11 things you need to know about Starbucks' historic move to open stores in Italy

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Starbucks to Open Store in Milan, Italy

Starbucks is going "home" to Italy, the country that inspired the multi-billion dollar international success.

Starbucks, that wee Seattle success story that's grown into the largest coffee brand on the planet with over 20,000 locations worldwide, is set to open shop in Milan in early 2017. Its move into Italian territory is both symbolic and historic for the $86 billion brand. Here's why:

1. Howard Schultz, who purchased Starbucks from its founders in 1987, was inspired to bring espresso drinks stateside after a business trip to Milan and Verona in the 1980s. You could say that paid off for him (and that would be the understatement of the year).

2. Schultz credits "the craftsmanship of the Milanese barista, the spirit of the Italian people, their passion for community, their friendliness and taste for quality," as the root of his vision for Starbucks as it is today.

3. Starbucks' European stores historically haven't been among their most successful, and combined with their stores in the Middle East and Africa, make up just 10% of their stores worldwide.


View photos of Starbucks locations around the world:

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Starbucks locations around the world
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11 things you need to know about Starbucks' historic move to open stores in Italy
A woman walks into a Starbucks Coffee, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
People walk past the first Starbucks to open in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. The three-floor coffee house in Bogota is the first of 50 that the Seattle-based company plans to open here in the next five years. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Baristas Truong Nguyen, left, and Ben Ruthruff, right, talk with customers near a display of special Seattle Seahawks Starbucks cards on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, at a Starbucks store in Seattle. The Seahawks began a one-week fund-raising campaign Wednesday with Starbucks to benefit Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll's A Better Seattle program, which seeks to reach at-risk youth and prevent gang violence. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz poses for the photographer before a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, May 13, 2013. Schultz, visiting Bangkok this week to mark the coffee giant's 15 year anniversary of opening in Thailand, said Monday the coffee chain's first stores in India and Vietnam have been received positively and it might soon be time to give Myanmar a shot too. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Two customers sit outside a Starbucks vandalized by angry protestors in opposition to Mexico's newly sworn-in president, in Mexico City, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. Protests began early Saturday morning with violent confrontations in the streets and protest speeches from opposition parties inside the congress, where Enrique Pena Nieto took the oath of office. Protesters continued vandalizing downtown businesses, smashing plate glass windows and setting office furniture ablaze outside. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Pedestrians walk past a branch of the Starbucks cafe chain in west London, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. A committee of British lawmakers says the government should "get a grip" and clamp down on multinational corporations that exploit tax laws to move profits generated in Britain to offshore domains.The committee says major multinationals including Starbucks, Google and Amazon are guilty of immoral tax avoidance. Starbucks announced it is reviewing its British tax practices in a bid to restore public trust. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
In this photo take Dec. 3, 2010, a Starbucks logo is displayed at a store in Philadelphia. Starbucks Corp. said Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, that customers with certain BlackBerry smartphones, iPhones and iPod touch can now use those devices to make purchases at all of its U.S. company-run stores.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Feb. 14, 2010 photo, a sign outside a Starbucks hangs over the Riverwalk with the Navarro Street bridge in the background in San Antonio, Texas. Starbucks plans to begin paying a 10-cents-per-share cash dividend to investors.(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE - This file photo made Nov. 2, 2009, shows a Starbucks coffee shop in Arlington, Mass. Starbucks releases quarterly earnings after the close of the market Wednesday, July 21, 2010. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Shown Tuesday, August 11, 2009 is a Starbucks Coffee shop at Adriatrica, a development in McKinney, Texas, designed to look like a Croatian Village.(AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
A worker cleans the sign outside one of many Starbucks outlets in Beijing Friday April 27, 2007. An Internet campaign was started in January calling for the removal of a Starbucks coffee shop from Beijing's famed Forbidden City. Critics say its presence in the former imperial palace is a smear on China's historical legacy. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
** FILE ** South Korean tourists queue up to buy coffee at an outlet of Starbucks at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, in this Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007 file photo. A member of China's legislature has revived calls for the removal of a Starbucks coffee shop from Beijing's Forbidden City, saying its presence was a smear on China's historical legacy, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday March 11, 2007. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
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4. Starbucks is partnering with brand, retail and property developer Percassi, the licensee that will own and operate Starbucks stores in Italy.

5. In the media release announcing Starbucks' foray into the Italian market, the brand said it's turned its eye toward Italy with "humility and respect."

6. Starbucks is relying heavily on the experience of local developer Percassi to adequately address the needs of the Italian marketplace. Schultz said, "Our first store will be designed with painstaking detail and great respect for the Italian people and coffee culture."

7. Starbucks is in good hands in Italy. Percassi's portfolio includes cosmetics brands Kiko Milano and Womo, footwear company Vergelio, sports and food services brands, and a sales network including Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, Victoria's Secret and LEGO Group. Percassi has also developed stores internationally for Benetton and helped Swatch, Guess, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Levi's enter and grow in the Italian market.

8. Italy might be the Starbucks' most insanely competitive market yet. Italians consume 14 billion espressos a year and an average of 3.7kg of coffee.

9. Starbucks might also find its most experienced talent pool yet in Italy. An estimated 270,000 Italians work as baristas, with 57.5% reporting they have 10 years or more experience.

10. Among the friends they're going to have to make, Starbucks needs to get off on the right foot with the Italian Espresso National Institute, which was created to protect Italian-style coffee drinking. "International chains of cafes are spreading, calling the coffee they serve Italian espresso," writes INEI's chairman Luigi Zecchini on the organisation's website. But, "behind our espresso... there is a unique and unrepeatable culture."

11. Italian bars typically use around 7 grams of ground coffee per espresso, with very little variation. Most bars will charge no more than one Euro per cup. Starbucks produces some of the most heavily caffeinated espresso on the planet, so it will be interesting to see how Italians react to their recipes, selection and pricing models.

RELATED: The Starbucks cup through the years:

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Starbucks cups, different looks through the years
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11 things you need to know about Starbucks' historic move to open stores in Italy
CHENGDU, SICHUAN PROVINCE, CHINA - 2015/09/13: Coffee cup on table in a Starbucks cafe. Starbucks is streamlining the ordering process so customers are able to get that cup of coffee faster than usual. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A cappuccino coffee sits in a Starbucks Corp. Reserve cup, used for specialist coffee, on the counter at a Starbucks coffee shop in London, U.K., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Coffee futures fell the most in seven months after Colombia announced measures that will increase exports, spurred by the plight of farmers in the country who are dealing with drought conditions linked to the El Nino weather pattern. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - 2014/12/24: A paper coffee cup and Starbucks logo. Starbucks will continue its expansion in China in 2015 and double its China store count to 3,000 by 2019. In its first-quarter fiscal report, the coffee giant shows optimistic expectation for its robust expansion plans in 2015. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A Starbucks employee writes a message on a cup of freshly brewed coffee at a local store in Washington, DC on December 26, 2012. Starbucks stirred the political pot Wednesday by urging its baristas to write 'come together' on its cups as a way to pressure US lawmakers to compromise on a deal to avert a year-end fiscal crisis. Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said the American coffee giant was recommending its first-ever message on the side of tall, grande and venti (small, medium and large) drinks sold at its Washington stores as a way to help break the capital's gridlock on the so-called 'fiscal cliff.' Lawmakers and the White House have less than a week to work out a deal aimed at preventing tax hikes from hitting all Americans and a series of deep, mandated spending cuts from kicking in beginning January 1. AFP PHOTO/Eva HAMBACH (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this March 18, 2015 file photo, Larenda Myres holds an iced coffee drink with a "Race Together" sticker on it at a Starbucks store in Seattle. Starbucks baristas will no longer write "Race Together" on customers' cups starting Sunday, ending as planned a visible component of the company's diversity and racial inequality campaign that had sparked widespread criticism in the week since it took effect. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Justin McCartney of Hampton, Va., holds up a cup with the words "Come Together" written on it outside a Starbucks cafe in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Starbucks is using its coffee cups to jump into the political fray in Washington. The world's biggest coffee chain is asking employees at cafes in the Washington area to scribble the words "Come Together" on cups for drink orders on Thursday and Friday. CEO Howard Schultz says the words are intended as a message to lawmakers about the damage being caused by the divisive negotiations over the "fiscal cliff." (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
A Starbucks coffee cup is seen in this photo taken August 12, 2009. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A customer holds their cup of coffee at the Starbucks in Chagrin Falls, Ohio on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. Starbucks Corp. releases third-quarter earnings after the closing bell. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
A cup of Starbucks tea is seen in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006. Starbucks Corp., the largest specialty coffee retailer, will report its earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
MIAMI - JANUARY 18: In this photo illustration, the new Starbucks 31-ounce Trenta size ice coffee is seen on the right next to a tall cup of Starbucks coffee on January 18, 2011 in Miami, Florida. Starbucks rolled out the newest member of its lineup of drinks which is available only for Tazo shaken iced teas, iced tea lemonades and iced coffees. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMEBR 26: Starbucks Coffe Company's news product 'Starbucks Discoveries'(Espressso (L), Latte (R)) are seen during a preview party on September 26, 2005 in Tokyo, Japan. 'Starbucks Discoveries' is the company's first chilled cup coffee product which will be available at convenience stores on September 27 in Japan with the same coffee beans used at Starbucks stores. (Photo by Junko Kimura/Getty Images)
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