Starbucks wades deeper into food business with Italian bakery Princi

WASHINGTON — If you’d love a warm, flaky pastry with your morning coffee, Starbucks wants to make it happen.

The coffee giant’s latest foray into the food business is a partnership with Italian bakery Princi, and its first U.S. location opened this week in Starbucks’ high-end Reserve Roastery in Seattle.

“They have created a partnership with a renowned artisanal Italian baker who is known for not compromising on his quality,” The Washington Post food anchor Mary Beth Albright told WTOP in a recent interview.

Baristas from Starbucks specialized coffee shop, Reserve Roastery, demonstrate a siphon brew of individual cups of coffee before the company’s annual shareholder meeting, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

“That might be the secret sauce that Starbucks has been looking for in food all these years.”

So, how is this food venture different from Starbucks’ previous ones?

Princi’s offerings will be freshly baked on site at Reserve locations, and with over 100 items to choose from on the menu — from small plates, pizzas, salads and more — customers will have a lot of options. And don’t leave out the alcohol: Albright said customers can also order cocktails.

To help customers go through their food choices, sales staff called commessas  will be there to help. “They understand that when you walk into a place and there are a lot of different culinary options — particularly when people are expecting a Starbucks experience — they need a guide,” Albright said.

Princi is coming to other Reserve sites in Shanghai, Milan, New York, Tokyo and Chicago. Starbucks is also planning stand-alone Princi cafes starting next year.

“This was a way to create legitimacy and credibility for Starbucks going into Italy,” Albright said. “So this partnership with [baker] Rocco Princi is critical because he is known for being somebody who cares about ingredients.”

Princi already has several locations in Milan and London. Starbucks is opening its first Italian location in Milan next year.

This partnership builds on the company’s vision of Starbucks as “a place that is grounded in the coffee traditions of Italy, but also going into the innovations that coffee has gone through in America,” Albright said.

She chatted with WTOP’s Mark Lewis about her interview with Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, the secret menu and the company’s long-term outlook. Listen below.

November 29, 2020 | Nov. 7, 2017 interview: The Washington Post's Mary Beth Albright talks Starbucks (WTOP's Mark Lewis)

WTOP’s Mark Lewis contributed to this report.

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