Starbucks to open first coffee shop in Italy
Starbucks is taking its boldest step yet by opening its first store in Italy.
The American coffee chain promised to enter the birthplace of the espresso "with humility and respect".
The first Starbucks will open in Milan early next year, in partnership with Italian developer Percassi.
President Antonio Percassi said: "We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy."
It was a trip to Milan in the 1980s where he saw locals gathered at coffee bars that inspired Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive of Starbucks, to set up a coffee shop in America. The chain now has 22,000 outlets in 67 countries.
"The dream of the company always has been to sometime complete the circle and open in Italy, but we haven't been ready," Mr Schultz said.
Mr Percassi said: "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."
Despite the country's long cultural and historical links with coffee - the espresso machine was invented in Italy - it is only the seventh-largest consumer of the beverage in Europe.
According to the European Coffee Federation, Finland consumed the most coffee in Europe in the year to May 2014 - the most recent figures available - followed by Austria and Sweden.
Mr Schultz said the Milan store will be designed with "painstaking attention to detail" to "honour the Italian people and their coffee culture".
"Visually, it has to be a very seductive place where Starbucks comes alive," he added.