Bakers beware – Starbucks is expanding into artisan food

The coffee chain has struck a deal with Italian bakery Princi....

Not content with dominating the coffee market, Starbucks now intends to "elevate food".

So said CEO Howard Schultz as his company prepared to announce a new investment and global licensing deal with leading artisanal Milan baker and restaurant Princi on Wednesday.

Princi will now become the principle food purveyor for the chain's "Roastery" outlets, the flagship megashops Starbucks is starting to roll out in major cities.

Princi products will also feature in their "Reserve-Only" stores, which will offer a premium line of small-pot reserve coffees from 2017.

It means that, for the first time in its 45-history, Starbucks will host in-store baking at some of its outlets.

The company will also help Princi, which already sells handcrafted, artisanal baked goods derived from family recipes at five stores in London and Milan, open new stores around the world.

In a briefing, Schultz called the move "an opportunity" for Starbucks to "elevate" food:

"This will once again reaffirm Starbucks’ leadership in all things coffee."

Starbucks previously tested the gourmet food waters when it purchased California-based La Boulange bakery owner Bay Bread Group for $100 million in 2012.

However, it closed the almost two dozen bakeries it had opened under the brand and two manufacturing plants in 2015, citing a lack of long-term sustainability.

The original 15,000 square foot Starbucks Roastery (pictured) opened in the company's hometown of Seattle, Washington, in December 2014. 

April saw Starbucks announce its plans for a mammoth new 20,000 Roastery in New York's Meatpacking District, set to open in 2018. 

Starbucks said in a release at the time:

"The Roastery is coffee as theatre, encouraging customers to interact with Starbucks roasters and baristas in order to deepen their understanding of the art behind sourcing, roasting and brewing rare coffees."

The coffee giant is aiming to ultimately launch Roasteries globally.