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Starbucks' Latte Empire Is Expanding to Italy

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Will the birthplace of espresso culture accept the coffee giant?

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Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

While Starbucks may have created a mass demand for foamy lattes, Italians invented the espresso machine. Until now, the coffee giant steered clear of The Boot. However, today Starbucks revealed plans to expand into the Italian market beginning with a store in Milan in early 2017.

According to a release, Starbucks is partnering with Percassi,€” an Italian brand management and real estate group, to bring its cafes into Italy. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says the company is planning to take a humble approach with its Italian stores: "Starbucks history is directly linked to the way the Italians created and executed the perfect shot of espresso," he says. "Now we're going to try, with great humility and respect, to share what we've been doing and what we've learned through our first retail presence in Italy."

Antonio Percassi, president of Percassi adds, "We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy, the country of coffee, and we are confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets." Starbucks did not provide any details regarding the number of shops it anticipates opening in the country. "We expect Italy to be a growth market for us over time," a company spokesperson tells Eater.

The Seattle-based coffee giant reported record earnings in the first fiscal quarter of 2016, crediting a large portion of company revenue to Starbucks cards and the streamlining of payment systems with its Mobile Order & Pay app. In addition to expansions in Italy, the company plans to break into the South African market this year and will open more reserve stores in the United Kingdom and Europe. An estimated 1,800 new stores will open this year in the Americas, along with 700 in China. Still, the company outlook isn't all rosy. In January, Starbucks shuttered all but one of its Teavana tea bars. Time will tell if the coffee company can brew up a following in Italy.

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