Starbucks is putting olive oil in some coffee drinks. Not everyone's a fan

Photo (c) Monticello - Getty Images

But the coffee retailer says it’s an authentic taste of old Italy

Starbucks is constantly experimenting with new coffee beverages but its latest concoction is raising a few eyebrows.

The company has introduced Oleato – a line of coffee beverages that combines Starbucks arabica coffee with a spoonful of Partanna cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil. Starbucks describes the result as a “velvety smooth, delicately sweet, and lush coffee that uplifts each cup with an extraordinary new flavor and texture.”

The launch, which occurred Wednesday, includes five beverages, three of which are Oleato Caffè Latte, Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso, and Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew. 

The company said it would begin to introduce the beverages in select markets around the world. In the U.S., customers in Southern California will get the first sip. Later this year, Japan, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom will launch the beverages.

Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz said he was inspired to create the new beverages after visiting Italy.

‘Next revolution in coffee’

“Oleato represents the next revolution in coffee that brings together an alchemy of nature’s finest ingredients – Starbucks arabica coffee beans and Partanna cold pressed extra virgin olive oil,” Schultz said.  “Today I feel just as inspired as I did 40 years ago. Oleato has opened our eyes to fresh new possibilities and a transformational way to enjoy our daily coffee.” 

The editors at Eat This, Not That report that the initial response from consumers is rather lukewarm. People posting on Facebook, Reddit and other platforms seemed to have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept.

"When I think of a refreshing and delicious beverage, olive oil is the first thing that comes to mind – said no one," a user commented on Reddit.

While it may take a while to catch on in America, Starbucks is banking on a warmer reception in Europe – in particular, Italy. In interviews, Shultz said he visited Sicily last year and began partaking in the local custom of consuming a spoonful of olive oil with his morning coffee.

Schultz said he decided to combine the two and said he was “absolutely stunned” by how much he liked it. 

Health food?

Most health experts agree that olive oil is a mostly healthy form of fat. In its endorsement of the Mediterranian Diet, the Mayo Clinic notes olive oil is a primary ingredient of the diet and “provides monounsaturated fat, which lowers total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (or "bad") cholesterol levels.”

“When creating the beverages, we were inspired by the rich history and origin stories of coffee and olive oil – two of nature’s most transcendent ingredients,” said Amy Dilger, principal beverage developer for Starbucks. “Infusing Starbucks coffee with olive oil yielded a velvety smooth, rich texture, with the buttery, round flavors imparted by the olive oil perfectly pairing with the soft, chocolatey notes of the coffee.”

The beverages went on sale this week in Italy. U.S. Starbucks locations will begin offering them this spring.

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