Italian coffee maker Illy Caffe will challenge Starbucks Corp's stronghold over the US out-of-home coffee market by expanding its reach within independent coffee shops, rather than opening up its own.

Italian coffee maker Illy Caffe will challenge Starbucks Corp’s stronghold over the US out-of-home coffee market by expanding its reach within independent coffee shops, rather than opening up its own.

Illy initiated the “Artisti del Gusto” - or Artists of Taste - program with independent shops in Europe three years ago, and brought the program to the U.S. last year. Under the program, Illy supplies shops with Italian espresso machines, coffee cups, artwork, drink recipes and intensive training, after which the cafe becomes a certified Illy purveyor. In return, the shop agrees to serve Illy coffee exclusively for at least three years.

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