, immersing in Starbucks 47 years of experience and leadership in coffee roasting. They apply their craft daily in the Milan Roastery, which is the first place in Europe where Starbucks unique, small-lot Reserve coffee will be roasted. The Roastery provides customers unprecedented visibility to all aspects of the roasting process, with a 360-degree walk-around view of the manufacturing site. This transparency into the science and craft starts with green coffee being poured out of burlap sacks, continues through the roaster and sweeping cooling trays, and reaches a dramatic crescendo as the 6.5-meter (22 foot)-high bronze cask unfolds like a blooming flower, allowing a glimpse inside of the de-gassing chamber—a natural part of the roasting process. From there, coffee whizzes overhead through copper pipes directly to silos at the coffee bars, where customers can enjoy a fresh cup of Reserve coffee, or to the in-house pack line to be packaged for distribution in Starbucks stores across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The coffee bar will serve as the stage where hundreds of baristas will handcraft a menu of more than 115 beverages across multiple brewing methods: ModBar Pour Over, Chemex, Coffee Press, Siphon, Espresso, Cold Brew and the proprietary CloverTM Brewed coffee. The main bar will also feature a first-for-Starbucks affogato station, where ice cream is hand-crafted, made-to-order, using a unique and theatrical liquid nitrogen finish to create the perfect ice cream to be paired with a delicious shot of espresso.

And for customers wishing to take a piece of the Roastery experience home, is the Scooping Bar, where guests purchase specially packaged, freshly roasted coffee beans from Starbucks Reserve coffees, including some that are exclusive to the Milan Roastery. The display of coffee in bins and scooping silos and the grocery scales and paper packaging are evocative of the experience of buying dry goods by the gram, freshly packaged.

In 2016, Starbucks announced a strategic partnership with Italian baker Rocco Princi, making his artisanal, freshly baked food the exclusive pairing to the company’s premium Reserve brand. Following the introduction of Princi food to the Seattle and Shanghai Roasteries last year, Princi is now available in the first Reserve store located in Starbucks headquarters in addition to the first standalone U.S. Princi store that opened this summer in Seattle.

The Princi Bakery in the Milan Roastery is anchored by a wood-fired oven made using an ancient technique, with a unique method of radiating heat using fire, creating Rocco Princi’s ultimate tool for making bread the way it’s meant to be done. The facing is a rough-cut Porfido Giallo, sourced nearby in the Lombardy region. In this area guests can also see the dough being made from the finest flour and water, a view of the whole process that is similar to the coffee journey on display elsewhere in the Roastery. Items baked in the Princi Bakery will be available both here and throughout the Roastery for customers looking to pair their coffee with the perfect bite—be it savory or sweet.

“Over the past few years with Starbucks, I’ve had the incredible privilege to share the flavors and passion of the Milanese people with customers in the U.S. and in China. I’m now grateful to return the same hospitality as I join the people of Milan in welcoming Starbucks to Italy,” says Rocco Princi, founder of Princi Bakeries.

Inspired by the Italian aperitivo—social cocktails paired with small delicacies in the early evening hours—the Milan Roastery will be the first Starbucks location to feature an Arriviamo Bar. Located on the mezzanine at the top of a sweeping staircase, Arriviamo is a destination for a carefully crafted cocktail or special coffee service.

At Arriviamo, a team of mixologists create beverages from a bespoke menu that draws on both the Italian palate and Starbucks coffee heritage. From classic Italian favorites such as the Spritz and Negroni to cold-brewed coffee cocktails that infuse flavor and craft, customers can witness a whole new theatre of experience that is both distinctive from and complementary to the bars on the main Roastery floor. In addition to serving aperitivo in the evening, customers can also enjoy coffee on the mezzanine – all while observing the Roastery and manufacturing experience from a new vantage point up above.

In preparation for opening, nearly 300 new careers began earlier this year as the Roastery hired on its inaugural team of employees—spanning barista and mixology positions, coffee roasters and manufactures, and Princi bakers. Partners underwent minimum three-months’ intensive training and will continue to see investments in learning and development as they grow their careers with Starbucks. Starbucks also brings its award-winning Apprenticeship Program to Milan at opening. Starbucks is already offering apprenticeships to baristas and mixologists, with six apprentices already enrolled. Each apprenticeship is a three-year program, through which partners receive 260 hours of off-the-job, sector-specific training to develop their talent and equip them for lasting, rewarding careers. As Starbucks grows in Italy, it will continue to invest in programs to advance meaningful careers for its partners.

Beyond its own doors, Starbucks will also focus on creating educational and career opportunity for youth across Milan. The Starbucks Foundation is partnering with the Fondazione Don Gino Rigoldi to create a bespoke program to support young people from disadvantaged areas of Milan who are at risk of marginalization and face significant barriers into employment. Simultaneously, The Starbucks Foundation is supporting programs in partnership with La Scala Academy, focused on scholarships, employability training and community engagement that offer students greater access to education and employment.

“Core to our business is creating positive social impact in the communities we serve around the world,” adds Vivek Varma, president of The Starbucks Foundation. “We established The Starbucks Foundation more than 20 years ago to advance this mission, and with these initial investments in Italy, we aim to create new opportunity for youth in Milan while also laying a foundation for longer-term commitments to the Italian market.”

To mark the occasion, Starbucks partnered with the Comune di Milano and La Scala Academy to create a theatrical production that brings the stories of Schultz and Starbucks to life through a combination of film, live opera and orchestral performances. The event, with the patronage of Comune di Milano, will culminate in the Roastery being presented as a tribute to the city of Milan.

Design, Story, Starbucks