We started off Day 4 with a business shadow of the Starbucks Reserve in Milan. Truth be told, I was a bit skeptical as to how Starbucks could possibly compete with the long cultural history and prevalence of coffee within Italian culture. I am sure that there is better coffee in Milan than Starbucks, and more so, why would Italians embrace the sudden appearance of a mainstream American brand trying to enter one of their most cherished market. However, during the shadow, it became clear that Starbuck’s Reserve in Milan used a very targeted approach here in Milan that relied not on its mediocre coffee, but the spectacle Starbuck’s Reserve provides.
This idea is first evident in the humongous coffee production machines on display throughout the building that gives a glimpse of the technological marvel that is coffee, one that the Italian people have never seen done on such an elaborate scale before. One fact that the tour guide brought up that stuck with me was that many of the decor within the reserve was influenced directly by the architecture of Milan itself. This all reminded me of the factoid that was brought up a few days earlier during our tour of the Duomo, that Starbucks planted palm trees in order to attract the attention of the Italian public, to great avail. Through this focus on elaborate spectacle that directly draws on the heritage of Milan, I assume that Starbucks was well aware of the immense difficulty of trying to enter into the cherished Italian coffee market and that without such spectacle Starbucks reserve could not have succeeded the way it did.
Lastly, I hope to quick touch on a culture shock a group of us experienced today during dinner. Unable to find a restaurant to eat at, we unfortunately ended up wandering into an extremely expensive one. Right away we were under-dressed, American, and out of place. We ended up ordering a dish that we thought was 18 Euros (that’s what it said on the menu) to share between the four us. But imagine our surprise when the restaurant charged us 72 Euros for the dish, 18 per person, without making any sort of mention to it previously. That is definitely not what we are used to in America, but it is Italy after all, things here are different and it’s our fault for making the mistake, but I am still a bit upset. It was like something out of a movie, some oblivious Americans end up ordering way too much and having to pay the consequences. But I digress, for a few lousy Euros is after all, a small price to pay for being born and raised in the land of the free and the home of the brave.