Starbucks debuts in Italy with premium brews, novelty bar

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Italy is Starbucks’ 78th global market, and the Milan opening comes 20 years after Starbucks opened its first store in Europe. (AP)
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Starbucks is betting that premium brews and novelties like a heated marble-topped coffee bar will win patrons in a country fond of its espresso rituals. (AP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Starbucks debuts in Italy with premium brews, novelty bar

  • Decades ago, Milan’s coffee bars inspired the chain’s vision
  • Now Starbucks is hoping clients will visit its new store, called the Reserve Roastery

MILAN: Starbucks is opening its first store in Italy, betting that premium brews and novelties like a heated marble-topped coffee bar will win customers in a country fond of its daily espresso rituals.
Decades ago, Milan’s coffee bars inspired the chain’s vision. Now Starbucks is hoping clients will visit its new store, called the Reserve Roastery, to watch beans being roasted, sip coffee or enjoy cocktails at a mezzanine-level bar in a cavernous, former post office near the city’s Duomo, or cathedral.
Starbucks chief design officer Liz Muller told said earlier this week that the company’s “not coming to Italy to teach people about coffee. This is where coffee was born.”
Instead, Muller said, Starbucks “wanted to come and bring a premium experience that is different to what people in Italy are used to.”
She described that formula as including “many different brewing techniques and a space where we want you to stay longer and relax and enjoy.”
In Italy, an espresso at a coffee bar is usually a quick morning or after-lunch ritual performed standing up. In many neighborhoods, cafes are practically on every corner, and Italians are on a first-name basis with their trusted barista.
Italy is Starbucks’ 78th global market, and the Milan opening comes 20 years after Starbucks opened its first store in Europe, in London. The company has described the Milan store as “the crown jewel of Starbucks global retail footprint.” It says it plans more cafes for Milan later this year.
Milan is the first place where Starbucks has opened a store in its Roastery format in untested territory. It opened a Roastery in Seattle, the US city that is home to its corporate headquarters, in 2014, and a second one in Shanghai last year.
Italians are used to marble counters for coffee bars, but Starbucks boasts that it outfitted its counter tops in the Milan store with heating so they won’t feel stone cold on chill days. The centerpiece of the Milan store is a 6.5-meter (22-foot) high bronze cask, part of the roasting process.
The company also hopes the store’s cocktail bar will be an attraction: Many who work in Milan, Italy’s fashion and financial capital, cherish the tradition of meeting friends or colleagues for an “aperitivo,” or pre-dinner cocktail, often in cafes.


Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

Updated 22 March 2019
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Palestinians in financial crisis after Israel, US moves

  • A Ramallah-based economics professor said the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel
  • Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The Palestinian Authority faces a suffocating financial crisis after deep US aid cuts and an Israeli move to withhold tax transfers, sparking fears for the stability of the West Bank.
The authority, headed by President Mahmud Abbas, announced a package of emergency measures on March 10, including halving the salaries of many civil servants.
The United States has cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid in the last year, though only a fraction of that went directly to the PA.
The PA has decided to refuse what little US aid remains on offer for fear of civil suits under new legislation passed by Congress.
Israel has also announced it intends to deduct around $10 million a month in taxes it collects for the PA in a dispute over payments to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails.
In response, Abbas has refused to receive any funds at all, labelling the Israeli reductions theft.
That will leave his government with a monthly shortfall of around $190 million for the length of the crisis.
The money makes up more than 50 percent of the PA’s monthly revenues, with other funds coming from local taxes and foreign aid.

While the impact of the cuts is still being assessed, analysts fear it could affect the stability of the occupied West Bank.
“If the economic situation remains so difficult and the PA is unable to pay salaries and provide services, in addition to continuing (Israeli) settlement expansion it will lead to an explosion,” political analyst Jihad Harb said.
Abbas cut off relations with the US administration after President Donald Trump declared the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December 2017.
The right-wing Israeli government, strongly backed by the US, has since sought to squeeze Abbas.
After a deadly anti-Israeli attack last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would withhold $138 million (123 million euros) in Palestinian revenues over the course of a year.
Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through its ports, and then transfers the money to the PA.
Israel said the amount it intended to withhold was equal to what is paid by the PA to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis last year.
Many Palestinians view prisoners and those killed while carrying out attacks as heroes of the fight against Israeli occupation.
Israel says the payments encourage further violence.
Abbas recently accused Netanyahu’s government of causing a “crippling economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority.”
The PA also said in January it would refuse all further US government aid for fear of lawsuits under new US legislation targeting alleged support for “terrorism.”

Finance Minister Shukri Bishara announced earlier this month he had been forced to “adopt an emergency budget that includes restricted austerity measures.”
Government employees paid over 2,000 shekels ($555) will receive only half their salaries until further notice.
Prisoner payments would continue in full, Bishara added.
Nasser Abdel Karim, a Ramallah-based economics professor, told AFP the PA, and the Palestinian economy more generally, remain totally controlled by and reliant on Israel.
The PA undertook similar financial measures in 2012 when Israel withheld taxes over Palestinian efforts to gain international recognition at the United Nations.
Abdel Karim said such crises are “repeated and disappear according to the development of the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Israel or the countries that support (the PA).”
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including now annexed east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and Abbas’s government has only limited autonomy in West Bank towns and cities.
“The problem is the lack of cash,” economic journalist Jafar Sadaqa told AFP.
He said that while the PA had faced financial crises before, “this time is different because it comes as a cumulative result of political decisions taken by the United States.”
Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on March 10 to head a new government to oversee the crisis.
Abdel Karim believes the crisis could worsen after an Israeli general election next month “if a more right-wing Israeli government wins.”
Netanyahu’s outgoing government is already regarded as the most right-wing in Israel’s history but on April 9 parties even further to the right have a realistic chance of winning seats in parliament for the first time.
Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014, when a drive for a deal by the administration of President Barack Obama collapsed in the face of persistent Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.