In the August 7 issue of BusinessWeek, there’s an article titled “Basta With The Venti Frappuccinos.” According to this article, Andrea Illy, the head of Illycaffè, is out to show the Starbucks of this world how espresso should be done. They have started rolling out hundreds of licensed cafés under the brand name Espressamente.
Espressawhat?, you might ask? Meaning “clearly” or “expressly” in Italian, these cafés are cropping up in Europe (and France, in particular, which could use some decent coffee), Asia, and some temporary locations in New York City. Illycaffè is being a bit cagey about the very un-European U.S. market, however, and suggested they will plan an arrival only after “careful study.”
Unlike Starbucks’ kumbaya community focus, Espressamente is an attempt to create a destination with a focus on coffee quality and aesthetics. However, it begs the question of just how different these will be from what we’ve already seen from, say, the American incursion of Segafreddo- or Lavazza-branded cafés. The concept of creating a themed chain of cafés from a well-known Italian coffee brand has been done before — and with decent, but not headline-worthy, results.
Which is a lot like their imported coffee: very high quality standards, but yet they must still vacuum-pack and ship their beans thousands of miles after roasting them — losing something in transatlantic translation.
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