MILAN, June 7 (Reuters) - Italian premium coffee maker illycaffe will launch hand-pulled cold coffee this summer, in a sign it is feeling the pressure as coffee chain Starbucks prepares to debut in its home turf.
The family-owned company said on Thursday it would sell a cold brew, a trendy favourite of young consumers, in its own cafes and other food outlets in Italy.
In the country, the world's fourth biggest coffee market in term of number of cups drunk, several mid-sized domestic roasters including illycaffe sell their coffee mainly through independent cafes and supermarkets.
The arrival of Starbucks, which plans to open its first Italian store in Milan in September, ramps up the competition in Italy as coffeemakers chase the growing number of consumers prepared to pay a premium for quality coffee.
Cold coffee is considered key to attracting new consumers and global maker leader Nestle signalled the appeal for this product last September when it bought cold-brewed coffees specialist Blue Bottle Coffee in the United States.
Illycaffe's new drink is made through a slow extraction of coffee at a cold temperature.
Illycaffe, which produces and sells only one blend made of nine varieties of Arabica beans, is the third-biggest coffee maker in Italy with sales of nearly 500 million euros ($590 million)last year.
The group has a network of 244 mono-brand stores and cafes in more than 40 countries around the world. ($1 = 0.8470 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini Editing by Alexandra Hudson)