Starbucks is planning to make one of the biggest leaps in its corporate history by opening its first coffee shop in Italy.

The vast multinational chain, best known for its innovative drinks and famous green-and-white mermaid logo, will open the first of its outlets in Milan.

Although this is a step in a new direction for Starbucks, it was seeing locals at a coffee bar in Milan that inspired current Chief Executive Howard Schultz to take over the fledgling Starbucks chain and turn it into a global brand with more than 22,000 outlets across 67 countries, from Guatemala to Guernsey. The company now has an estimated annual revenue of $16.4 billion (£11.4 billion) and despite large-scale controversy over the block-red Starbucks Christmas cup (in which some Christians accused the chain of “hating Christmas”), is one of the world’s most easily recognised brands.

But there are concerns that Starbucks will not be welcome in Italy. The Italian “coffee culture” may not appreciate the nature of the vast chain, although Mr Schultz says that the Milan outlet will be designed with “painstaking attention to detail” so that the “coffee culture” still remains. He added that “visually, it has to be a very seductive place where Starbucks comes alive”. Since concerns were raised about the similar nature of each of the chain’s outlets, Starbucks has begun to diversify the décor in its coffee shops.

Although Italy is well-known as the birthplace of the espresso (and most of the words used in the world of coffee are Italian), the country is only the seventh-largest consumer nation of the drink in Europe. So although Italy is perceived as a country of coffee, profits for the company will not appear out of thin air. For the venture, Starbucks is partnering with the Italian developer Percassi, and president of the company Antonio Percassi said: “We know that we are going to face a unique challenge with the opening of the first Starbucks store in Italy.”

Mr Percassi also said that the companies are “confident that Italian people are ready to live the Starbucks experience, as already occurs in many other markets.”

The new coffee shop in Milan will open early next year.