Two of Italy's biggest coffee houses are reinforcing their brands with flagship cafes in Milan near the spot where U.S. rival Starbucks is set to begin an invasion next year. Saskia O'Donoghue reports.
It's coffee, but not as Italians know it. While most coffee fans in Milan pay just one euro to sip their espressos at the bar... Two of the biggest names in Italian coffee are scaling up their offering with flagship cafes. Lavazza opens its first flagship cafe in the coffee-obsessed city this week. While Illycaffe has been in situ since May. Reuters Francesca Landini says their timing is not necessarily coincidental. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FRANCESCA LANDINI, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "The experts are saying it's not a coincidence that Lavazza and Illycaffe are opening new stores, very big and very elegant near the place where Starbucks will open its store next year." While the three new coffee houses are in direct competition with each other, they're not admitting it... a Starbucks spokesman saying they were happy to hear about Lavazza's new venture. Starbucks which hails Milan as the home of the "perfect espresso"... is opening a 'Reserve Roasteries' outlet offering speciality blends and fine food late in 2018, rather than its typical coffee shop. Lavazza and Illycaffe are best known for selling coffee though supermarkets and independent cafes, with their own stores acting as advertising for their brands. But Starbucks hopes to open more than 200 outlets across Italy in the next six years and that COULD change the face of Italian coffee drinking.